Sunday, 23 December 2012

4. Depicting the decision-making process on film

Ways to represent physically the act of communing with different parts of ourselves

I started to talk in my first blog post about the potential, on film, to create sequences representing an individual’s internal struggle, in which a single character is effectively seen to be interacting with themselves.

We explored this further in our second week of workshops, documenting simultaneous ‘realities’ or versions of events alongside each other, sometimes with one dancer interacting with three other dancers who were physicalising different possibilities for how they might choose to make their decision (i.e. maybe in 2 of these possibilities the dancers made it to the edge of the cliff and jumped off, and in 1 they only got to the edge and didn’t make the final leap). On film, these 4 ‘roles’ could be played by the same dancer, who would then be seen to be communicating with other parts of him or herself on the way to the edge of the cliff or the moment of decision.

There is potential to work choreographically with the interaction of these ‘roles’. For example,
-    we could depict these simultaneous realities coming together into unison, representative of a moment of clarity/certainty (so movement phrases which have been out of sync, expressing the individual’s indecision, or the different ways in which the scenario could be played out, would suddenly come together)
-    each of the ‘realities’ could share some elements, which would make it look like they had all come from the same person’s consciousness, even if they had different outcomes
-    we could insert fragments of other movement phrases from other parts of the film within these different realities, including simpler, more pedestrian movements such as walking, running or standing

Questions going forward:
-    How many dancers do I want to work with for this project? Do I focus entirely on one individual’s experience, or is there potential to introduce different figures who could also embody different parts of the individual’s psyche? What would this contribute to the overall story-telling and the way in which an audience might understand the meaning of the film?
-    Does ambition/motivation have to be really high and continuing to get you off the cliff, or can there be an element of uncertainty and yet you still jump off? (I became acutely aware of this question when we were trying to physicalise different versions of events alongside each other, because in one version we were left with the image of someone jumping off a cliff while part of them was left behind. In flow, would all versions of the individual/parts of the psyche jump at the same time?) What is it that overwhelms this uncertainty, or enables us to overlook it? Is it the attractiveness of the task that we set out to achieve, and therefore our determination to do it? As Britton (2010) asks, what is our rationale for doing things that threaten our “immediate sense of ‘safety, belongingness, love, respect and self-esteem’”? If we want to do something enough, can our determination enables us to override all sense of safety or reason? What could get us to the point where we might be able to temporarily suspend our belief in gravity so that we don’t even acknowledge the possibility of failure of our attempt to fly off the edge of the cliff? Csikszentmihalyi suggests that one of the conditions of flow is that there is no worry of failure. But even if we are not acknowledging it within the flow moment, perhaps it is still there. Maybe this tells us something about the nature of bravery, in which we might temporarily endanger ourselves in order to achieve something greater than ourselves. Seligman proposes that 'authentic happiness' is a combination of a 'pleasurable' life, an 'engaged' life, and a 'meaningful' life, where a 'meaningful' life involves commitment to something that is higher than the self (Hefferon and Boniwell, 2011, p.4). So perhaps (depending on the motivation for it) bravery, the desire to achieve something great, could provide us with sufficient commitment to a seemingly impossible task to override our fear of failure. I need to find out more about this.

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