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  • Writer's pictureashlee

Practicalities, Productivity & Procrastination

Day 10, May 5, Studio

After a week off sick, I returned to the Studio. There were rehearsal notes from QL2’s Rebel stuck to the walls, a visual reminder that the Studio is a working space that has a very different feel to the empty Theatre I had been using recently.

I had just taken action on my recent decisions to create a website and reduce my teaching hours. Consequently, my schedule and workload were very much on my mind, and so I spent some time researching Parkinson’s Law (of time management) and how to beat it before my pre-journaling today. Basically, I was going down a productivity rabbit hole - i.e., procrastinating.

It turns out I also did some of my pre-journaling today by talking to the camera. Now I never intended to publicly vlog here, and the sound quality isn’t great, but here’s past me to continue contextualising Day 10…

Yep, I also decided to play with a phone app that records timelapse video to film today’s session. I had thought that timelapse footage might be a good way to document all the time I spent in the space. It did throw up some difficulties, however. Using a timelapse app gives me less agency than using regular video and speeding it up later, as there is no ability to slow the timelapse footage back to real time if needed (timelapse footage is actually a series of photos taken at certain intervals over a long period of time and played back in swift succession). Before today, I had been using the mediation timer app on my phone while using a separate digital camera to film. It turns out I wasn’t able to use the two apps on the one device for both purposes simultaneously, so that was initially a bit of a fail.

Today’s 20 min warm-up score: Meditate 7 mins, stretch/warm-up 5 mins, warm-up improv 8 mins.

The warm-up dance is definitely a frame, but it moved from sinewy and continuous to thoughtful and indicative of tussles between embracing and avoiding the mundane, or going deeper and abstracting it. Though I’m starting to feel more settled in the structure/routine of the practice and what I do with the documentation side of things, I still need to work hard to stay focused on the physical - the practice itself – before there is something to document, plan, structure or reflect on.

I found myself wondering if I should return to short scores like the ones Courtney gave me way back at the end of last year. I found myself wondering if and how I should integrate text back into the dance practice. I found myself distracted by the ticking clock again. Funny how sometimes white noise is helpful and sometimes it invades…

I also wrote that researching Parkinson’s Law was probably a way of dealing with the anxiety and questions I had about what might happen come July or October when my Homefront funding would run out or when I could be launching into a full-time development if my application for support was successful. How would I structure that stage of the movement research and how would I narrow my focus for a development?


Really, it’s a structure for Open Practice, not exactly a score. I remembered that term, Open Practice, from university – didn’t I? I had trouble trying to research it and where it came from – apparently ‘Open Practice’ is a very generic phrase to try and Google. Not sure if the term is attributed to one particular artist or if it is used generally throughout the industry, but it is one that is useful to me now.

  1. Started as a balance challenge á la Trisha Brown, attempting to perform a Leaning Duet by myself. The influence of the QL2 project slowly overpowered this until it became a dance of spies and Rebels.

  2. A less present continuation of the previous, preoccupied with habits (those elbows!)

  3. Memories of Lake March morphing into YouTubers who perform their lives, obsessed with metadata.

  4. A decision to surrender to the inevitability of the off-task/practical/life-admin related thoughts arising. It became a dance of arms - possibly a surrendering to the elbow habit, or an embracing of it!

Another idle thought that came up today was an idea about creating some kind of daily practice that might establish a sense of flow throughout the week, linking my work at home to the work in the studio. However, I didn’t exactly follow through on this thought for quite some time (stay tuned!). A possible answer to those earlier anxieties during warm-up also surfaced: What if the question WHAT DO YOU WANT is actually the focus of the work?

Day 11, May 6, Studio

I was late to the studio today because I stopped by Garema Place on my way in to see the colourful and lively Soul Defenders do their thing. So, to get started I jumped straight into a warm-up with the timer: 6 minutes for meditation, 6 minutes for warm-up stretches, and 8 minutes for the warm-up dance.

Most of the first 12 minutes were spent on the floor with my eyes closed, leading to quite a considered, meditative dance, though I did manage to get out of the floor and open my vision out eventually. My spine was feeling good, but the niggles from the old injury had travelled to my hip and SIJ (sacroiliac joint), which was incredibly frustrating.

I was thinking about my tendency to play with balance and precarious movement during improvisation, and how much I enjoy it. I wondered if balance could be classed as a form of gesture, or perhaps the trait of a character I often find myself embodying? Possibly it is simply a way for me to unconsciously (or not so unconsciously!) avoid movement that would test my cardio fitness!

The mental tussle with allowing myself to ‘present as a dancer’ whilst dancing continued. Should I embrace symmetry or performance or any sense of having access to traditional dance shapes, postures or gestures? Or should I be pushing my creative rigour by avoiding all this? And then what about the (hypothetical) audience? Perhaps gesture is something for the viewer to recognise and latch onto? How much live improvisation is accessible to an audience purely due to recognisable gesture or some other conceit or motif that functions in the same way? That old advice to ‘Find an occupation! Dance is boring!’ flashed into my mind again…

Cue timelapse attempt #2. I filmed the 4x5+2 dance using both the timelapse app on my phone and in real time on my camera today, determined that at least some of my tech would come through for me. When I started dancing, I was hyper aware of the two lenses capturing the event from their respective corners of the room. I thought of the Observer Effect from physics (which I know very little about) where the nature of an experiment is affected by the observation of the experiment. In this context, was my dance doubly affected today? Was there a multilayering of self-consciousness emerging? And if so, did the cameras pick it up?

I had so many questions today. Who are my influencers now? Which of my teachers and collaborators’ physicalities can be detected in my movement after 18 months in Canberra? Have I changed? Do I ‘look’ more Canberra than Melbourne yet, or does Melbourne run too deep? Was I as present as I could be today? Can I articulate the experience of completing the same ‘score’ two days in a row? Does it feel good to go deep within the same structure or does it go stale too quickly? If it’s the latter, could that be a good thing – forcing me to develop new scores or approaches to the practice? Am I asking too many questions with no attempt at answering them?? (Probably.) Can I remember the four dances?

  1. Dancerly and performative. I seem to think of arms and performing as being interrelated.

  2. From a (Pilates-related?) memory of ribs and breath and being heavy. The breath took over.

  3. Exploring various shaking movements but trying not to embody illness… perhaps instead a pleasant narrative foreshadowing or energetic invigoration!

  4. An identity crisis that needed to be vocalised. Contemplating a spectrum with ‘silly’ at one end and ‘valid’ at the other. ‘Back to wondering how I look and if it’s enough to be valid. Or silly. Or if they aren’t mutually exclusive’

And still more thinking. Thinking I should really book in with an osteo or physio for that niggle. Thinking about an idea of creating a kind of advent calendar of movement scores. Thinking about how I might be able to get my phone to run both the timer and timelapse apps together…

This is the third dance. The shaking is what I remembered that day in my writing, but looking at the footage now, it was only the identity of the beginning of the dance. Actually, it had its own little arc. After shaking, it became a matter of How long can I stand on one leg? In how many ways and with how many gestures on top? The isolation game (a favourite of mine) emerged, then bounced into the daggiest of daggy boogies, before returning through the balance challenge back to shaking again.

At the end of the day I did end up with two sets of footage from the two devices. Considering I was experimenting with the possibilities of timelapse to quickly and easily document – and therefore share – the practice, I posted that footage on Instagram.

So, I guess the upshot was it's a bit… funny. Maybe it should have been obvious going in, but there’s something inherently comical about people moving in fast forward, and that was definitely reflected in the comments. Flamingo indeed! Timelapse photography is well suited to documenting slow change or progress, and while it kind of is an effective way to show how I spent my time and that I spent my time, it didn’t really do the ‘work’ justice. I did contemplate it for a bit longer, but ultimately, I put this idea to rest.



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