The Nature of Cities - 14 July 2018 - Nadia Vadori-Gauthier (Round Table) Dancing Water
Water, with its physical properties, is a primordial element of my dance and performance practice, in relation to movement, rhythm, space, […]
Water has several fundamental characteristics:
- Relationship to life: It underlies all life in matter. On the Earth, no life is possible without the presence of water.
- Relationship to movement: It is mobile and may take different forms. Its plasticity allowsit to change unceasingly. Water travels, espousing and shaping the territories it passesthrough. Its trajectories are often curved or spiral, with a certain unpredictable quality.
- Relationship to the earth: It has a weight and pours towards the earth with the force of gravity.
- Relationship to space: On the other hand, it has a quality of capillarity, ascending,
plantlike, which allows it, for instance, to rise along a strip of cotton or expand towards space in every direction, like the surface film of a waterdrop.
- Volumetric quality: Between these two antagonistic and complementary forces of gravity  and anti-gravity  there opens up a multi-directional volumetric space, with no hierarchy among its various parts. To draw a parallel with the dancing body, for instance, this quality allows a body to be lived “in 3D,” moving in multiple directions, as opposed to a vertical body seen in “2D,” with a front and back, a top and bottom. This summons an “immersive” dimension of feeling, rather than an overview, distanced or separated from consciousness. When one dances from this fluid base, consciousness accompanies movement. It precedes or derives from it, inseparable from lived experience.
- Rhythmic quality: Obedient to forces of propulsion or aspiration, it behaves dynamically, creating patterns in movement: waves, vortices, fluid rhythms. In our bodies, our liquids have different rhythms. They rebound in our membranes.
- Quality of resonance: Water is an element that captures and preserves sonic or
mechanical vibrations and arranges them in natural models (as in cymatics) .
Water, with its physical properties, is a primordial element of my dance and performance practice, in relation to movement, rhythm, space, and life itself. To begin with, our bodies, like that of the Earth, are principally composed of water. For us, proportions vary from 75 percent water for a newborn to 50 percent for an old person.
These qualities of water, allied with my experience of dance, both in the studio and in nature and the city, greatly influence my way of entering into contact with people and environments. They lead me, through sensation, to enter into a non-hierarchical and non-anthropocentric relationship with earth and space, but also into vibratory resonance with places and materials of my surroundings or with the natural elements.
For the project One Minute of Dance a Day, I created some hundred dances involving the element of water. But even when water is not visibly present in my surroundings, the body out of which my dances begin is principally liquid, moved by a fluid dynamic. By taking as the basis from which my work begins the fluid matter of the body and its cells, I realized that I enter differently into resonance with places and things. I find an alliance with what surrounds me.
This particularity is also one of the characteristics of my practice of Body-Mind Centering®. This practice was created and developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, dancer, researcher, dance teacher, and ergotherapist whose practice combines yoga and martial arts. Contrary to other practices of somatic education, this is neither a technique nor a method. Its tools are extremely precise and refined, but there is no particular protocol to follow. Unlike techniques such as Feldenkrais and Alexander, which most specifically consider the muscular-skeletal system, BMC, like Continuum Movement, is based on the experience of the body at a cellular level and a somatic training in fluid movement. Through movement and touch, the practice favors the lived experience of flux physics, that of a fluid base taking as reference the constant navigation of all things. This particularity influences my research. In effect, the body is not envisaged in the perspective of fixed form, identity, or posture; it renews itself constantly within a larger flux. It does not merely travel through space, it transforms itself, without changing place.
The body’s fluids (cytoplasm, interstitial fluid, blood, lymph, cerebrospinal fluid …) are differentiated by movement and touch. They have different expressions, rhythms, densities. The soma of BMC is a fluid body-mind with its cells. There is fluid within the cells and fluid outside them. The exchanges between intra- and extracellular fluids are the liquid respiration of the body: cellular breathing. It takes place in all the tissues: bones, organs, muscles, etc. A cell is a system in constant evolution that records innumerable molecular variations. In this context, it is the metaphoric base of a vibratory resonance common to all that lives. From this vibratory substratum, still formless, there open out new sensorial territories, spaces of resonance by which new forms may be generated.
For the past twelve years, my explorations have progressively led me to address my artistic processes through the sensation of the organism’s fluids and the cellular breathing of the tissues. This brings about a base, in constant motion, from which I enter into dialogue with the elements, places, and things. I find an alliance with materials. My body goes beyond its own organic form to adjust to its surroundings in a vibratory, almost musical fashion, forming harmonies or dissonances. These vibrations include light, space, and color.
This practice establishes modes of corporeality and interrelations that involve a primacy ofmovement and lived experience of the living body, in relation to other bodies and its surroundings. This specificity is essential to my work. It generates its own modes, at once single and collective, non-hierarchical. It brings about a focus on process rather than form, it enters into flows and rhythms rather than focusing on an object. It is, for me, a practice of individuation, of becoming, the creation or reorganization of the self. It facilitates an intersubjectivity that welcomes difference, distance, decentering. It arranges the collective horizontally, encouraging freedom of rhythm and movement in each element.
In the city, more than elsewhere, it seems important to me that we remain connected to nature and its elements, including water, the basis of life and its constant fluctuation. Cities that rivers run through, cities beside the ocean, cities refreshed by fountains or canals, have a special sweetness inviting to reverie and the imagination. The movements of the surfaces of water make the reflections of the sky and the world around them dance; they move them and give them rhythm. Thus the geometric lines of buildings and spatial perception become more sinuous or undulatory. They voyage and thought ripples along with them, opening our senses to constantly renewed possibilities for movement. This fluidity keeps us connected to the forces of life and imagination. It allows us to reinvent ourselves in connection with each other, tracing moving and inclusive lines between our differences.
Video: Dance 579 (One Minute of Dance a Day), Nadia Vadori-Gauthier / August 14th 2016, 10:05 a.m., Water Mirror, Quais de la Garonne, Bordeaux, France.
Video: Dance 558 (One Minute of Dance a Day), Nadia Vadori-Gauthier / April 15th 2016, 3:12 p.m., Duranti street, Paris 11th, France.
Even in the absence of water, every day I dance the water of cities, the water of our bodies, and their rhythms of fluid pulsation. I am sometimes accompanied by figures that influence my imagination and my dances; among them: Dionysus and Shiva. These two divinities are said to have a single origin. They are both masters of the fluid 2 element and of metamorphoses, as well as masters of time, particularly of a cyclical, tidal time. They are thus profoundly connected to wild nature and its cycles of life/death/life. In spring, water and sap rise up in stalks; nature flowers. Then does Dionysus appear, presiding over the rite of blossoming. All around, water is with us in the trunks and branches of trees, in plants, flowers, and all their vegetal manifestations. To dance water is also, for me, to dance in cellular resonance with the dynamic fluid movement underlying vegetal forms; it is to dance with humans and animals, dance in rain or rivers; dance the pulsing blood in arteries and veins.
The liquid dimension of experience allows me to be in relation to the world. This relation is vibratory and solidary. Water, in me and outside me, connects me to life and nature. Thisdimension of experience, which I explore alone and in a group, particularly with le Corps collectif (The Collective Body), contributes to what Antonin Artaud called “healing life”  by restoring its fluid poetic forces to a life that the modern world has drained of its powers.
Video: Dance 182 (One Minute of Dance a Day), Nadia Vadori-Gauthier / July 14th 2015, 11:20 p.m., Saint- Michel place, Paris 6th district, France.