Can't wait till September to start interviewing the members of Alsen Day Centre to find our their stories and decide who I'm going to work with! I'm really inspired by Lloyd the centre manager, who has already shown me pictures, videos and a book of stories of the members in their local area.
As I sit in the same corner as last week I am intrigued about another aspect of the day centre and this time is the background noise. I hear laughter, talking, greek words, Madonna's music, I observe a hand kiss. Next week more drawings and observations.
Coming towards the end of the day has been pretty insightful. I have had the opportunity to observe the space without people in. I made a note on where each group belonging to various nationalities sat and was wandering why they had choose those specific spaces? Drawing more...
Two days of observing and chatting. Thursday I met Mary, who just turned 88, and when I asked what keeps her going she replied "curiosity".
Friday I joined in with the creative movement group, It was great fun singing old songs and creating movement with the words, it gave me an insight on what moved them!
I took part in a committee meeting and the topic of discussion was: "what would the centre members wanted to do in the near future in terms of activities?" Most ideas fitted with what I had observed and thought I would like to explore with them. One idea is to make paper flowers and paper sculptures and think about the movement that can be created from those.
I have taken pictures of each participant's hands, each pair of hands tells a story. What story do you see?
The group and I started working on creating movement material. The starting point was from the research on feathers and their symbolism: "Truth, lightness, speed, flight, ascension, charity, hope and faith." I asked each person in the group to pick one of these nouns and I asked them to show me how would a movement describe that noun? As we went along each individual created movement which developed into a first phrase.
The turning point!
I have been taking part in a site specific course and it really opened my eyes on how I could work within the day centre involving the community. I can see how the final outcome could take shape!
I have invited one of the elders I work with, Chris, in another setting to come and join today's workshop. We had great fun with feathers, a feathered hat and The Fantom of the Opera!
Still getting a lot out of the site specific course and a chat I have had with Anna and Tilly on Tuesday. I also would like to thank Anna Calvin for her generosity in sharing ideas on movement development! Thank you all.
This week I have seen how people and situations connect through using a process. After all these weeks of rehearsals the participants are starting to connect! Connect to the work, connect with one another, connect with me. This is very special, this shows how art and creativity bring about change in people's life. I must say the best part of today's workshop was when everyone started singing really loud to the Phantom of the Opera, priceless!
Being at the Alsen Day Centre has been a great experience. I feel really welcome here almost like being part of the family. Each week I get invited to lunch and here is where the best conversations happen.
Here are some excerpts:
'I enjoy movement, want to make movement, movement is important so all the body moves together.' (Mary Jane)
'Thank you for entertaining us!' (Mary Jane)
'It wakes you up and makes you feel alive... I don't want to sit and do nothing, it numbs you.' (Florence)
'Doing this activity all together is more enjoyable.' (Ruby)
'I like all the movement we do.' (Lil)
Now and Then - The performance day.
Thursday 12th of December was a very special day for me. Not only it was my birthday but it has been one of the most spacial birthdays I have ever had. I was able to spend it with some remarkable people. The morning of the performance started with few glitches, video was not working, table papers did not fit, the cakes where late and the music technician was trying his best to find the best place for the sound system, but everyone kept very calm and as amazing teams do they pull together towards the success of the event and made the performance go smoothly.
Two o'clock came and many elders, part of the day centre, were already present, as well as family and friends. Ten past two a group of 20 two to three years old from the local nursery came and joined us to watch the performance. This event made a great difference to how the performance would finish!
I had already planned the running of the all piece many times and as the finale was approaching I had a sudden idea where I wanted to involve the children in the performance somehow. So when the time came to start the piece with the feathers I handed feathers to adults and children alike waiting to see what dynamics to the piece that would bring. The results were unexpected!
As I was watching the piece evolving in front of my eyes I could not help but noticing a change in the audience. People were moved by the interaction between the children and the elders something that was so spontaneous but so touching. All of this was unravelling in a background of joy and laughter, dancing and feathers. A perfect end to an amazing project!
Thank you Lloyd, Ann and the Alsen Day Centre for the most moving project I have ever been involved in.
Performers: Mary Kozlowski, Leonora Wilson, Rodney Curran, Mary-Jane Appadoo, Florence Campbell, Christina Meade, Rubi
Alsen day centre's Managers Lloyd Coombes and Anna Loizou and all the members of staff
Video editor: Laura Brankin
Music engineer: Liam Morgan