Graphic Recording a dance practice?

I’m super excited to be graphic recording a dance practice with Emma Wilson. The way Emma dances is different to anything I’ve seen before – it’s an unpretentious way of exploring self and place that warmly opens a space for awareness. Emma and I met at a performing arts forum Moreton Bay Regional Council held last year. As I graphic recorded Emma’s presentation, we both had a shiver of possibility that sparked a creative collaboration.

Image shows a section of the graphic recording at the Moreton Bay Region Performing Arts Forum. It includes notes and images from various presentations.
A detail from my graphic recording at the MBRC Performing Arts Forum in 2021

A different way of Graphic Recording

I’m sparked by the way our collaboration prompts a playful adaptation of my graphic recording process, merging it with my love of life drawing. I’m using art materials such as pastels on butchers’ paper, smudging the images back and layering them as I would in life drawing. Graphic recording the dance practice gives me a chance to tune in and out and include myself in the content. As Emma explores the space and playfully rolls up the stairs and bounces down them while thinking out loud, I draw her and and her dialogue with the space. While recording her, I am also noticing and recording my own thoughts and responses. It’s a wonderfully interactive process – a conversation across different media and ways of understanding and being in the world.

Image shows a section of the graphic recording of Emma's dance and our thoughts as she performed in a rehearsal. It shows loosely drawn figures, and phrases on layers of butchers paper
A detail from our first experiment, working at Caboolture Hub’s Vault space.

A different way of dancing

What I also love about Emma’s embodied dance practice is that it makes a playful inward focus – a tuning into self and body – the centre of the dance. This is r/evolutionary for dance with most mainstream dance practices ‘grooming’ us from when we are children to be a ‘sight’ – an appealing and entertaining spectacle, subject to narrow definitions of beauty and success.

The magic of a safe and welcoming space

We’ve met a couple of times at the space to ‘practise’ and find a structure to hold the improvisation. Each time we’ve practised, a passerby has joined us, watching, commenting, and most recently, participating alongside me as I worked. A woman was so curious she began peeling back the layers of paper to see what was underneath and asking questions as I worked: What does this say? What does that mean?

Later we found she had written messages for us. She smiled and thanked me when she discovered I’d drawn her reading the charts. I had a sense we had gently validated her and given her a safe space to just be herself.

Body Dreaming and workshop promotion video made by Emma Wilson

What, when and where

We’re performing at Caboolture Hub on Saturday 28 May and offering a workshop and performance on Monday 30 May 2022 as part of the Anywhere Festival. The Hub is at 4 Hasking St, Caboolture – home to the library and the Caboolture Regional Art Gallery. Come to our workshop! It will be spark energy and ideas.

Find out more about our events on the Anywhere Festival program.

And thank you Emma for your wonderful grant writing skills, and to Arts Queensland and Moreton Bay Regional Council for funding this project!

Body Dreaming is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Moreton Bay Regional Council RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund). The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Moreton Bay Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.