The second section of Artificial Things is where everything gets a bit manic – the storm before the calm as it were. In this section there is a phrase created by Laura, which has been made into a unison section – otherwise known as the chicken phrase.
How was it made?
When learning a phrase often the movement is made on a non-disabled body, meaning it has to be translated or adapted for others with different abilities. For the chicken phrase this has been changed, as Lucy gave Laura the task to create movement focussing on showing strength. The whole phrase is specific to Laura and how she moves and manipulates her wheelchair.
The next stage was to involve and translate the movement onto the other dancers.
“Amy and I were asked to find our own adaptations for each of Laura’s movements. We had to pin point characteristics, textures and dynamics, to transfer and recreate on our bodies in a way that was not ‘stereotypical contemporary dance’ movement. There was no ‘easy option.’” David Willdridge
One of the characteristics that came through after pulling out specific details from Laura’s movement was the noticeable tension in her neck when she sped across the space. This is where the name of chicken phrase came from, as Laura’s neck pulled forward as she started moving. After filtering Laura’s movement onto their bodies looking at the fine details they came up with a very different style of movement, even odd looking.
“Whilst using her wheelchair, Laura’s movement direction often goes the opposite way to what is expected due to the turning circle and flow of the movement, and because of this, our movement doesn’t directly translate making it less smooth and less coordinated.” David Willdridge
The other reason for Laura’s material looking slightly awkward on the others is because the movement is physically and mentally easier to remember for Laura as it all flows in her body. Unlike for the others, where it is almost like learning a foreign language they become tired and out of breathe quicker making it not so fluent.
Another problem they had to overcome was the fact that Laura was covering more space than the others as her movement makes use of the momentum of her wheelchair, which the others don’t have the advantage of. The fact that the others were also trying to start their momentum from the same place as Laura, which isn’t natural for them, was an issue and meant they didn’t cover as much space.
The difficulties weren’t just for Amy and David in learning Laura’s phrase. Dave Toole also got taught the chicken phrase, which, although was easier as there wasn’t as much complicated adapting, it still wasn’t straightforward. This is because although Dave and Laura both have a wheelchair their body and style of movement and even wheelchair are all very unique to the individual. For instance Laura throughout this phrase makes use of her extra back wheel, which Dave does not have, meaning there are particular moves tilting backwards and forwards which do not look identical.
Everyone not looking identical throughout the phrase however, is something that Laura particularly likes about the chicken phrase. There are clear ping moments where you can see that it is a unison phrase, but the main point is that the energy from everyone is exactly the same, making the movement similar but diverse.