Choreographic Sound is an experimental dance performance that aims to explore the sonic agencies of costume design
Choreographic Sound is a part of the Costume Agency workshop # 7 Directed by the Objects,
who aim to intersect their expertise in a sonic and performative conversation with dancers
Supervisors: Rachel Hann, Christina Lindgren
Costumes and concept: Vidmina Stasiulyte, Linnea Bågander
Dancers: Olivia Hansson, Matilda Gustafsson Drobina
Video documentation and photography: Camilla Topuntoli
With support from Skogen, Gothenburg
This exploration aims to explore the sonic agencies of costume design and the way they both inform and add a level of expression to the movement and choreography of a performance. The work is a collaboration between Vidmina Stasiulyte and Linnea Bågander who aim to intersect their expertise in a sonic and performative conversation with a dancer.
The exploration was led by the sounds of the costumes, which required to start by listening to the costumes.
This fundamental shift suggested to an audience listening to a movement rather than looking at it and for the dancers, it suggested ‘playing’ the costumes, similar to playing an instrument, and created an active and manipulating approach towards what was worn, mixed with sensing and experiencing.
As part of the listening, we removed sight to be able to only focus on the sound. In the first session, the dancers were wearing eye-masks and exploring the garments, based solely on the sounds they produce, putting aspects of kinaesthetic, visuality, and tactility lower in the hierarchy. The eye masks were also used by us, the designers, to help us establish a sonic approach.
Introducing dancers to the sonic costumes, photo credit: Vidmina Stasiulytė
The focus of the work in the costume agency workshop was trying to understand how we could use sound to create movement material, dramaturgy, and sonic composition. And over time, we realized the complexity of the task we had undertaken. Realizing that playing a sonic silhouette (Stasiulyte, 2020) is something that requires training. The two outfits explored in the workshop were composed of several sounds that required a lot of training to get a full understanding of. The first 3 sessions were focused on exploring what the costumes could do by giving them tasks such as working with different rhythms, loud and silent sonic expressions, going between actively sounding and moving just for the sake of moving, and so on. This focus on exploring what the costumes were, led to less putting into giving it meaning and putting it together as a dramaturgy. However, we can see a potential for dramaturgy, a direction, and compelling tension between something very concrete, things that they do in the way they do it to generate a sound, playing, combined with more abstract emotional relationships between them.
natural & artificial sounds
The dancers experienced the costumes as artificial skin; for them, it was something extraordinary to wear. They expressed that it took time for the costumes to be a natural part of their bodies. This was due to the reason that these costumes required manipulation and active engagement and, in that sense, had more similarities to objects that we usually don’t wear.
The sounds of the costumes had very little reference to the sounds the body normally performs, and at the beginning of the performance when the stage was blacked out, we felt a need for some kind of human presence. For this reason, we included sounds of bare hands and feet touching the floor and a section with only breathing. This contrast in natural and artificial sounds helped us to generate dramaturgy but also the sonic silhouette as we felt the need not to completely cover the performer, but in this case showing the face was not enough, we needed to make the body heard. In the future, it will be interesting to involve more body sounds to work more with the dynamic between body and artificial ‘skin’.
The overview of costumes-instruments, photo credit: Vidmina Stasiulytė
A top made from greenhouse material that makes a very light and crispy sound. This garment also includes a plastic tube that connects the hands through the shoulders. The tube contains endpoints made from different materials, one from metal and one from cardboard. Between these, a glass ball moves over the tube and hits the metal and cardboard, potentially creating an asymmetric sound.
A pair of pants are made from PVC plastic with straw fringes stitched on the outer sides of the legs. The pants have both — the sound of the PVC has a squeaking sound and the tactility of the material gives much resistance to movement. On the sides of the pants, straw fringes are stitched, which produces a fast response to movements and generates sound by hitting each other and the PVC. The sound is lighter, perhaps like the sound of light rain.
One of the dancers was barefoot to create the sounds of a natural human presence.
The outfit 1, exploring crispy, bouncing and sliding asymmetric sounds, still from video, credits: Camilla Topuntoli
A top from PVC with a squeaking sound, and that tactility gives a lot of resistance in its movement. Here we wanted to explore how the same material would sound on different parts, compared to the pants of PVC described in outfit 1, so that the dancers could generate a similar sound and that this would aid their relationship.
A pair of latex pants that were open at the front and back and only stitched until the knees so they would have a lot of movement. Because, for this material, a lot of movement in the material generates a lot of sounds.
A wooden hat with four balls — a golf ball and three wooden balls that sound and move differently when you rotate your neck and head.
The wooden hat for exploring surrounding sounds, still from video, credits: Camilla Topuntoli
A pair of shoes that have both the sound of the sole towards the floor but also the small metal sticks from a hairbrush glued towards the inside of the shoes. When the dancer moves her feet back and forth, you get an intense scratching sound.
The composition of a sharp sound of a pair of shoes with metal hairbrushes and a popping sound of the little carpet made of bubble wrap. These two sounds were merged with a soft sound that spongy carpet made. A little carpet with metal sponges (traditionally used for cleaning) gives a sound that is very similar to the sound of walking on the snow. The composition of these three sounds begins the performance.
The pair of shoes with hairbrushes, little carpet made from metal cleaning sponges and bubble wrap,
photo credit: Vidmina Stasiulytė