the Oren lazovski method
To continue my dancer-musician inquiry I attended a two day workshop held by Oren Lazovski on 17th – 18th April 2015 at the Deutsche Oper. Over these two days I sought to identify parallels with my findings and further insight within Lazovski’s practice and methodology.
Lazovski talked about his process as a deconstruction – when creating something complex, one must ‘take it apart and take it in small portions.’ This deconstruction provides a framework that resembles the process of chunking and layering as described on the previous page. It includes the following points in order. Similarities and differences are then shown in comparison to the DIPTIK process.
Awareness and Language
To go deeper into [this] fusion [of dance and music]… we [need to] talk very specifically about a personal story. First of all we have to go into ourselves. If you understand yourself you understand the world. If you can go inside yourself you can then reflect on what’s happening around you.
The first exercises, like with DIPTK, were movement based to increase body awareness. This awareness was in order to ‘[understand] the body … the qualities of movement and how to work with the body’. As all participants were musicians, exercises were structured using musical language to direct movements. For example, terms such as legato/staccato were used to describe smooth/jagged movements.
Lazovski has not yet worked with dancers who have music training and therefore he strictly uses musical terms as a language for describing movement. He has thus far only worked with musicians who have limited dance training if any. Rather than creating a score, we established a mental vocabulary of terms and movements. Using these terms Lazovski instructed us to show the extreme opposites. For example one might move ones arm legato (smoothly) then repeat the same movement but with a staccato (jagged) quality. This progressively built movement phrases and demonstrated to us how to use this language in later exercises.
Having established a body awareness and a vocabulary, Lazovski’s next step was to formulate intent. Unlike with DIPTIK where a tangible score was used to provide the performer intent, Lazovski left it to the performer and their personal, physical and emotional relationship with the instrument to create a narrative. Our previous understanding of awareness was extended here to integrating the instrument into the body. An exercise was run in approaching the musical instrument with a similar goal as Deborah Hay; to see the instrument as if one had never seen it before. This gave performers the chance to explore and develop a physical relationship without reference to prior training and opened up a world of movement possibilities using the instrument.
Lazovski expressed a belief that the awareness and intentions of a dancer-musician come from the relationship they have with the instrument itself. He observes this emotional relationship with the instrument as well as a physical one
When I do both [play the accordion while dancing]. … I’m of course busy carrying [the accordion] but at the same time there’s a very strong emotional connection because, psychologically, I’m carrying it with me. … It’s part of my body so [I] have more of a responsibility - a responsible awareness. … It’s not so much like falling in love with yourself – like when you dance.
Lazovski points out here that, in comparison with dancing without a musical instrument, there is less freedom of movement – a ‘responsible awareness’. For him this is due to not only the physical limitations but the emotional limitations as well. Therefore, his final task in instrumental awareness was to bring in feelings about the instrument - thinking back to when we very first experienced the instrument - and incorporate these emotions into our awareness and practice.
Once we had an awareness that fully integrated our instruments plus a language and sense of intention and purpose, our next step was to push the limitations and take risks. Lazovski drew a parallel with classical ballet, were the vocabulary of movements imitate nature and are humanly unnatural. The aim, like in ballet, is to make the unnatural seem natural. He gave the example of one workshop attendee who played her alto flute while rolling on the floor in a way he thought executed this super-human notion. This risk taking created something new and exciting.
During this workshop, Lazovski took us as far as taking risks with our new dancer-musician practice. When asked about the whole process for creating a dancer-musician work he added that the next step would be to explore the upper limits of simultaneous sound and movement, deepening the intentions. Therefore he corroborated the notion of contrasting ideas coexisting within the one performer. He added that further steps would be to work in pairs and in groups and that this is something he is yet to explore.
The most immediate difference in approach for the two projects is that Lazovski’s method was aimed purely at the individual, contrasting the DIPTIK method which was for a group. The DIPTIK performers who felt they did not practice as dancer-musicians enough, if at all, perhaps could have benefitted from individual work, like in Lazovski’s method. Using the instrument awareness process from Lazovski, the DIPTIK harpist and clarinettist may have been able to provide simultaneous sound and movement options for inclusion in the score.
One other difference in approach is that Lazovski aimed his research at musicians and did not ask for participants with dance training. On the other hand, Lazovski believes that parallel studies in music and dance are important for developing this dancer-musician practice to a professional standard – which he additionally believes is possible.
The differences in language are that Lazovski used musical terms as well as the physical and emotional relationship to a musical instrument for creating a narrative. The DIPTIK narrative derived from the score needed no emotional interpretation, aside from the natural reactions to stimuli in the moment. It therefore had the result of treating the DIPTIK performers as musical instruments themselves where as contrastingly, Lazovski’s work treats the performers as super-natural beings.
There are similarities in the approaches of DIPTIK and Lazovski for developing a dancer-musician practice. It has been demonstrated by both projects that the neurological process of chunking is important for establishing a framework as well as creating and learning a work.
Another similarity is the importance of body awareness. Lazovski emphasised an awareness including the musical instrument where as in DIPTIK, more body awareness was used perhaps due to the predominant soundscape being produced by the body. While the DIPTIK performers may have been more open to their environments as a result, the Lazovski performers were more open to their musical instruments. A combination of these two levels of awareness might produce powerful results.
Defining an intention and purpose was also important for both projects. To delineate this, the use of musical language was more important to Lazovski due to his exclusive work with musicians. For DIPTIK the combined use of music and dance instructions meant the resulting vocabulary was highly developed and effective for use in a group.
Taking risks was another element that both Lazovski and DIPTIK thought important. For DIPTIK this risk taking was confined to portraying the ideas represented in the DIPTIK#1 score where as Lazovski encouraged this risk taking within the individual and their personal narrative.