In 2003 the Canadian choreographer Lin Snelling and I embarked together on a journey in which we explored our shared interest in how movement and language can be combined in a poetic, improvised way of storytelling. We called our practice Repeating Distance.
Repeating Distance investigates new ways to edit language and movement; the translation process between the presence and fluidity of the articulated body of the performer and the verbally articulated consciousness and physical economy of the dramaturg; how to use a local, urban landscape and an actual performance space as a source for a non-linear form of contemporary storytelling; how to develop a collective repertoire and memory of movements, images, stories to be used within an improvised performance form; how to navigate performance time and space as a balance between the deep structure of the rehearsal practice and the surface structure of the actual performance.
In our work the body is the word: poetic by nature, full of paradox, mystery and practicalities; a kind of intelligence that poetry captures and movement evokes.
Repeating Distance has been practiced or performed in the following places:
- Tanzparenz 2, Vienna, AT
- Body Walks, Bruges, B
- Crimson Coast Dance Agency, Nanaimo, CAN
- Fondation Jean Pierre Perrault, Montréal, CAN
- Studio 303, Montréal, CAN
- Toronto Dance Theatre, Toronto, CAN
- Pelma, Limassol, CYP
- Duncan Dance Resarch Center, Athens, GR
- The Place, London, UK
From 2010, Lin and I decided to add writing to our Repeating Distance practice and the duet form became a group form. Since then, we call it Rewriting Distance. Rewriting Distance is a performance practice, which, researches and recreates the ‘oral history’ of the places and communities we perform in and work within a contemporary form of storytelling. It offers to people the chance to hear/see/feel the mysterious and vibrant power of story. Whether the story is told through dance, through words, through song, or through the silence of seeing someone write or draw, this vast array of how we can come together to tell a tale remains one of the touchstones of the performing arts. What are the narratives of a group of people that come together? What are we telling each other now? What does our past have to do with the present and the future? What can we make for each other? What is an audience? A performer? An empty space? What does this body have to say in front of another body? And what does this exceptional sentient intelligence have to offer audiences now?
The participants we invite into Rewriting Distance ask their own questions inside the form. The framework allows for questions, problems, solutions and re-invention as it asks participants to move, speak and write to collectively and individually further the telling of the physical, verbal, lyrical and written stories at hand. The original form has at least three participants. Each participant moves through the various roles of performer, witness and audience member.
Rewriting Distance has been practiced or performed in the following places:
- Liquid Loft Studio, Vienna, AT
- KASK, Ghent, B
- Studio les ballets C de la B, Ghent, B
- The Car Wash, Antwerp, B
- Agora de la Danse, Montréal, CAN
- Circuit Est, Montréal, CAN
- Mile Zero Dance, Edmonton, CAN
- Mocean Dance, Halifax, CAN
- Winchester Street Theater, Toronto, CAN
- GSO Stadium, Limassol, CYP
- Tanzfabrik, Berlin, D
- Dance Limerick, IR
- University of Limerick, IR
- De Mont University, Leicester, UK
- Finstock Hall, Charlburry, UK
- The Place, London, UK
See also: https://rewritingdistance.com/
To accompany my book, Performing Mourning, Laments in Contemporary Arts (2021), I created a lecture performance that gives an insight in the writing of the book: my own personal history of mourning and my encounter and research of the Greek tradition of the moiroloi.
As I was working on this book project, a desire grew in me to create my own lament for my dead father, which could also be a lament for any victim of a traffic accident. I twice dreamt about the solo I wanted to create and was able to imagine its three-part structure.
My Lament begins with me transforming into my younger self – the child I was before and after my father’s accident. In the second part of the solo, this innocent child’s play begins to affect the entire body of the adult me. It becomes a dance in which I express both anger and self-inflicted pain. Eventually the energy quietens down again and transitions into the third part of the solo, during which I sing my self-composed lament.
The solo was created during residences at Theater Polis in Nicosia on invitation of Lia Haraki and at Muzeum Susch on invitation of Joanna Lesnierowska.
Performing Mourning has been performed at:
- Ottawa Dance Directive, CAN
- H401, Amsterdam, NL
- Muzeum Susch, SUI