Experiential metaphors database (2021)
R.E.A.Ch. 1. is the first step in abstracting a vocabulary of embodied cognitive processes in dance and interdisciplinary improvisation. The improvisation system tests a different way for scoring somatic dance improvisations: it integrates the descriptive narrated reflections, that traditionally close the somatic practice, into the live-generated score using pre-recorded and live-recorded experiential metaphors.
I engage during 2021 in a participatory observation of a BMC practice, taught on a weekly basis by Eva Maes at the Royal Conservatoire Dance in Antwerp (Be.). To collect my data for the software, I observe the first group from the side of the studio and notate how embodied processes are communicated by the teacher and the students. With the second group, I join in the practice, knowing that I will later describe my experiences in writing. Through this participatory reporting practice, I examine the role of verbal poetical expressions and experiential metaphors as a pervasive lingual tool for communicating embodied experiences. My theoretical ground for this experiment is Metaphors we live by (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). ‘Experiential metaphors’ is also a recurring theme in my literature studies, where I delved into the fundamental role of figurative language in the embodied understanding of dancers (Carmona, 2018; Pakes, 2006; Davis, 2013; Gibbs, 2006: 190-1). Think of dance instructions such as ‘following the lines of the ribs’, ‘breath into the floor’ or ‘lose gravity’, all examples taken from my participatory observations. These are not merely linguistic devices to communicate the task but create a mental mapping that helps the performer/s to understand the vague and tacit knowledge of experiences in dance.
To create R.E.A.Ch. 1., I organize the experiential metaphors from the classes in composition trees. There are three trees that represent the structure of the Nervous Systems practice: exteroception, interoreception, and proprioception. This organization of the experiential metaphors database is developed in collaboration with graphic designer Justine Debaene and will be integrated in the software system that is later used in R.E.A.Ch. 1. and R.E.A.Ch. 11.
R.E.A.Ch.1. is the first interactive software of this research. In the experimental practice Nervous Systems. R.E.A.Ch. 1., the performer wears a contact microphone that records the verbal reflections made during the improvisation. The performer is free to do this in English or in his/her/they native language. These recorded sound files will be accumulated with the results of the experiential metaphors database and provide an alternative score vocabulary that is feedback to the dancer during the improvisation.
Body-Mind Centering tutor Eva Maes and and the students of the RCA dance dep. BA 1 - 2, and the participants in laboratory workshops.