Written by Dance Maker and Team Member Henry Montes on Creative Encounters at Beaumont Court
I enter the lounge about half an hour before we are meant to begin and already the space is aflutter with clearing, rearranging the padded chairs and seats to create a circle which takes in 3/4 of the room. There is the organisation of who will sit where and would this be the place where they can be most supported, most themselves. There is no time for the artists to gather due to the handful of residents already in the lounge. I run off with Lucy S., to ask another resident to join us. Upstairs there is building work taking place in some of the rooms, the origin of some initial rumbling a few weeks back. We knock on G’s door and he needs little coaxing as he is keen to join us on this day. Before going we are drawn to his collection of bird sculptures on his window. G points out the various birds of prey, coincidentally, only a day ago, I was able to learn the word for this in Spanish; ave de rapina. Back in the lounge, now with more residents lining the circle, the launch of the session seems to have taken off…
An origami bird seems to come out of nowhere, probably made from magazine, which fits in the palm of one’s hand. This was Lucy C.’s offering. It was passed around and shown to the residents. For some it was more paper plane than bird. In the other direction of the circle a postcard of a robin circulated. And so these stirrings of references set the early stages as sounds and movement crystallised.
Often as I reflect back on these sessions I ask myself if certain choreographic propositions would be useful, but in the actual breathing session they seldom make sense and easily backfire. In the course of 45 minutes there is much to take in. It’s not easy to untangle the strands that take place as the memory weaves its way, I am left with sensations and few words. Still I can distinguish the crests and the dips, the always foreseeable rhythmical hoedown, the moments where the music seems to be searching for its own end. And we are all players, co-creators in this unraveling eco-system. And over the weeks I notice changes; the residents more comfortable in taking personal initiative, there is more space for other less vocal residents to be allowed to be heard and shine in their own way. There is less dialogue and more listening.
Sea references come up often; waves, swirls, shhhhh sounds, water tones from rain-sticks (hand held musical instrument). For some drawing is most soothing, for others it’s moving and singing, others simply being with one instrument. Some come and go in their attention, their presence lap-ping the shore in phases.
I take with me moments that make no sense, no linear sense. I sit on the outside of the circle with two women delighted with the goings but clear in needing to observe from afar. Occasionally sharing the odd few words and one always erupting in laughter. At times she utters what I cannot comprehend, at least to my understanding, but clearly meaningful to her. Another fit of laughter and smiles. These moments of sharing yet not always bridging a linear mode of thinking, processing, expression, gives me room to rejoice in the simplicity of a common moment. Allowing me to be grateful for the nonsensical life offers.
We’ve been experimenting with non-endings, this way the residents and artists can choose to linger in the room and continue if they wish. I come across a thumb piano, a small wooden square frame which when rested between two hands, the metal keys, can be played with the thumbs. I showed it to V and asked him to play it with me. V found it challenging co-ordinating his thumb with pushing and letting go of the prong-like keys, but soon grew in confidence and could distinguish the sounds coming through. In both our clumsy attempts to make resonance of this small box a fleeting kinship bonds us.
Every session is its own animal. It takes on its own shape as we allow it to take form and rise.