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Rosemary Lee
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Portfolio
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Choreochronicle
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Passage
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Caught by seeing
down arrow Beached
 
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Beached: A Commonplace Book
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Introduction
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‘In the field’
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Field Notes
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A walk to Iken
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Hoarding
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References +
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Image gallery
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the Suchness of Heni
and Eddie
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Process writings
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A Tribute to Michael Donaghy 1954-2004
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A tribute to Niki Pollard
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Audio links on this page
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We operate on many levels, waking and dreaming, as we make our way through a topic; but then we foreshorten the whole process in the service of a consistent, conclusive voice or genre. I wanted to resist that a bit.
– James Clifford (2000)

Rosemary Lee and Niki Pollard      
A paper first presented at the Dance and Performance Ethnography Forum
at De Montfort University, 24 January 2004:

How to hoard: writing field notes of rehearsals

bullet arrowAbstract

Production FlyerIntroduction

Niki: This co-authored paper draws on the ongoing reflexive research by Rosemary Lee, choreographer and ResCen Research Associate at Middlesex University, into her processes of dance-making. My involvement in that research is through doctoral enquiry, also at Middlesex University, into writing’s account of dance making. Today we will be discussing a project that reworked rehearsal notebooks into a short book of bi-vocal reflections on dance-making.

Rosemary could not be here today but has prepared voice recordings for this presentation.

Rosemary: bullet arrowNotebook page and audio clip

Niki: bullet arrowNotebook page

Niki: This page begins a kind of ‘field journal’ for my observations of the second stage of rehearsals for Beached. As I remember, I began this journal without thought that it might later become material for publication. Rather, from working with Rosemary previously, on a website about the making of her dance-work, Passage (2001), I had in mind that even a sparse record of what happened, from one rehearsal to the next, might add useful detail to our later discussions (particularly as, unlike with Passage, little in the studio would be video documented).

In recording what I observed in rehearsal, my journal is also reflexive of how I observed. For example, on the page shown, it recounts how I tried to find a place for myself in the studio, both physically and metaphorically. It suggests that I expected the dancers would feel uneasy at being watched by a newcomer, a disengaged ‘researcher’, and which I attempted to allay by not sitting alongside Rosemary, that is in the space set out for an imagined audience. Rather than that the dancers be acutely aware of my watching, as they are of choreographer or of audience, I sought their unconcern, as if at a technician watching for a cue. I equally wished to be overlooked by Rosemary, neither an element for direction, nor an interruption. The place I found was ‘between bags and bin’, a space mundane and insignificant to Rosemary’s rehearsal.

Unlike the previous page from Rosemary’s notebook, this writing is a worked, edited version of the real-time notes that I made in the studio. ‘Writing up’ my notes as a journal for Rosemary, I added sections such as this from memory as my sense of reading coherence demanded. In the writing of my remembered experience, however, I detail motivations and strategies that I was not reflexively aware of when I acted. Reading back, the journal’s reasoning seems apt if incomplete. Yet, though the writing accounts richly for my decision (I wrote it, after all), I am curious that at the time I was not aware of it as a decision: I simply sat, it felt, in the only place I could.

It is these kinds of odd nuance that we are researching, nuance that comes in writing of decisions made as action – that is, as far as we remember, made without conscious verbal reflection.

 

   
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