Emily’s thoughts on day two:
As we reach the half way stage in the choreography workshop it is already clear that there is a huge amount to think about in terms of engaging with this art form (i.e. dance/choreography) in the context of the art museum. The positive approach of the participants in the project in the first two days (shown by a willingness to try all the tasks that Sara sets, good humour, mutual support, desire to experiment, active questioning and focus amongst other things) suggests that the gallery has become a safe space for learning and Pat and I have been having conversations about why that might be.
One thought we have is that the gallery is not a ‘conventional’ or formal learning space – it is not a school, an art college or a dance studio. We wonder if, because of this, the context is relatively open. We do not enter this space with particular expectations of what or how we will learn, particularly as our focus is on choreography and dance, rather than on visual art practice specifically. Also, the room we have been working in is the Clore Learning Studio at Tate Modern. This space is situated just off the Turbine Hall on the ground floor of the gallery and is therefore some distance from the Collection displays and temporary exhibitions. Until now we have not connected directly with the art on show (although we will do later in the week), so although the art is surrounding us, it is not with us in the room.
On the first day Sara asked participants about whether they had visited Tate before and one person responded that they came to Tate as they found it a great place to stop and think; that it was a ‘still’ place in her otherwise busy life that was constantly moving. This suggests to me that the gallery can be a place that allows for pausing and thinking and that it can prompt different ways of seeing things. I see a connection between this and what Sara has been saying in the course about how dancers including Yvonne Rainer (and herself) have been drawn to museums as a place to develop and present work, in part because these institutions afford a different perspective on the practice. It is interesting to see how and whether this is happening here in the workshops – that we have a space where new ideas can be generated because it is not the conventional ‘home’ of the art form.