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  • Writer's pictureRowan Jacqueline

The Fine Art of Connectivity

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive,

and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Anais Nin.


Connection between body and earth is the foundation and central focus of all Spiderflower’s work.

Spiderflower’s dance movement theatre form is virtually a science of this.

It is a fine art.

There is a magic in connectivity. We have around us all we need to support, sustain, inspire and teach us for the entire duration of our lives. Very simply, in the natural world. Spiderflower’s main focus is on how we bridge and connect to natural, life giving sources and forces. Such as the wind, the water, the sea, the air, the earth. In that connectivity we discover, practice and quite literally flower into the very many relationships that are present.

There is enormous sustenance and range in this.

We do not end where our skin stops. When we move beyond our physical limitations as human beings we enter a pool of new relationship; each relationship holds a world of possibility. For each world we enter, there is a different dance, a different texture, a different rhythm, a different landscape, a different teaching, a different choreography. It is upon this edge Spiderflower works.

There are two ways connectivity can serve us. First; on a practical level it strengthens us. It quite literally – brings into the fibre of the physical body - good medicine, good energy. Like plugging into life. As so many dancers remark, after a dance is complete the effects will stay with them and changes they experience both internally and externally in their technique as a result remain solid. When we come back to dance again, we simply build on that foundation.

Time and again.

Second; we need to talk intelligence. The body, as the earth hold vast intelligence. Here we are talking about a complex, phenomenal living library which in all reality is so progressed - we as human beings will be hard pushed to ever be able to comprehend its fullness. Listen we must, for when we do we tap into a shared and ancient language that is both innate - yet insanely sophisticated.

This is. Us.

This is. What we, as humans, are made of and rooted in.

The entire art for Spiderflower is about connectivity as it is upon this edge things happen.

The actual bridge between body and natural world is created through paying attention to fine detail. This means working with a high degree of attention and being specific, yet we also maintain the dynamism and spontaneity that is at core as precision will release energy rather than restrict it. When we work to build bridges in a careful and specific way, this process can only expand a dancer or actor's expressive repertoire.

Once a dancer gets a handle on connection, the body will begin to remember this vocabulary on a cellular level – becoming more and more fluent over time it develops the ability to strike up conversation and will move into a sustained dialogue. I think it is safe to say it experiences relief - as it discovers it doesn't have to hold it together on its own nor is it as isolated as it once thought. Support is there, pressure is off, this sparks a communion.

This is the dance. Between body and earth.

The dancer/actor becomes translator and conduit.

This is Spiderflower in motion.

The actual language I am speaking about needs another article. So for now, we are going to stay with how connectivity works in general terms and how it is applied in Spiderflower.

Although it might sound complex, the art of connection is massively simple and very, very natural because the body is getting a chance to do what it already knows to do inherently. In a lot of cases - has been longing to do.

Body and earth need to converse without us interfering. As dancers and artists, we must get out of the way. This is one of the greatest disciplines to learn as one of the most challenging aspects of Spiderflower's work is it will take an individual into new territory and it is entirely natural for all the control mechanisms we have to freak right out, or try to analyse the f**k out of every single thing. Not allowed. The dancer has to learn to move and connect and stay entirely present inside both movement and connection in unison - only. Nothing else. Later, and only later – can the head catch up and filter through what it needs to understand from that exchange, if anything at all. Sometimes it takes quite a while. However it happens, the body knows this language and will reach a point where it can translate naturally with precision, ease and clarity.

Nature mirrors our nature. So it is through navigating these new, yet oh so familiar worlds (the ones that are about us each and every day), we embark on a voyage of incredible discovery. As the dancer becomes more adept, a myriad of specific choreographies are waiting. It could be the stars. The wind. The water. The moon. Where we find connection, the resonant voice of the very many layers within the self are tempted into expression. Each connection a new world beginning.

Spiderflower brings metamorphosis. Not just to the dancer, but to those who are witness. When we go inside the dance we also move into service as we make the unseen and subtle worlds of every day things – visible. It is about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and making this transparent. As dancers or actors we bring to life that which others might not ordinarily see - and this can have a profound impact on those witness to this.

A natural progression into performance follows on, and takes a specialist slant specifically for the actor. It is an actors job to not only shape shift, but to also act as a conduit. They need to be supple and fluid in terms of their expressive repertoire. Well grounded and very much in the body. Connectivity is vital - in the sense of how an actors internal landscape is working (between body / voice / emotion / intellect / energy), but also how they are working with their audience and fellow performers. Working with connectivity as a fine art can see actors find a new dimension within their craft and has potential to introduce a whole new strategy to play with in many different ways. It is where we see the Vulnerable Magician at work in the clearest sense.

There are many angles to work from within Spiderflower. Which ever one we may take, we find we begin to live a more inspired life. When we listen and live in co-creation with all that is alive our relationship with the world at large shifts. So does our perspective, and indeed how we might walk (or dance) amongst it all.

Connection is a fine art.

Photography: Mud Bird - Portfolio for Earth. Gemma Burleigh © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

All text appearing on this site for Spiderflower: Contemporary Earth Dance Theatre are copyright of the author and artist Rowan Jacqueline, unless otherwise stated. © 2018. All rights reserved.

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