Site-specific movement production on Selfhood, Sanity and Intangible Treasures within Human Kind(ness)
I’m at the place of a massive cut down, of trees…
Do not climb the timber stacks! – the sign says.
All cut down on the nearest horizon… at the trunk’s base, where the roots meet the ground…
A sea of broken branches, twigs and chipped off wood pieces.
All exposed to the weathering.
A strong scent of soft, mire-like ground meets my senses. The smell hugs me, bottom up.
It fills this space.
All I see is roughness and cruelty mixed with the gentle, green moss.
Planet Covid-19. Year 2020. We are just emerging from prolonged lockdowns, stuck at homes.
Cut off, from tangible life experiences, but plugged in.
The biggest joy is a fresh return to the local Nature Reserves. They have been closed for too long.
Human action is visible everywhere though…
Our human mindset has to change. We need to re-connect the past to the future, in the present.
I feel like I owe this tree a hug.
In the world deprived of touch, it is this one thing I can offer to the forest. How can I embrace its timely presence? How can I share the joy of living different time frames, side by side, and celebrate the many relationships with the Earth’s dynamic? Who am I here…? Why do I come here at all?
Forest Within is a dance production to be created in response to a place. It is a site-specific work planned as an open collaboration between the engaged movers/performers and the responsive forest site at Countesswells, Aberdeen.
Through the four weeks of devising the work a number of somatically felt and choreographically emerged dialogues will be taking place. The score is open.
Under artistic direction of Anna Dako, the project will seek to unearth multiple entry points into creative co-exchange between the movers and the place, and the shaping stories in movement and expression.
The filming of this lived choreography will take place on the last three days of being on-site. The work will include working alongside the weather conditions and embracing that experience within the danced.
All income raised in the process of devising and sharing the filmed piece will be donated to a local charity of the crew’s choice.
We want arts to help. We want dance to be part of natural landscape.
Audience Engagement and Response
Countesswells Woods is a public local nature reserve and we welcome responses and audience engagement from all individuals who also interact with the woods during this time, particularly those who encounter us during our devising and filming process.
We warmly invite you to share your engagement and responses to the site itself or to us and our work within it. Above all, we look forward to this sharing supporting and informing our process.
Please feel free to address any of the questions below and reflect on:
What does this forest offer you? Why do you come here?
How does this clear-felled place make you feel?
And, how do you connect to the landscape around you?
Your thoughts are important to us.
We welcome all formats, from photographs, to video, audio reflection and text.
Upload your responses by clicking the buttons below.
Thank you for sharing!
*Please note: By uploading your work you agree for your images/documents/videos/audios to be displayed by Dunami.
Please be sure to sign or add your name to the work itself, or if you prefer, you may leave your work anonymous.
We officially began our rehearsals and devising process last week. We’ve had the privilege of being on site at Countesswells Forest three times already and experiencing the natural environment in all its glory.
Our first day was wonderfully sunny and beautiful and we spent this first session really exploring the site. We allowed ourselves to fully experience the natural environment and opened ourselves up to all of its sounds, textures and smells. We also allowed ourselves the opportunity to engage in some reflective thinking and connect ourselves to the site that would be the inspiration for this project. This first session for us was about really listening to the site, so that we might move forward meaningfully by engaging in dialogue, not only with each other, but with the natural environment as well.
The next two sessions provided us with a brilliant opportunity to experience the site in a completely different manner and to encounter it through a new lens and perspective. In complete contrast to our first session, we were greeted with complete mist. We were able to connect to the site in a new way, exploring alternative entry points revealed to us through this beautiful, yet drastically different weather.
Perhaps one of the most prominent themes to have emerged so far and which is weaving itself throughout our work, as well as the weather, is the balancing of different frequencies and experiences of life. The site itself threads together vibrant, living qualities with those of sadness, death and destruction.
At once, our site is both living and dead.
The evidence of felled trees is evident all around us, leaving traces of grief and sorrow throughout the site. Yet, at the very same time, the ground which has been uncovered as a result is thriving, vibrant and full of the promises of new life and possibility.
Underpinning much of our devising process is also the breath. Our breath, as individuals and as a collective, as well as the breath and the living rhythms of the forest itself. We seek ways to thread our own human presence in the forest and that of others (cyclists, walkers and hikers) with the natural patterns of the living forest.
We have had the opportunity to encounter the forest in different ‘moods’, in different rhythms, in different breaths. From warm inviting sunshine, to aggressive wind, to the withdrawn and secluded mist, we cannot wait to see what else the forest reveals to us in the forthcoming weeks!
As we continue, we would love to hear your thoughts and reflections on the site as well, whatever form these may take. You are invited to upload your own images, artwork and writing until the end of November. We look forward to continuing sharing this process and experiences with you as we move forward.
We have continued our devising process this week, expanding and developing on the themes from last week. As in the first week, we have been able to encounter the forest in different weathers, which has enabled us to playfully explore how these shifts alter our relationships with the natural environment.
Throughout the process, we’ve been tapping into the metaphor of a thread and allowing ourselves to experiment with the hemp ropes. In addition, we have been inspired by the richness of the smells and sounds of the forest as we dance. Through the rain and moisture, the smell of earth has infused itself into our process. The multitude of sounds present with us in the forest has also been a source of inspiration this week, as we began to develop the project's musical scapes.
We are filming live on site on Sunday 22nd November and Monday 23rd November. It is an open process you can come along to (at a safe social distance) and observe. We would love to see some of your reflections and thoughts as you encounter us and the forest.