Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mission: Play & Explore

On January 8th, I led a True Body/New Year workshop with Rachel Roberts at the Yoga Bar in Cincinnati. As part of the session, we thought about the action systems of the body and considered which areas we got stuck in and which areas could use some work. The eight systems (from integrative wellness modalities) are Defense, Attachment, Caregiving, Exploratory, Play, Sociability, Sexuality and Energy Regulation.

Pretty much everyone in the room that day determined that we could use more time for Exploration and Play.

Enter the Nick Cave Soundsuits, just in the nick of time.

Yesterday, I visited Heather Britt at the Cincinnati Ballet and got to put on a world famous Nick Cave Soundsuit and goof around in it so Heather could see how they move as she begins to create choreography for public performances at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Nick Cave is a former Alvin Ailey dancer, a visual artist and educator extraordinaire and he has been making these suits for 20 years, out of all sorts of materials including twigs and human hair and other odd adornments.

At first they feel cumbersome and smelly, these heavy two-piece suits of raffia and knitted or crocheted underthings. With mask and clown wig, the ensemble is complete.

And then you do as you must in a suit like this: you begin to move. You want to hear the swishy swishy sound it makes as you undulate the raffia. You shimmy and you shake and you roll and you jump. You make a car wash with a friend. You move like a bird. You pile up your feathers.

The weight of the suit makes the movement more intriguing because you can feel your limbs in space. It all takes just enough of an effort to slow it down to be compelling and purposeful and silly and fun. Somewhere between tribal and absurd, the experience is playful and exploratory and AWESOME!

"Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we piled up in a Soundsuit heap?"
"Watch this!"
"Do the car wash thing with me."
"Wait, try this!"

An hour or so of Soundsuiting experiments later, we gave them back to Emily Holtrop to take back to the Cincinnati Art Museum for safe keeping.

So this coming Friday, at the Museum opening of Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth, you will have the chance to meet the artist and see the suits in action. Don't miss it. Report back to me.

I will be in LA en route to Cambodia and Bali for more play and exploration. I too will report.

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