Trauma, Transference, and Timing in the Creative Process (2019)
My research in the creative process of ensemble based devising draws upon multiple disciplines to cultivate an ideal environment to create interdisciplinary performances that acts as artistic vehicles for social change. These disciplines include educational psychology, trauma
informed approaches, grounding techniques, somatic practices, contemplative pedagogy, empathy based writing, and artistic practices in the visual and performing arts.
My practice-led research has focused on the impact of an original, interdisciplinary performance about sexual violence, titled It’s Not That Simple (2019, 2018, 2016, 2011, 2008). The pilot study investigated the correlation between the performer’s experience and the audiences experience using a mixed method approach. The follow-up study focused solely on the performers’ experience throughout the rehearsal and performance process. Qualitative data was collected through field notes, journal entries, and personal interviews. The culmination of my practice-led research has led me to the development of a Trauma Informed Creative Practices and Empathy Based Devising methodologies based on over ten years of experience guiding artists through a structure to create interdisciplinary performances about difficult topics. The method is rooted in dance, choreographic, creative practices, and somatic approaches to ensure a holistic preparation for performers.
Over the past decade as a dance artist, I have moved away from traditional dancer/choreographer roles. As a choreographer, I have veered away from setting work on others. As a dancer, I actively avoid having work set on me. Artistically, I’m more interested in the various interpretations of the same movement. Humanistically, I am concerned about imposing my own body traumas and phobias on others or having them forced upon me. This determines how I engage with others during the development of new work. I seek to uncover the ideal timing for the ensemble based devising process especially for ensembles interested in rapid response artmaking. Timing includes the duration of the rehearsal process, the structured stages within the process, and the space between the processes. I am particularly interested in the timing of the space between re-visted projects having come back to the same performance over ten years.
For the next two years, I plan to focus my practice-led research on refining and expanding the Trauma Informed Creative Practices (TICP) and Compassion Focused Devising (CFD) methodologies. I will do so through the creation of four, interdisciplinary, evening-length performances; It’s Not That Simple (addressing sexual violence and rape culture), Finger Painting [for grown-ups] (exploring busy culture and addiction relate), #attitudeofgratitude: a three year journey of snark, cynicism, and superficial B.S, (seeking to understand the impact of positive psychology during times of struggle), and Red, White, and Grey (examining the need for intersectionality in our socially and politically charged binary world). The aforementioned performances include ensemble collaboration and independent creation. I plan to compare and contrast the ensemble based and independent experiences to deepen my understanding of and allow for the application of TICP and CFD for creatives across multiple disciplines and sectors. A few of these performances have been presented previously (as full productions or works-inprogress). Each performance will consist of new creative teams and new, updated content that will inevitably lead to new experiences, new approaches, and new discoveries. They will feel like premieres with a built in following and deep history of those who created them before. This cyclical process to my practice-based research allows me to gain a greater understanding of the frameworks and fluidity to the Trauma Informed Creative Practices and Compassion Focused Devising methodologies.