WT at ASA 2016

WT went to the ASA conference on July 4-7 with a lab titled Corresponding with threads: an exploration in movement, performance, materials, and anthropology. This lab was different from previous WT events in that it was partly structured as a participatory ritual performance and a workshop.

We thought of using a mixed format to help participants to attune to the experience of walking with the golden thread which, by its very nature, is unstructured. I felt that combining structure and flow made the lab more accessible, though there is always room for fine-tuning.

Following the walk, we gave participants some time to respond to the walk through engagement with materials that we had brought along. More details as well as some pictures will be soon available on the WT blog.

Here is one of my responses, I drew the day after the lab:

Paola WT_response_1

Towards an Anthropology Otherwise

From the 5th to the 8th of May I was in Aberdeen, participating in a Sourcing Within worksession (May 5-8) conducted by theatre-maker and performer Gey Pin Ang. The worksession is integral to anthropologist Caroline Gatt’s collaborative research with Gey Pin, investigating possibilities for an anthropology with performance. Caroline’s research is titled Crafting Anthropology Otherwise and it is part of a broader project called Knowing from the Inside (KFI).

The first time I had taken part in a Sourcing Within worksession was in 2014. That experience had opened paths of inquiry which continue for me to this day. This latest session did not disappoint. The main part of the worksession focused on voice and movement training, as grounded in Gey Pin’s theatrical expertise and longstanding engagement with Tai-Qi Quan. Gey Pin’s work as a teacher and performer is top-class, imbued with both depth and immediacy.

On Saturday Paolo Maccagno and I contributed with two sessions in our respective disciplines, Feldenkrais and butoh. I was looking forward to trying Feldenkrais technique with a certified practitioner. I could not have asked for a better introduction. Paolo guided us into the logic of Feldenkrais exercises gradually and thoughtfully, each word of instruction an element in an unfolding mosaic of corporeal understanding.

It was the first time that I taught butoh to professional performers and to anthropologists who also practice performance. Thus, my teaching was also a very valuable learning experience, a unique opportunity for me to reflect on the potentialities of butoh-with-anthropology, or anthropology-with-butoh.

In this respect, Caroline’s session, Crafting Anthropology Otherwise, which took place on the Sunday, was especially inspiring. As hers is research-in-progress, I will only say that the session involved thinking-by-doing; more specifically, relating to anthropological content through the participants’ varied performative strategies and languages.

Below is a picture taken at the end of the session, during a very fruitful discussion.


Walking Threads/The Unfamiliar

Walking Threads (WT) is a project in which I have been involved since 2014. In its most basic form, it involves people moving with threads in the open. This, however, does not exhaust what WT is or can be.

To me, WT is an opportunity to engage in a framework for action that is open-ended, and to witness what emerges from that engagement, in the moment or across time. Participants can decide for themselves what to make of it; also, whether to use it or to dismiss it.

You can find more information about WT here. And, if you are curious about creative and theoretical outputs of this project, have a look at the special issue of The Unfamiliar on ‘Human and Environment/Walking Threads’, with contributions from the WT team and collaborators.

WT Logo
WT Logo. CC Paola Esposito

Crow’s Playmates

Dance company When My Grandfather Was a Fish and filmmaker Dariusz Dziala got together to shoot a video of the piece ‘Crow’s Playmates’. As we walked to the location we sensed a storm approaching so we did everything a bit in a rush (and with no warm up…). This video was intended as a present to our dear friend Flavia who is moving back to Brazil, leaving us very sad indeed.


Dance and Music: When My Grandfather Was a Fish
(Paola Esposito, Flavia Coube, Ana Barbour, Malcolm Atkins)
Film-making: Dariusz Dziala
Masks: Paola Esposito
Inspired by the poem ‘Crow’s Playmates’ by Ted Hughes

Cat on the window sill

cat window sill

The curtain had been taken down altogether and dust particles were flying around.
Due to the change of circumstances, the cat had been temporarily moved from its place on the window sill.
Upon its return, nothing seemed to have changed.
Until, as I glanced at the vacant corner where once the curtain precipitated like a waterfall, my eyes laid on a vagrant coal black piece of familiar substance.
A cu apparteni? (To whom do you belong?)
Turning back at the cat I realised it was its back paw.
Had it fallen off on its own, shot off like a satellite, in free fall like a dust particle?

I may never know, though the truth is staring at me.