Developing a Nomadic Practice
Starting in the centre of the body the torso, shoulders and pelvis, knees and elbows, cave in. Moving from one position to another in a constant process of mutation each position is realised out of the internal collapse of the previous one. Varying and changing without a pre-given purpose or goal, the enactment of becoming is revealed through time. But this enactment does not resolve or complete rather it continues in a state of flux.
(Midgelow, 2007, unpaginated)
Whilst much of the discourse of improvisation has pointed towards the qualities of presence and the importance of being ‘in the moment’, here I place an emphasis the experience of time and space in the practice of improvisation. A review of improvisation practices reveals a lexicon that is full of terms that are suggestive of journeys, flows, connectivities, metamorphosis and transformations. Such language, and the dance practices that draw upon/generate them, are suggestive of temporal, physical and geographical shifts and embody underlying nomadic themes.
Feminist philosopher Rosie Braidotti articulates a nomadism which, while evolving from observation of the nomadic lifestyle, it is not a literal nomadism. Rather Braidotti notes:
[T]he nomadism in question here refers to the kind of critical consciousness that resists settling into socially coded modes of thought and behavior. Not all nomads are world travelers; some of the greatest trips can take place without physically moving from ones habitat. It is the subversion of set conventions that defines the nomadic state, not the literal act of traveling. (1994a: 5)
For Braidotti the nomad’s identity and stability does not depend on the places she goes through, but on the symbolic home she carries along on the journey. Thus, the nomad does not stand for homelessness (i.e. complete detachment from all roots) nor "compulsive displacement" (with its attendant longing for home), but rather for "the kind of subject who has relinquished all idea, desire, or nostalgia for fixity"(p.22).
This kind of embodiment accords with the values and experiences of dance improviser as she relinquishes the desire for fixity, celebrating instead movement processes that emphasise emergence, folding/unfolding and becoming. These nomadisms I suggest reflect particularized ways of knowing and being in dance and in the world, and through them we have the potential to refigure subjectivities and promote a connectedness to the changing body and to the bodies of others. This blog seek to unravel what this means in practice.