Well, we did it! The Vital Signs festival took place over the weekend and proved a fantastically creative and nourishing meeting of words, moves and beings. My prevailing impression at present is how delightfully the chemistry of performances and participants developed over the weekend. Where the performances were concerned, from Camilla Nelson’s intensely focused enquiry into embodied reading, Mary Pearson’s exuberant mosaic of possible identities, Alison Gibb and Elaine Thomas’ devastating exploration of industrial forestry, and Sarie and my attempt to wrestle with the truth, I felt we’d brought together a very comprehensive range of approaches to integrating language and movement. And this felt true of the workshops also, whose offerings fell on the rich ground of an incredibly willing and creative group which included writers, artists, musicians and dancers as well as those who identify with none or all of these categories! I had the additional pleasure of seeing people who come from quite different areas of my life coming together and creating spectacular performances in a matter of minutes! Thanks to all the performers for leading these enquiries and also to our special guest Diane Amans who brought her own quality of playful and enabling enquiry to our work together – accompanied by John Killick’s sensitive poems co-written by people with a dementia diagnosis. Thanks also to Sally-Shakti Willow for leading a deeply restorative yoga session on Sunday morning, which helped to keep body, mind and spirit in harmony!
Reflecting on the aftermath of Mary Pearson’s gorgeously convened final group improvisation, the space that we created together feels like one I want to inhabit much more often. It’s rich with potential for serious play to spill out into the wider world and create unpredictable and necessary transformations. I feel somewhat rearranged as a result – the world looks slightly different, energy flows in altered ways, new things are already afoot!
Although the festival is over, our project very much continues. We travel to Paris this Sunday to rehearse and give a performance at a Jazz Improvisation festival at the Cite Internationale Universitaire that we began preparing with Pierre Levy and Boris Wiseman back in July (photographed by Alizee Gau — see the blog entry for 9-10 July). And on 23 October we take part in Drift at The Lowry, Salford Quays. And we’ll also be looking to re-engage with our audience and think about how to take the collective aspects of the enterprise further.
For some initial blog responses, see Sean Fitton’s blog here.
For more details of the poetry book I launched this weekend, see here.
A wealth of video and photographic documentation of the festival will follow in due course, so we’ll keep you posted on that.
Huge gratitude once again to all the particpants, facilitators, performers and supporters who made this such a special weekend!
(Pictured – some of my cards with texts for improvised performance that Sarie and I used in our workshop on Sunday…)