tab is a cat

Sound Exercise 1

Speech forms.

Speech forms is an evolving mixed media installation and series of dance performances utilizing sound, gesture, and drawing. I am interested in thinking about the stage as a site for collaboration and learning as opposed to spectacle. Using the studio as a site for such happenings, I covered the space in vinyl dance flooring and drew a phoneme-inspired map on which the dancers rehearsed. The drawing contains two circles, each of which has forty four equidistant, color coded points around the circumference. Each point represents one of the forty four phonetic sounds in American English as recognized by the IPA. The circles’ interiors are filled with sand, a common material used in early childhood classrooms to facilitate multisensory learning and memory.

Using spoken texts from Kindergarten readers as a score, the dancers improvise between the corresponding series of speech-points to create these sentences. As bodies move within the liminal space between fixed points, they create distinct, often rhythmic sounds and visible marks. Over the course of any given exercise, the sand drawings change as traces accumulate over time.

Responding to a diverse series of prompts and spoken scores, the dancers teach one another new phrases as they move through an intuitive process of mirroring and repetition. Power structures remain fluid and are often reshuffled and reversed. Teacher and learner repeatedly switch roles; sound dictates movement and movement dictates sound.