A Question of Movement, 2011

A Ques­tion of Move­ment, 2011

By Mar­cus Coates and Henry Montes
HD Video, 34:23 mins
Filmed in Lon­don, UK
Cam­era by Deborah May and Abi Oseni
Sound by John Avery
Edit by Deborah May
Stills pho­to­graphy by Nick David
Com­mis­sioned by Siobhan Dav­ies Dance
Par­ti­cipants: Joseph Brad­ley, Armajit Koch­har, John McIntyre, Har­vey Rendell, Zoe Shar­man, Rose Wheatland.

Henry Montes and Mar­cus Coates have exper­i­mented with the role of phys­ic­al move­ment in approach­ing and under­stand­ing ques­tions. Film­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic in their homes and places of work, Montes invites them to ask a ques­tion which Coates uses as a cata­lyst to spon­tan­eously approach through move­ment. Montes medi­ates between the par­ti­cipants’ ques­tions and Coates’ sub­sequent move­ment so the par­ti­cipant can dir­ect and cho­reo­graph Coates to get what they need from his move­ment. This rela­tion­ship explores the poten­tial func­tion­al­ity of con­tem­por­ary dance/​movement and its potency as a prac­tic­al language.


[Mar­cus Coates and Henry Montes in Armajit’s kitchen.]

Armajit Koch­har: Why does this world and everything in this world and every­body in this world go round and round without stopping?

[MC per­forms movement.]

Henry Montes: How was that?

AK: They were ener­get­ic move­ments and he searched for it.

HM: Do you think he found something?

AK: No, he hasn’t found it yet. Maybe he doesn’t need to be so ener­get­ic, maybe small move­ments, maybe the answer is closer to here [holds hands up to her body] not over there [ges­tur­ing away from her], maybe he needs to look closer, inside. It might be there.

HM: So the move­ment could be closer to the body.

AK: Inside maybe. He was search­ing out­ward, wasn’t he, he was going down, up there, out there, maybe he needs to look inwardly.

[MC per­forms movement.]

AK: It was great, I think it’s closer to an answer I might have per­ceived myself. Because when the dance fin­ishes, you get near to a still­ness, the answer is in this still­ness. Because dance nev­er fin­ishes, because the earth is going around the sun, the moon is going round the earth, everything is always going round and round, the night comes, the dawn comes. So this dance nev­er fin­ishes and then he tried to be still and when he was still his hands were mov­ing, he could not be still, so I think we don’t know the reas­on because we can­not be still, still­ness can­not be found anywhere.


[In Joseph’s bedroom.]

JOSEPH BRAD­LEY: Why do you think it’s so easy to become dis­trac­ted from import­ant things like work or revi­sion – by things that are des­per­ately unim­port­ant and actu­ally even more bor­ing than the work itself?

[MC per­forms movement.]

HM: How was that?

JB: I under­stand some of it, there seems to be some joy in the not doing any­thing at all and a sat­is­fac­tion in bore­dom when you are lying on the floor there. Things to do with pre­par­a­tion and get­ting ready but still lying on the floor.

HM: Could any of those move­ments go deep­er into your question?

JB: It doesn’t help me under­stand why I’m doing it, it all seems a bit too tense and worked up, when that’s not what the prob­lem is. If I was a bit more tense and worked up I’d prob­ably do a bit more work.

HM: OK. Can we go with that?

[MC per­forms movement.]

HM: How did you find that in terms of your question?

JB: What I par­tic­u­larly liked was the hum­ming along – that seemed to demon­strate a lot of what my mind sounds like, quite a lot of the time. It makes me see how eas­ily dis­trac­ted I am and how dis­trac­tion is always prefer­able to things I’m forced into doing, but I still don’t see why I’m doing it. I more see a demon­stra­tion of what I’m doing.

HM: In terms of the rep­er­toire of his move­ments, is any one of those reflect­ive of the question?

JB: The closest we’ve come is the begin­ning of the last one – the slight move­ment and the hum­ming, I can see myself in that.

HM: OK, so maybe we can elab­or­ate on that and see what that might bring?

[MC per­forms movement.]

HM: How was that?

JB: I think I got quite a lot from that actu­ally. I recog­nise a lim­in­al state between work­ing, think­ing and doing, and doing noth­ing, which I can reflect and see myself in. I can see why, when you are try­ing to avoid that state between two mind­sets, by think­ing about that when I’m try­ing to work, I might be able to focus my mind a little bit bet­ter on it, find­ing more of a divide between pleas­ure and play, and things I have to do. What I see there, I can draw a sep­ar­a­tion in my mind and more con­cen­trate on one thing rather than being half way between the two.


[In Zoe’s office.]

Zoe Shar­man: I’m at a cross­roads and how do I proceed?

[MC per­forms movement.]

ZS: That’s amazing.

HM: Does that move­ment cor­res­pond to your question? 

ZS: That’s amaz­ing, that’s exactly how I feel: a sense of anguish, toss­ing and turn­ing, men­tal anguish, body move­ment anguish – what’s the right path? It’s abso­lutely encap­su­lated it, I’m amazed. I couldn’t add any­thing to that, that’s exactly it – the feel­ing of rest­less­ness of my mind, you’ve con­veyed that by your eye move­ments, your body move­ments, work­ing through a tor­ment, not sure of the right way. I got an incred­ible sense of reflec­tion and the anguish that I feel. Incred­ible, that’s the sort of move­ments that I make when I’m anguished.

HM: If we took one of those move­ments, how would you like to see it in terms of speed or qual­ity of move­ment to more reflect the question?

ZS: I think, more jerky, to more con­vey the ten­sion, the stress and the anxi­ety, just a bit more jerky and a bit more from the elbow out, I think that would be one way of mov­ing to show that emo­tion, definitely.

[MC per­forms movement.]

HM: How was that?

ZS: That was it, that rest­less, jerky, fren­et­ic, frantic… Yes, that’s exactly it, that’s really well inter­preted. The quick­en­ing of the pace has con­veyed the emo­tion, the depth of it. I can see tur­moil in that.

HM: Do you have more clar­ity about your question?

ZS: Yes, I do, because the way Mar­cus has moved, he echoed a lot of my own thrash­ing around par­tic­u­larly when I’m try­ing to sleep. It’s shown me that this is a move­ment that people do make when they are in anguish, there­fore I feel more com­for­ted. It’s also giv­en me a clear vis­ion of what that must do to the body, what anguish and anxi­ety must do, how it feels like a bub­bling stream. It’s really well conveyed.

(Tran­script excerpt)

What is my sig­ni­fic­ance in the universe?

How can a man of my age grow old grace­fully, today?

How do I man­age my time to fill the days at my age?

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