A conversation with Karen Nelson and Charlie Morrissey

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On 15th April 2013, C-DaRE and Decoda hosted ‘A Conversation with Karen Nelson and Charlie Morrissey’

The conversation was the closing event of Karen Nelson’ 5 day workshop with Decoda. The workshop was open to professional dancers in Coventry and facilitated work based on Lisa Nelson’s tuning scores.

‘The Tuning Score’ follows a research performance format and asks ‘what do we see when we are looking at dance?’ Offering a communication and feedback system to an ensemble of players who act equally as directors, performers and spectators.

The first part of the session allowed the audience to witness the tuning score in action, seeing how the players take on the different roles. Sometimes there is a designated ‘tuner’ who will utter calls to develop the image, alternatively without a designated tuner allowing all players to call and tune the image as they choose.

Some of the calls used include;

  • End
  • Pause
  • Sustain
  • Reverse
  • Re-situate
  • Close
  • Open

During the conversation we saw  5 minutes sessions, however a single run can last several hours and often uses just a few calls.

Once the audience had been given the opportunity to witness ‘The Tuning Score’, the group was opened up for questions and discussion. One member of the audience commented that he could transport the image out of the studio into another environment -for example a kitchen, witnessing narrative and characterisation throughout.

Karen Nelson and Charlie Morrissey were asked,  ”as the tuning score is about tuning attention, to what extent in the moment are you aware of the history or lineage that you bring with you?”

This caused a discussion to develop regarding the origin of Lisa Nelson’s work with tuning – some of the audience could place the format in 1970′s America, with a very different political and economical environment. Encouraging the group to explore how your surroundings, although they may be buried within a person can affect a performance.

Karen Nelson explained that Lisa Nelson’s work is plural and scores are constantly evolving and are changed by the players involved. Each player bringing their own history with them.

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Nicola Vaughan