7 Feb 2011

Choreography II Case Study Interview

Posted by Carole Kirk

I interviewed Fiona Bannon at the end of the Choreography II module enhancement last year, to record what she had done with the module, and to capture insights and learning.  Choreography II  is a compulsory module for the second year students on BA Dance, taught over eleven weeks.  Each student was provided with a Flip Camera and tripod to use for the duration of the module. They were encouraged to keep it with them, and to use it to capture thoughts, ideas, rehearsal material and personal observations.  A separate, private blog was set up for each student on the VLE to be used as a repository for their flip videos, as well as for written reflections, other useful data links and personal inspirations etc.

Click to dowload the full case study as a PDF.

To whet your appetite, here are some edited extracts:-

Flip cameraThe flip cameras…

Rather than it just being about the use of the technology, I really wanted to get at ‘how to make a difference to them as choreographers, showing them ways that they might enhance their practice?’  … It was  about helping them enhance their choreographic practice through simple stages, simple means, things which weren’t going to block, things which weren’t going to take an enormous amount of time, that weren’t going to be massive additional tasks… using the flip as a relatively straightforward way into a complex experience … because it’s there, it’s instant, because it’s just two buttons and you have it operating…  You almost can’t help but to capture things with it. 

 … I think that having the opportunity to  ‘look again’ becomes like having the studio there again, to have those moments, to be able to see, to be able to select, and then go back in and know your work more, I think that’s been the real value.

A number of them have said quite frequently that it’s made them choreograph all week.  It’s made them watch and think and plan. 
You are able to look at it at 2am; you’re able to watch and think and plan for next week, that massive step change of ‘I’m choreographing all week’ will mean that we can really ratchet up our expectation of what’s going on within the work 



Photo credit: khrawlings on Flickr creative commons

Thinking out loud…

One main task was to interview themselves at home, talking about the experiences of the first movement workshop session and setting out their own aims for the module.   Some of them were quite upset with that idea of seeing and hearing themselves, which I found quite unexpected… So, some of the shots have a cushion or a section of the wall, but certainly not their faces.  Others were fine, they had it on and were sitting in front of it chatting, but actually often not looking straight at it…

It was interesting when one of the students said that she would listen to things that she’d said again and again, but she never re-read her notes.  … there is something between the visual and the aural and maybe for dance students/performance students this might be a closer connection than written language.

Very few seemed to talk over the videos; they seemed to have a kind of reverence when recording the dance.  To me, it would have been the perfect opportunity to make mental memory notes about things that were happening or not happening in the studio, right there and then on the flip.

The blogs…

I was very aware that whilst it would have been wonderful to have these very complex blogs, what I really wanted was that complexity within the choreography. So once I felt that the blogs had started to have some interesting detail, and once I had noted that they had started to draw in things from the reading that they were doing, or the other companies that they were watching, I was quite happy.  I could have ended up with wonderful documentation and no choreography. 

I found at the very end of the process, going back to the blogs and reading from the beginning through to the end and watching different selections of videos, I really felt closer to what had gone on for many of them within their process. 

Their self-directed time was manageable by me because I could see whether they had done it or they hadn’t.  I found it really valuable as their tutor.

Do you have any questions for anyone who may comment?

What might you do differently?
How might you integrate it into students’ work?
What kind of tasks might be useful?
Has anybody done work which is choreography for the flip camera?
Is anybody doing work with other simple, easy technology that makes a significant difference?
Is anybody else working with flips in studio based practices, what is their experience?