Muscle memory

IN RESEARCH 2019 – 2024

2019 / 2020

Cecile Lassonde (FR) and I began collaborating on this project during a residency at Heima in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland. We began playfully and intuitively developing this work based on simple explorations of the body in space, one’s visual integration and proprioceptive awareness in movement, in stillness, in relation to a moving orbital object and each other. 


Two years later, we are continuing our research in Paris, at La Fabrique de la Danse. During a week intensive residency we have focussed on creating a participatory workshop as well as a 10 min performance for Impulsion festival which took place at the Institut Suédois in Paris on the 2 & 3 July.

Work in Process presented at the Festival Impulsion! at the Swedish Institut in Paris, organised by La Fabrique de la Danse.

The performance aspect of the project is not about the performance as a spectacle or circus act in the traditional sense. The work has a deeper conceptual undertone as our aim is to fundamentally give the participants, audience and ourselves an experiential opportunity to self reflect and to open new neural pathways, giving our personal & collective anxieties a place to exist and play within a safe and contained setting. We are actively showing and sharing our vulnerability rather than trying to hide it. The fight or flight response is evident in both if us at moments.

This project illustrates how intertwined and interconnected we are as a global community. Layers of body language, non verbal communication and new ways of expressing, respecting and reflecting on personal and community space. We unpack the psychological trajectories of social distancing, visible and invisible dangers, fear, anxiety, the need to move forward, step back, to find human connection, to play by the rules, to protect oneself and the other.

This becomes a kind of social experiment that requires being together in the same time and same space, to explore new ways of communicating, sharing and learning. We aim to rebuild qualities of confidence, trust and re-connection by utilizing our respective practices of contemporary dance, theater making, poi juggling/ bolas, performance art, the Alexander Technique and conscious release technique.

This research intimately connects us to the notions of time & space, the precision & intent behind our gestures and the integration of respecting and influencing boundaries. On a personal level I began revisiting a hobby of poi juggling, which I dedicated my time and energy to when I was a teenager. There has been roughly an 18 year gap since I have picked up these toys and to my amazement there is a deep programming of muscle memory, somewhat linked to the analogy of riding a bike. The body is a highly illegent mechanism, not only does it store positive neuromuscular patterns, it also holds and stores trauma and if we don’t find creative ways to release and heal these unconscious parts of ourselves?

We have been using specific games as a way to start unpacking the traumas. The ‘mechanical loops’ represent the thought patterns that keep us stuck in inertia, stagnant fears and emotions linked to dealing with pain and trauma. Are these incessant & repetitive loops and steps in the forefront of our awareness or are they still lurking in the back of the subconscious mind and body? How do our old patterns and movements reflect our ability to constantly adapt to new and unfamiliar stimuli? How do we cope and deal with the stress of the unknown and can we accept that there are other forces at play that we cannot control. The poi movements are based on principles of physics in relation to motion, speed, trajectory and gravity. We use these forces to illustrate the implications of  how trust, timing and space can reveal a sense of acceptance of a situation that was once out of our control. How do we find new ways to move towards, between, away, closer to each other and ourselves? 


During the month of September we are in residency with Cent Quatre Paris, Cresco Saint Mandé and La Fabrique de la Danse to continue our research. We have brought in a international team together for this month to expand, explore and experiment with vocalist & musician, Lenny-Dee Nielson and dancers Anna Mikula and Élise Moreau.

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