Imagining otherwise

Flexer, Y. and Sandiland, N. (2023) Imagining otherwise. [Performances]

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Devised by Digital Artist Nic Sandiland and choreographer Yael Flexer together with company dancers, Imagining Otherwise is an immersive interactive digital dance work for five dancers. It reflects on our experiences of parallel time zones, places and lives; exploring the idea of multiple stories and possibilities, inspired by Doreen Massey’s writing on space ‘space is the dimension of things being, existing at the same time: of simultaneity’ (Massey, 2013:1).

The research examined notions of sensuous or ‘felt’ geographies’ and ‘kinaesthetic encounter’ (Rubidge 2014:27) developing a somatically responsive improvisational choreographic methodology alongside work with interactive motion detection and projection. The research drew on contact improviser and dance theorist Nita Little notions of improvisation as ‘a bodymind environment [and] ecology in motion’ (Little 2014:251) as well as dance theorist and practitioner Vida Midgelow’s consideration of Bridotti’s nomadism in the context of improvisational dance which frequently employs images and terms referencing geography, terrains, journeys and connectivities embodying nomadic concepts (Midgelow 2012:1). In the work, immersive digital floor projections, shaped and changed by the dancers’ movement evoke shifting organic landscapes. The choreography employs an action/reaction aesthetic in which the dancers are continually responsive, mapping their inner somatic sensations and ‘calls’ (Little 2021) negotiating the changing spatial relations between them, in relation to the projection seen as ‘an integral performative agent’ (Rubidge 2014: 38) and in relation to the audience enveloping the performance space.

Digitally, interactive imagery akin to live charcoal drawing, flickering images of real and imagined islands alongside borderless inverted world maps, using height mapping systems, disrupt visual representations of space and highlight notions of migration, transience, mark-making and erasure. These are amplified by spoken text written by Wendy Houstoun emphasising a sense of dislocation and deterritorialized identities also echoing the lived experience of some of the professional dancers in the work.

Impact and research environment
Imagining Otherwise activity also included work with over 1000 community and 60+ participants through online ‘Acting Our Age’ classes conducted by Flexer & Sandiland’s artistic director Dr. Yael Flexer, and company dancers and teachers drawing directly on the Imagining Otherwise research. In addition, Flexer & Sandiland company worked with over 300 youth (Centre of Advanced Training students), HE students in Stavanger, Chichester and at London Contemporary Dance School as well as professional dancers teaching workshops based on the research as well as ‘re-imagining’ creating new iterations of Imagining Otherwise at Stavanger University, Norway, The Place, London and Dance East (where the full company work was also performed-see below). Furthermore Flexer & Sandiland have released YouTube tutorials based on Imagining Otherwise funded by Arts Council England and free to the general public targeting youth, university students, dance teachers and professionals.

Concept: Nic Sandiland & Yael Flexer
Interactive and visual design: Nic Sandiland
Choreography: Yael Flexer & the performers including original cast (Julie-Ann Minaai & Cher Nicolette Ho)
Rehearsal Director: Julie-Ann Minaai
Performers: Luke Birch, Lorna Cross Clark, Gabrielle Macalister, Andrea Madore, Corrie McKenzie, Yael Flexer
Writing: Wendy Houstoun
Music: James Keane
Text direction: Pete Phillips
Lighting Design
Production management: Natalie Rowland
Costume Design: Rosalind Noctor
Producer: Lou Rogers

Funding & in-kind support: Arts Council England, South East Dance, research fund-University of Stavanger, Norway & The Universities of Chichester & Middlesex.

Work in progress- mid research performances:
2021 Streaming Premiere, YouTube
2021 Varen, Randaberg, Norway
2022 Dance Theatre Space, University of Chichester
2022 The Place Theatre, London Contemporary Dance School, re-staging
2022 Dance East, C.A.T students re-staging

Performances of complete work:
2023 Worthing Theatres
2023 Dance East

Publication Type: Performances
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dance East 2m, movement
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV1580 Dance > GV1782.5 Choreography
Divisions: Academic Areas > Department of Dance
Media of Output: Performance
Event Title: Imagining Otherwise
Event Location: Dance East, Jerwood Dance House, Ipswich
Event Dates: 10 March 2023
Depositing User: Yael Flexer
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2023 11:26
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2023 11:26

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