Back in October I participated in a workshop with Gabriele Reuter and Mattef Kuhlmey based around their piece The Amplitude which is about tuning into acoustic waves and the relationship between movement and sound. You can view a work in progress of the whole piece from Nottdance Festival 2015 here.
Gabriele is another De Montfort graduate, from the Dance and Arts Management course and has been producing her own work and collaborations since 2003. Mattef is a sound designer and engineer, composer and musician. He has worked with a range of well-known German dance artists and choreographers and runs his own electronic music label.
The workshop was two hours and was in one of the university studios and heavily subsidised, so it was an opportunity I really couldn’t refuse. I knew absolutely nothing about the artists or their work before going to the workshop other than a quick google search beforehand as I missed the performance they did in Leicester a few days before unfortunately!
After a quick warm up we explored sound compositions using what was around us in the room and our bodies, it was very interesting to see how this built up and hear the different sounds we were creating into a composition. It was effective in making everyone work together well and tune into each other as well as the room.
There was a microphone set up to record the sounds within the room and once we had all tuned into the sounds in the room successfully, this was turned on and we began to amplify the sounds – this is where Mattef’s role came in. To demonstrate, Gabriele ‘made offers’ to Mattef by moving around the space and creating sound with different body parts and playing around with what was in the room and Mattef then selected from that what he thought was interesting and felt he could work with; there was a clear establishment of their relationship within the collaboration. As a group, we played around with this for a while, working together with Mattef to create our own soundscapes from improvised movement around the space.
The next task we did was a choreographic score called Solo and Backing Dancers. Relatively self-explanatory, but in case you haven’t guessed – one person gets into the space and calls the solo. Then as many dancers as want to be involved join the soloist and explore ways of complimenting the soloist, whether this be copying their movement, performing complimentary movement or just choosing moments of stillness in the space around them. After a while of exploration with this, a tiny hand microphone was introduced – this was strapped to one dancer’s hand so that their movement was directly being picked up and played out loud. It didn’t always have to be the soloist with the microphone – it was quite nice to have it as the backing dancer as they could produce sound to compliment the soloist’s movement. I had the chance to have the microphone on my hand as a soloist, and found it really tempting to just use hand movements but that wasn’t necessary to create an interesting sound. As it went on I felt my relationship with Mattef become clearer as I started to understand what works best for him to pick up on. I had complete control over my backing dancers but it took a while for me to realise this; again, as it went on I got better at understanding the relationships within the space and what we were creating, what worked well and what things weren’t as effective.
Overall I found it an interesting and enriching experience as it was a completely unique way of working – just the concept of creating sound with movement being the initiator instead of just dancing to music that already exists.
Here are some questions I was asked to send feedback on:
How did the session inform your dance practice?
It was really interesting for me to work with two artists from different areas in a collaboration, as I’ve only ever worked with dancers in making work previously. The concept opened my eyes to other possibilities within the industry and what is possible in performance.
Which parts of the workshop would you like to explore further if there was more time?
It would’ve been good to have more time to experiment with the microphones attached to the hand, as this was only a short exploration at the end and felt like it took a bit of time just to get used to how it worked and explore the possibilities of what you can create using it. It may also have been fun to learn some of the sections from the piece and then use those to inspire our own material using the same idea.
Do you have any other feedback?
I really liked the structure of the workshop and the build up of different activities, it was clear that one task informed the next one and it flowed from one thing to another really well. It was also nice to have the freedom to explore whichever aspects we wanted to and work together on creating work rather than just working individually.
Much Love x