In 2013 or thereabouts, I realised that as a teacher at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (teaching Dalcroze Eurhythmics on the String Training Programme) I would have access to free studio space, so each Saturday after a day’s teaching I would go to a studio and see what happened. I would walk, dance, write, draw, sit and eat crisps, improvise at the piano, practice the piano… play out my day, de-brief, and research.

Having taken my first Licence Rhythmics exam in 2012, Kaye Barker and I decided to take our Licence Plastique exams at the Summer School in 2014. I had been intrigued to learn about the silent dance pieces of Mary Wigman, and Dalcroze’s writings about the body being the music itself, embracing what Karin Greenhead mentions in her article ‘The touch of sound’.

Émile Jaques-Dalcroze – pianist, improviser, conductor, composer, theatre director, pedagogue, and educational reformer – considered that music, when studied through his method, had the power to make the body perfectly expressive and that ultimately a new and silent art of movement, independent of music would come into being Greenhead, K. et al. (2015) The Touch of Sound: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a Somatic Practice.

So, for the solo assessment I decided to create a piece in silence. My weekly studio space became a research space. I started with a title My Heart Has Four Chambers and over subsequent weeks I devised a solo piece. I sourced a text, drew, played the text on the piano, and created a piece in solo form which I performed at the ICDS 2 in Vienna in 2015.

Link to performance here .

In early 2014, exasperated at how to explain my interdisciplinary self  to the world I created The Moving Theatre Lab  which became a space where I could explore the movement/music connection in depth. Little did I know that the way I devised my solo piece would become a template for how I engage in Plastique Animée within my teaching, facilitation, and performance practice.

In 2019 I led a session at The Playground Rambert taking the third movement form, Shostakovich String Quartet 7, to five dancers to embody in 90 minutes exploration. It was clear the body as a site for research was becoming increasingly interesting to me so, when at a session at Rambert Playground in the summer of 2022 Sarah Rubidge handed out flyers for the newly formed MA Dance Research for Professional Practitioners, I applied and started the course  at the Rambert School in the Autumn of 2022. Part of my research journey thus far has been autoethnographic. The photo attached is a model I made in February at Chisenhale Dance space looking at the intersections of Rambert, Dalcroze, Dartington (where I did my degree in music), and Chisenhale (a dance space set up by the X6 collective); a model of where I am coming from in my research, what I might bring to my research question.

My research question is investigating and recontextualising the embodiment of music through and in movement (Plastique Animée) using somatic approaches. I interviewed some experienced Dalcroze Practitioners at the Spring Course asking the question “Do you think what you do in Dalcroze is analogous to dance?” I have been fortunate to run two workshops with first and second-year students at the Rambert School.

I will be presenting the findings from my first year of research at this ICDS 6 this August.