In the process of devising performance, Jessica Cerullo and I have been strongly influenced by the teaching of Barbara Dilley. Dilley, one of Jessica’s mentors at Naropa University, is most known for her development of Contemplative Dance Practice (CDP) a widely used open form movement practice that we employed weekly during the Because You Are Here process. Barbara Dilley also taught a composition technique called “The Red Square” which was invaluable to our student collaborators as it encourages performers to mindfully consider their bodies in relation to the space they inhabit.
A thick red rope “is laid down on the floor, our gaze rests with the room and the Square. Nothing much is happening. Just waiting. Then something comes. “Like a fish leaping from water,” we see in our minds eye a glimpse of our self in a still posture in the Square. We rise up, walk into the Square, and inhabit what we see.” - Barbara Dilley from “This Very Moment: Thinking, Teaching, Dancing" p171
After each person has a chance to try out a Solo once or twice or two dozen times, we began with Duets. “Duets begin with someone in a Solo posture. Because you see that person in the space, where do you see yourself? Go to this image. Settle. Allow a moment for both postures to be seen [by the onlookers and well wishers.] Let the first person ‘peek” after the second one arrives. Let them see what they have inspired! It’s important to acknowledge influences. Now dissolve and leave.” - Barbara Dilley from “This Very Moment: Thinking, Teaching, Dancing" p173
After practice with these forms one can add “allies”-objects, prompts, lights, text and sound. You can also introduce a directors chair in which various participants sit and take on the role of giving out guiding instructions. We also expanded the experimentation into improvisations within the room as a whole in which we respond, moment by moment, to partners and in quartet.