The Weathering Facilitator/Director/Choreographer

Ed Myhill and Angharad Jones-Young in On Weathered Rock, a two-day research collaboration with NDC Wales

When leading a creative process, titles such as facilitator, director and choreographer may be used. In essence, these roles are given to give a little bit more of the creative decision making to a certain body. This doesn’t necessarily mean a power-hungry hierarchy or despotic demander. In fact, it turns out a lot of creatives can be good people.

The following ideas come from my own developing research from the National Dance Company of Wales’ Laboratori program. Within this, I explored weather in relation to creation and, for the first time, assumed the title of choreographer for a week. What I found is that weather and direction can be linked. Both deal with how certain conditions affect an environment. Moreover, direction, like weather, can change in response to other factors. What I propose is only one lens. My hope is that these analogies (which work for some and not for others) may help articulate your own practice, allowing you to see what weather you bring into a space.

The Sun

To begin, we experience a powerful force. The Sun, a huge ball of burning gas, feeds our planet, our plants and pulls the ball of rock we call home across the solar system (if we like science, that is). The Sun can be something that brings us joy and is often associated with life. But, it can also be something that makes us sweat, fatigued and burned. It is definitely a powerful force that will get things done, a truly influential figure. In this sense, The Sun model of facilitation is based off a hierarchy. There is a recognition of The Sun’s place at the top. It shapes and moulds the space as it wishes. The dramaturgy is a realisation of The Sun’s vision, perhaps through set images, textual delivery or choreographic phrases. However, this process can be thoroughly enjoyable. There may be a shared sense of joy within the creative process across both the facilitator and the performers, even in times of stress (a focus on eustress instead of distress). The Sun firmly directs but enlivens the dancers.

The Rain

The Rain comes and goes. It drops in, leaving imprints and waves across a surface. The water then goes on a journey of its own. As it pours, it saturates. The Rain model is a provocateur. They give little pushes here and there, little drops of ideas. Sometimes they will influence more (a heavy spell) and sometimes it will only be a light drizzle. The content may be created through devising tasks, the performers creating it. It may then be provoked and affected by The Rain. Once the content is generated, The Rain saturates it with certain qualities such as textures and dynamics that align with the creative vision (if there is one).

The Wind

The Wind guides. it pushes material into a certain direction but may twist and turn. Within The Wind, there is definitely a sense of direction but the change of it may be sudden. One of the key principles here is a continuation, always moving forward. Moreover, The Wind moves with the material it carries. So, the facilitator in this model does not go into the process with a known outcome. They create material from tiny sparks and ideas such as themes and then, with the dancers, they go on the journey of creation. On this journey, hills, houses and trees may pose as obstacles. But, together with the dancers, they will find a way around this, even if this means changing direction. Constant movement forward and evolution.

The Cloud

The Cloud is a strange, liminal space. The white cloud covers the sky, diffusing light from the sun. The Cloud is a more passive model. They occasionally let a ray of light through. But, in the process, the creation really comes from the performers. It is almost like The Cloud is the last port of call for decisions with the performers figuring things out amongst themselves. The Cloud gives space for the artists to create, offers advice when asked and leaves the evolution of the piece to the artists.

The Snow

An interesting, cold space. Importantly here, is a detachment between the facilitator and the facilitated. But unlike The Sun, the process may not be all smiles. That is not to say it is a negative process. There may just be a more serious tone in the room. It could be a more established, respected director who merely goes into a room, gives material and leaves. There may be a sense of development after the material is given, but the facilitator may not be present. The Snow falls and leaves piles. They are there to share and create, not to necessarily play and laugh.

These are my first iterations of these ideas. I hope that you identify with certain elements and also see elements of others that may be useful I sometimes will direct as Rain but then switch to Sun. At times, it will be Snow, swiftly followed by Wind. There are many more nuances to explore and if anything is taken from this, it is that reflection on practice can utilize symbols as a way of comprehension.

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