CROWD was a unique and fascinating experience. I was offered the opportunity to meet practitioners I may never have come across, as well as ones I might, and visit places I wouldn’t have ever gone for work, as well as ones that were familiar. This is a challenging project that asks you to work in and with established organisations, their communities and environment, through a rapid and rigorous look at the context of their work. With the support of a local guide-come-researcher-come-dramaturg, we were able to discover a perspective of life lived in each location; it’s history and also right now (2021) and what is to come.
I found there were strong threads running through each phase; themes that were manifested in the group’s collective mind in the first residency, quietly nurtured throughout the tour. These threads were industry, pollution/scars, class, race, women’s struggles: mental health, grief, protest, shame. Ghosts, scores/maps, practical stuff: how the arts organisation is run, how to include rest and food and socialising in the work, what travel means to us, the list goes on… I found that, as a young artist working with predominantly local (Nottingham) community groups, I was very excited by the opportunity to cross Europe for this work. However, it did require use of air travel, something I generally try to avoid.
Some personal developments I took from the project:
Our Finnish hosts at Taikabox were extremely accommodating, flexible and warm. I took from them the importance of articulating pride in community practice, living in – in order to understand – a place, and that comfortable domestic environments are vital for artists to create meaningful work.
There was something incredibly respectful about the people we met and the community workshops on Varjakka island lent themselves to rituals and gentle, radical respect, vulnerability and love. For myself I am able to identify a new form of grief work that is movement-lead, ritualistic and collective – informed by community-based practices.
From Nottingham I can take communication skills, as we all advanced in those. We worked hard to find common language and a routine, to listen and respond with generosity.
I also found new international networks, in the city I called home. This was a very useful and exciting part of the project. I met partners from every country involved and felt valued in their conversations about the future iterations of CROWD.
In Germany I learned resilience and resourcefulness when it felt things were at a low ebb. I also developed my ideas about scores, with support from my collaborators. My mark-making practice has since evolved and I’m creating new disseminative, directive scores for dance interpretation and participation.
A much deeper sense of myself as an independent artist with a defined practice; there is nothing like seeing how other people work to get a stronger sense of your own style and identity!
Last of all, journaling! The importance of writing and drawing in order to comprehend experiences as they fly by. CROWD was such a dense, complex piece of work in such a brief period of time. My journals are the echo from that time and I refer to them often.
Overall I found the experience rewarding. I worked in new ways with new people in new places and that taught me a lot about myself.