A salon with Struan Leslie

Salon Struan Leslie

On 28th February 2013, C-DaRE hosted a Salon with Struan Leslie – Head of Movement at The Royal Shakespeare Company. The Institute of Creative Enterprise opened it’s doors and invited dancers to take part in a workshop and discussion around Leslie’s practice which identifies and harnesses the energetic reading and embodiment of space, text and impulse.

Twelve participants, including Coventry School of Art and Design Associate Dean, Professor, Visiting Professor, Senior Lecturers, PhD students and undergraduate students took part in the 2 hour workshop. Throughout the evening the group explored how movement can be affected by breathing, thinking/recalling and impulse.

Whilst exploring how movement is affected by breathing the group carried out a number of activities including; moving on the exhale,  moving on the inhale and moving on the impulse to inhale and exhale.

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Here you can see the group getting ‘hands on’, holding a partner’s stomach and back, allowing them to feel a breath as it enters the body and moves down to the stomach and then feeling the breath leave, seeing how this can be manipulated by applying pressure to the stomach.

Leslie lead the group to walk on the impulse as the breath leaves the body and vocalise their name as a stimulus to move; causing a discussion about how thinking or recalling a memory shifts your body weight to your heels and causes a pause before movement.

During the session, participants also explored how movement changes when you are aware you are being watched. Visualising that they were creating a beaded necklace, first in solitude then aware they were being observed, showing how a person changes the way they make decisions. “When being watched your decisions and emotions become legible to the audience.”

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To end the session the group looked at extreme emotions and how they can change your movement. When asked to recall a time when they have experienced disgust, the group rebuilt the environment in their head layer by layer; the location, the time of day, is it dark is it light etc. When observing each other it was noted that you can see the event and how the performer is physiologically changed by it, one participant expressed “you can begin without disgust but you can’t continue without it”. When you release or relax into a situation you can see how it changes you; allowing you to prevent censorship of the emotion or impulse.

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Nicola Vaughan