Violence has been the way of expression of the man kind for ages. In this work we are trying to investigate fights the most simple form of human aeration and incorporate it in to a movement theater. We are dancers, each from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences in dance, but still curious about exploring movement together, still trying to communicate on different levels.
The first phase of the project was a residency in Vienna at Dans.Kias studio were we where researching some ideas together with other dancers. Abhilash Ningappa then continued to develop the ideas with dancers in India and other countries. As a collective we now want to continue this process towards a further research and production.
We aim discover different approaches to what means fight for us in a daily process, each bringing in his or her own dance-background, but also skills from other art forms as Karate, Kung fu, singing or Acting.
On one hand we work on the technique, how to handle a fight situation, we aim to create Partnering phrases with attack and defense movements. Our focus lies on the real situation in which you need to defend yourself. As dancers we research, how to do this, while it’s not so important to follow the exact rules of one specific Martial Art, but to use whatever could help us as strategy to get out of the situation where somebody tries to force us to stay in.
On the other hand, researching the real situation of a fight makes us question, what the term fight actually means. When does a person start to fight? Where does the confrontation get so dangerous that we call it fight? Is the point, where the person is still thinking and mentally handling the situation, a real fight? Or does this real fight start when the real fear comes, in the moment where you’re conscious self reflection stops; the body saves its energy and just reacts as fast as possible?
The work is based on physical as well as ideological exploration of fighting situations, confrontation in between two bodies so two people and two forces.
Basic Exercises from Kung Fu, karate and kalaripayattu (mostly focusing on training reflect, speed, different qualities of movement, concentration and coordination) - Intensive body work; yoga, breathing exercises including pranayama,- Working on the mobility of spine, exercises based on Axis Syllabus and Feldenkrais methods.
Description of the physical tasks during our first residency:
We were working on physical tasks and exercises which are based on techniques used in martial arts. During the process we were also composing improvised fighting sequences which were the combination of forms used in partnering and Contact Improvisation. Nevertheless it was all our creative work and exploration. One of the exercises which had the biggest impact on our understanding of fighting situation was about creating a situation in which one person is limited in the movement but still trying to escape from attack. The task was very physical because attacking person had to create almost maximum limitation. This situation was a starting point of fighting, arriving in the moment were there is no more freedom to move. Used force and limitation are evoking the physical and mental reaction. Dancers who are fighting in couples are going through different stages of feelings and emotions; often they have to face their own borders. It is a very rich and deep experience and getting even more intensive when partners are trying to escape from each other. Exploring physical reaction on situation where people are getting close on the fighting field is raising lots of question that appear in mind:
Am I enjoying being close before fight, what exactly do I feel? Where are my borders/limits? When and why do I want to escape or when and why am I enjoying fighting the most? Why am I curious about the next move even though it seems to be difficult to defense or attack?
We physically induce situations in which we experience the real necessity for defense. The moment of not having another chance but to fight is created for example by lying under several persons who don’t let you move. This specific physical state evokes a strong emotion, which makes you panic and concentrate all your energy to the single goal to escape, or as another reaction to attack. With experimenting the overload of a body with physical manipulations we experience the state of the “mindless” body.
We also ask for the situations in which we fight. In which relation the fighters stand to each other, which physicality do they use?
Is the voice a fighting instrument? By practicing Voice exercises we find out how to use the strength of voice and how it can affect the appearance in a fighting situation.
approach we work on is given by questioning our awareness: What do we
perceive as fight? How is the body moving so that we call it fighting
– maybe also fighting with itself? And finally the question arises
: Where does the need for attack actually come from? What brings the
peaceful person in the state of attacking?
Another very interesting aspect of fighting situation is concentration. Concentrating might be perceived as an action of coming into deep dialogue with your body and mind. Being able to arrive in a different state of mind is helping to be calmer in fighting. Sometimes the calmer is your mind the more alert becomes your body. In danger, in confrontation we tend to wake up senses very fast. Another exercise which is worth to mention was helping the dancers to reach a deeper state of sensation and awakening senses. Dancers were working in couples where one person was a leader and another had to follow the instructions so given directions of movement with closed eyes. That helps to develop trust or experience the lack of trust, to become more alert. Bringing another person into “unsure” is the most efficient way to awake the senses. The last exercise I want to describe shortly has a lot of potential to be interpreted and explore in a different contexts. It might even explain the social aspects of fighting situation.
Dancers were standing in front of each other in a distance and slowly moving to each other. From the moment they got closer, they were coming into “hug”. In the “hug” one person always tried to stop another, create limits, even to be annoying so that the other person was truly wishing to escape. That exercise was very physical and intensive, sometimes evoking states of aggression or fear. This fight was turning into longer improvisation which was developing into different directions. It was traveling between the moments of high physical intensity through softer dance. Such improvisation is like a constant dialogue. It might be a nice picture/metaphor of the situations when people somehow cope with each other. It is beautiful to observe that in dance. From my point of view dance is just reflecting us… How we deal, how we are in dance or in fight usually tells a lot about how we are in everyday life but also it is interesting to play with it!
Social aspects of fight
During the process we were also discussing a lot about different state of body and mind in the moment of confrontation. We were mostly trying to understand the reasons of fight, the way of behaving in fight, some reactions in body (conscious and unconscious) emotions that appear, reaching the state of calmness, acknowledging the power.
Fighting appears on a different platform of our life. You might say that it starts from the moment we open our eyes every morning because sometimes we have to fight tiredness or particular mood in order to start a new day. There are some days in our life when we are fighting like mad. Fighting for rights, fighting for love, for life for the things we carry the most. We never want to loose, rather be always ready and prepared, feeling strong enough to handle the difficult situations. How beautiful it is not let the nerves take over! In order to get familiar with the state of calmness we might want to build our inner strength. To do this we should get familiar with the state of fight, start to explore the situation of confrontation more deeply. It helps to understand ourselves more, to be able to recognize our limits. And finally to be able to survive in the wild world which might give us an impression of beautiful heaven but we never know when and how will disappoint…
For us it’s always interesting to explore various situations (in that case fight) through physicality. It requires mature approach and openness for the new situation especially when a person doesn’t come from a martial arts background. Trying to understand the nature of the fight leads us to different approaches of this situation. It was worth to explore and experience that in this movement research because I realized that fighting is a beautifully powerful dance and a constant game. Why do we play? I think each has a reason…
What we are interested in is looking at an interdisciplinary approach to dance. Rediscovering both martial art and contemporary dance through each other. The martial arts is predominantly seen as aggressive or brutal but if you see a real master you see the calmness, they are like dancers, they move at the right place right time. They breath, they stay still, grounded they are soft movers. Both these fields offer a completely body centric approach, knowing your body, knowing the space around you, letting your breath move your body and explore.
Space becomes as alive as the body throbbing with absence and presence, being cut, sliced, made whole again with bodies in it, out of it. Time is an integral part of both these disciplines and more so in the martial arts. It’s a fight, a fight where your body is your weapon as well as your armor. A wrong step or a wrong move can be fatal. It is interesting to apply this to dance, to see your other dancers as opponents. Martial arts presuppose a fight between good and evil. The bad guys and the good guys those are available in most movie genres. The protagonist and the antagonist propelled by their own desires, their own ambitions. Life isn't so clear cut and dry, the world is not divided into the good and the evil. The shades of grey dominate such spaces. The antagonist is as much a shade of grey as the protagonist. Why is it that the hero always wins? I was thinking what if the bad guy wins because he is more courageous? Or maybe luck favors him? Looking at us performers the performance for us is like one big fight, we prepare like hell and we perform and then we get ready for another one. Somehow we are all fighters inside. Battle is symptomatic of the kind of lives we lead today. We fight for everything with everyone. We fight in relationships, in friendships. We fight for our views, for our beliefs. We fight against fighting.more news items