Breathe out slowly. Write the Movement. *
I came across the Creative Articulations Process (CAP) whilst researching for my PhD proposal a few years ago. My own area of interest is solo practice, and finding ways to resource the solo artist to enable that practice led me to the Choreographic Practices Journal and CAP. Up to that point I had worked with Halprin’s RSVP cycles (which I wrote about here) and had nurtured a particular interest in the notion/s of ‘resource’ and/as ‘disruption’. My initial encounter with CAP, via an article in the Choreographic Practices journal, left me perplexed. I understood and was drawn to the idea of unpacking the creative process, but didn’t understand the focus on language and “languaging”. I parked the thought somewhere in my mind that I should look into this further, but for the meantime I worked with a simpler version in the form of Josiah Hinks’ 5 facets process (which I worked with and wrote about here). Having since started my doctoral research, I looked up CAP again, saw this workshop coming up and instantly booked. And there I was.
Sit still for 10 minutes, mark the page
The workshop was led by CAP creators Vida Midgelow and Jane Bacon at Dance4 in Nottingham and ran over two weekends in November/ December 2019.
Sit upside down, record the view
I write here as a visiting tourist to this practice, my aim is to capture to the page the final resonances of the work, mainly so that this writing might become a resource for me in the future. However I am still new to this place and I write this more as an excited traveller might write home to describe a wonderful place they’ve just seen. It’s incomplete and likely full of errors. But it is where I start.
Take a few steps, write the story
CAP consists of 6 facets through which one cycles in a creative / somatic process. The facets are: Opening, Situating, Delving, Raising, Anatomizing and Outwarding. Each facet employs different modalities: movement (or being in the body), languaging (which might be written or spoken) and the slightly indirect expression on the page via drawing or mark making.
Opening – Arriving, noticing, being present to the now, settling
Situating – What do I bring to this space? What stories and histories are present?
Delving – What’s there? Plunging into the dark and rummaging around.
Raising – Pulling something out. What draws your attention?
Anatomizing – Shaking it up. Letting go of whatever you’ve found and looking at it differently. What else might it be?
Outwarding – A temporary conclusion. What is this thing right now?
The process is rhizomatic: any number of facets might be present at any one time.
CAP is not a scripted form. It is mobile and can interface with other practices or processes with which you work.
Feel into words before they hit the page, let them dance their way there.
CAP may be practiced as a daily / weekly hour-long practice which the creators call “the ground form”. Or it can be practiced in its expanded version, which might stretch out over hours, days, months, years.
The ground form is a structured and time limited means by which to practice the qualities of each facet. It involves spending 10 minutes in each facet. 5 of those minutes are spent in the body and 5 are spent on the page. It can be used as a means of generating resources for a longer practice or as an isolated practice in itself.
The expanded version may or may not be time limited. My sense is that the expanded version offers a framework (via the labelling of facets) by which to move through and articulate where one is within a process. One might spend days cycling through just two facets (such as Delving and Raising, Delving and Raising, Delving and Raising) and perhaps knowing that this is happening might be a useful prompt to shift forwards, towards Outwarding or backwards to Opening. Perhaps…
Close your eyes, write a secret dance
It’s not just about the individual facets. CAP is also an approach and key to this is the notion of “dual awareness” which underlies the work. To describe this Jane offers the following mantra: “I have a body and I know I have a body”. So whilst I am moving I am also witnessing myself moving, whilst I am sensing, I am also witnessing myself sensing, whilst I am writing I am also witnessing myself writing and whilst I am speaking I am also witness to my speaking. The aim of this dual awareness is to bring attention not just to the outcome of (or reality of?) our doing, but to the ways in which we carry out those “doings”. How do we move? How do we sense? How do we write? How do we choose? How do we talk? This is achieved through a constant internal and external tracking. This notion of internal witnessing comes from Authentic Movement, and also has strong phenomenological underpinnings.
Another fundamental aspect of CAP is bringing awareness to our ways of speaking when we are immersed in a somatic practice. The CAP approach employs a way of articulating that comes from the body/movement / sensation rather than talking about the body/ movement/ sensation. This notion hints at discussions around Practice-as-Research (PaR). Fighting to maintain the primacy of the practice, artist researchers are seeking ways of writing that places writing/ articulating as another modality within their practice, rather than simply as a means of documentation. However the discipline of writing or speaking from the body rather than about the body has clear benefits beyond PaR. It presents writing, mark making and drawing as a dialogic partner within the movement practice. This writing might be vague and oblique at the start of the process and move towards a more concrete and deliberate form in Outwarding. As artists we often encounter a need to language our work, whether that’s to complete a funding application, or to explain our work to that distant relative (who we don’t think will understand anyway). It felt good to be challenged to speak differently.
Spin until dizzy, mark the page
As we cycled through the ground form I noticed my desire to get to the page or get off the page. “There’s a discipline in delaying” they said.
Look around, record the room
On the second Saturday evening a participant spoke about their desire to have a “lucky dip” of prompts that would encourage her to write or mark make in different ways, disrupting the natural propensities that pull us towards habitual ways of doing.
The notion of disruption might be a third underlying principle in this work, since the form ultimately generates shifts and tracks them in order to generate meta shifts.
A thought was aired by Jane (I think): When is a disruption a positive encouragement to shift and when does it get in the way?
We were given a task in Anatomizing where we offered something from our process to two other participants, without explaining it. The other two participants reflected on the offering and then gave back a response in the form of either movement, writing or mark making, again without explanation. This resulted in a shift for me that absolutely could not have been possible on my own. One participant referred to the exercise as a “somatic wash”.Sit still for 10 minutes, collect your dance
When I left Dance4 I think I nearly ran for a train. I just wanted to get home. Quickly. But I wish I had lingered. It felt as though I had found some real grounding in the practice and I wish I’d savoured that space for a little longer. This morning, filled with resolve, I picked up the collection of “resources” that I had spent years gathering and had since stuffed into the depths of mess that is my desk drawer. I went into a studio and I practiced the ground form… alone. I noted with amusement:
If you have the mindfulness app on your phone, the green one, (not the blue one) you can set it for an hour’s unguided meditation and it will ping every 5 minutes. The perfect companion to the Ground Form.
Breathe out slowly, write the movement
*Quotations are taken from “Skript” by Jane Bacon and Vida Midgelow
More about CAP can be found at https://www.choreographiclab.co.uk/creative-articulations-process-cap/