Born from self-directed somatic research and my mission to unfurl antidotes to the “crisis of imagination” which inhibits our conceptualisation of the future, (Ghosh, 2016:9) this workshop invites participants to fold into collaborative entanglements of human-nonhuman kin through deep listening exercises, in- and outdoor movement explorations, and contact improvisation.
The aim of the workshop is to provide participants with exercises, called ‘lichen dances’, through which they can embody and explore their own relational quality to the more-than-human world. Lichens are our touchstone throughout, exemplifying the nature of composite organisms that exist only in the intersection of multiple lively beings.
Through physical exploration participants are encouraged to consider how lichenous interrelations, or “oddkinships”, (Haraway, 2016) could be vital to our ongoingness, inspiring us to create future-worlds in more profound, embodied collaborative configurations. The workshop will unfold in five stages. First, working indoors we will undertake appropriate briefing and physical warm up activity. Then, moving into the Dartington Gardens (where my own explorations unfolded!), participants will be invited to ‘tune in’ to the lichen present through deep listening activity, utilising creative writings to focus in on our nonhuman companions in this exercise. We move next into physical exploration, moving through several exercises encouraging an engagement with the body’s ‘edge’ as a malleable, dissolvable boundary. Through this, participants will meet nonhuman kin not only in lichen, but also in weather, tree, water, and air. Drawing from Authentic Movement practices we will then move through several witnessing and moving activities, working consciously with lichen as collaborators, observing and moving beside and with us. These ‘solo’ exercises celebrate participants’ own abilities to enliven their entanglements with more-than-human kin, knowing themselves never working alone but always “becoming-with” through exchange, awareness, and collaboration.
A process of ‘return’ will be undertaken back in the studio. I conclude the workshop here to centre the importance of bringing our ‘oddkin’ relations indoors where they might feel less present, empowering participants to know through their bodies the aliveness and ongoingness of these multi-species interrelations. The final physical activity, unfolding as facilitated whole-group contact improvisation and movement ‘generation’, embodies in itself the notion of oddkinships as future-world-making. Using the simple example of ‘making movement together’, this activity allows participants to know themselves as multiplicitious, part of a fluxing ‘wholeness’, allowing collective renegotiation of present modes of being, moving and therefore living in the world. The exercise is invigorated with a sense of bringing the future to us, emboldening participants to mould it through their movement and bodies, together. We will then undertake group reflection, focusing on how these microcosmic, embodied examples of human- nonhuman collaboration might expand out of the studio, and be integrated into daily life practices ‘beyond’ the somatic. This discussion topic is central to Sentient Performativities as a whole,and so this final group reflection enacts a ‘round table’ practice to decentralise the ‘expert’ and deeply manifest the aims of both workshops and conference, manifesting these embodied, expansive collaborations into their own future-worlds and lives.
The final movement activity is currently planned to involve contact work, however this will be reconsidered closer to the Conference dates in relation to its appropriateness regarding Covid-19. As I sure all conference attendees will need to I would ask all undertake an LFT test prior to attendance. I champion the importance of participant agency in regard to physical touch and contact, and as such the group will have the final say as to whether they undertake this practice or an alternative exercise. The workshop welcomes participants who might be disabled or neurodiverse, however I want to note that parts of the Dartington gardens are not wheelchair accessible, therefore it would be useful to know if any participants might have access needs so I can adjust location planning accordingly.
writing materials for written reflection.
Rachel Elizabeth Coleman (she/her) is an award winning artist-activist, working at the intersections of climate, body and performance. Dancing across live art, teaching, photography, weaving and podcast, Rachel uses her creative practice as a way to think playfully and critically about how we live in the world – as a place to unlearn, and relearn and new learn.
Rachel has shared her work across the UK, including at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Camden People’s Theatre and Royal & Derngate Northampton. She holds a Masters in Movement, Mind and Ecology from Schumacher College, and is a Lecturer in Performance Art at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Rachel can also be found as the General Manager of Orange Skies Theatre, and as co-host of ASSTROLOGY: The Amateur Astrologer’s Podcast.
PLACES ARE LIMITED TO 10