'Reflections on my practice' by Poppy Emer Greenford
"For we are story makers, not just story tellers..new ones
woven from the threads of the old.
Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding sweetgrass)
My methodologies are developed through practical research projects both personally and working with other performers.
Circus Theatre integration is my area of artistic interest. My work so far has been devised around a theme, creating stories through circus as a multi-dimensional form of storytelling. However, in my current research project, I am beginning from multiple starting points to find the meeting point. As an opportunity to challenge myself and find new frames.
The content of my creative work is inspired firstly by nature and our human relationship to the earth, and secondly by other artists and activists who also make work about ecology. Authors, Visual artists and Activists who share progressive views of 'how to live on a dying planet' (Haraway) What we all have in common is an understanding that art is activism and stories shape the world.
While environmental concerns are at the centre of my story-making ideas, the angle from which I approach this is a celebratory one. Aiming only to evoke a reverence for nature through shared experience.
Honey bees communicate through dance and movement and so do I. A pollinator of joy, laughter, and the magic of life.
"The Role of the Artist, is to make the Revolution irresitable"
Toni Cade Bambara
Practice as Research Projects
How does a bee juggle through space?
An epistemic study into Juggling and Dance as a mode of translation, using Laban’s Movement Theory or Space Harmony.
By approaching dance methods through Juggling, as an extension of my body’s movements, I aimed to discover new methodology for devising within my own practice and to share with other artists.
I was particularly interested in the concept of the kinesphere, the space around one's body that you can reach in any direction. Laban's movement scales are based on this concept. I began to create a diagram of what this might look like. (see right)
For a Bee, movement communication is vital. As this was the topic of my next project I began to integrate them into the physicality of my juggling practice.
I utilised the honeycomb structure as a devising tool, combined with laban's movement scales and effort actions.
The project also involved creative writing exercises around bees and storytelling.
A methodology of integration through text and analogy was a large outcome of this research as well being the seeds of my show Bee-ology.
Other areas of exploration were an icosahedron structure that was used to juggle with and around. Pendulum juggling choreography using laban's scales, siteswap theory combined with laban notation as a written form of choreography and also cyclical sequencing with no start or finish.
The dance theory part of this research is available as a workshop for jugglers and object manipulators to learn how to move through space following movement theory combined with a chosen apparatus.
This research project was also the basis for the formation of Bumble Movement Arts as an organisation and the aesthetics are now part of the logo.
"If we can better understand how we are shaped by the world, we have more power to shape it back"
Third Space Somatics
How can we read somatics and feel semiotics in circus?
Somatics- “a field within bodywork and movement studies, which emphasises internal physical perception and experience.”(Serenity Somatics 2020)
Semiotics- “The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.” (Houter, 2019)
The question aims to contradict these seemingly dualistic terms.
As a circus director and my continued work as a performer, I approach circus theatre as a corporeal and adventurous form of storytelling.
Somatic practitioners describe how our bodies hold memories which affect us subconsciously. The notion of working with subconscious interpretation grew from the seed of this quote.
I theorised, from my own experience of creating circus theatre performance about environmental issues; if a story is told from an internal place of intense feeling, it allows an audience to empathise with that person and therefore the issue.
Embodiment and physical awareness are inherent in circus practices. By becoming deeply aware of what is occurring in both the body and mind during practice, we could slow down and zoom in.
I noticed a duality in methodology, where one can start either from somatics or semiotics and potentially end up in a similar place.