#ablebodiesandstones – research blog – session 4

(I will start each of these research diary blog posts by feeling into my body and into the bodies of my guests. Trying to find out about our abilities and to evaluate what able bodies feel like. I am not trying to pretend that I do not have an able body. I am not trying to victimize my body in order to appropriate minority positions. I am very much aware that at this moment my body is more able than most bodies, I am aware of my position of norm and power in this ableist society. Or at least, I am trying to.)

Following rocks and cobblestones, knots and pulleys, movement and bodies
Guest artist: Stephanie N’Duhirahe

My body
I still feel my stiff neck from weeks ago. It is really taking a long time to get better. Even after seeing my physiotherapist Beate twice. But it is getting better! I can move in the air and on the ground. I am training. I am strong. And I am looking forward to working with Steph!

My guest’s body
Stephanie N’Duhirahe is an artist and aerialist from Switzerland, living in Prague. Her home are her ropes, be they vertical, slack, or horizontal in big heights.
Steph’s body seems to be fine. A bit tired from getting up early to travel from Prague to Berlin, and from her very busy schedule: Apart from just having finished Fun Fatale Festival (she’s one of the co-founders and co-directors – and I am proud to have been there, when it was conceived during a backstage lunch of our group of circus women at a festival in Trutnov!), she is in the middle of training to become a funambuliste!

Research approach
These days are different than the sessions before, because Steph and I have been communicating about #ablebodiesandstones for a long time – since we’ve realized in 2018 that we both were working on the same complex of ideas. We have been thinking about working together for a while. Our idea is to meet every so often, while we research and create our own productions, which might become intertwined or connected or even result in a joint production along the way.

We have five whole days to work, which is pure luxury for both of us – especially since we are „just“ researching, not rehearsing or producing a piece that has to be finished. We talk a lot, in our usual English-Czech-French-German mix to in order to get the best precision in getting our thoughts expressed.

Day one – knots and talks
We talk most afternoon, about stones and rocks, about ropes, about our bodies, injuries, about our respective festivals, and about circus artists who inspire us.
Steph has brought some cobblestones from Prague that she has been experimenting with. They are so different to my raw rocks – Steph is interested in capturing the metroplitan core of Prague, while I went to the Holy Mountain of Andechs to find raw unworked rocks, picturing meteors in space.
We immerse ourselves into balancing stones – I am mastering this more and more with some amazing results! And we make knots, different knots, to find the best way to rig our rocks.
As always, we both can lose ourselves with ropes – and with balancing stones as well, as we are discovering these days.

Days two and three – rigging and rocks
As any interdisciplinary (inter-apparatus) aerialist knows, finding the best way to rig stuff, is a big part of the creative process. Rigging is not just about how to hang your equipment in order to be able to start creating. How, how high, on how many rigging points, how far from the walls, how far from each other, what ropes, what carbiners, shackles, slings, blocks, swivels, on pulley systems, counterweight, single point, joint together – these are creative decisions, not practical ones.
So we spend two whole days rigging and re-rigging rocks, with a lot of time trying to move on, with, and around them, finding moments that speak to us. We fail, and fail again, taking stuff up and down.
Our hands hurt from holding on to the ropes so much.

Day four – balance
We had to move to another space today (I hate that there is no proper residency space for longterm aerial research in Berlin. If there is a rich sponsor reading this blog – this is what we need!!!).
Today we decide on rigging four rocks in one row.
We spend most of the time standing on the hanging rocks, and finding ways to walk from one to the next – with and without hands, swinging and in stillness.

Day five – injury and stones
Our last day. Without rigging we play with our bodies, rocks, and stones. We come very close to injury and pain. This is the closest I have come to this since I began with my research.
We were in the moment of dancing and playing with stones. We alternated composing installations of bodies and stones, taking pictures of each other, then trying to move and dance through all the stones, feeling their weight and their coolness.
No, we didn’t hurt ourselves, but we offhandedly created images of injury, even death, created images of broken bodies.

Gefördert vom Fonds Darstellende Künste aus Mitteln der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.

Unterstützt vom VUESCH.