Poetic Choreography by Zoe Katsilerou – reflection

Words by Ines Carvalho.

On the 25th and 26th of July ICEBERG — an international group of professional dancers, musicians and theatre practitioners dedicated to improvisation — organised WIG IV (Weekend Improvisation Glasgow), an online improvisation weekend full of workshops, screen-based practices and writings. Through this creative approach, the participants were invited to find their unique artistic language and get inspired by the power of improvisation to create new possibilities of movement. 

Workshop Reflection: Poetic Choreography, facilitated by Zoe Katsilerou

As part of the fourth WIG edition, Zoe Katsilerou — dance and voice artist and founding member of ICEBERG — delivered the workshop ‘Poetic Choreography’. It was a challenging workshop that gave us the (digital) space and time to rethink about the (physical) spaces around us, and how to reshape our perceptions of reality through the senses. During these trying times of lockdown our relationship with space has drastically changed, and that is why this workshop would not be the same if we were all together at the studio. The little windows on Zoom showed more than 20 different possibilities of creation and, even though we were sharing the same moment, the online has given us the chance to create a very personal experience for everyone. 

Guided by the voice of Zoe, the warm-up gave us something we all tend to forget about: time. With the eyes closed, the body forgot about the ticking of the clock and the tendency to rush. My only thought was about feeling the body in space and nothing else. This timeless narrative moved to a chapter where we were all the main characters. We had the power to choose between moving or not moving; showing what we’re doing or not showing, taking action or keeping still. 

That was when our story of poetics started. “As Zoe said, the poetic for her arises when we chose to shift our perspective of the ordinary, the ways we chose to look and interact with the daily. “After the first task, suddenly all the tiny little Zoom windows became live with different rooms and different types of bodies in it. Slow bodies looking for specific objects; frenetic bodies that started to move inspired by the task of ‘how does it feel to be that specific object?’

The impact of this embodiment process was powerful; so many different spaces, so many different opportunities. The wide range of responses was visible through the quality of the movement, so fluid for everyone and always with another additional task. From movement, participants had the chance to also translate their objects into voice and sound. A simple pink couch became a loud and bubbly ‘cou-cou-cou-couuuuch’. The transitions between tasks were always giving movers the chance to explore, to connect with themselves and the reality around them. 

After each improvisation task — inspired by the specific object — there was time for a written reflection, which highlighted the relationship between experience, movement and writing. And this is what poetics is made of: the space and time to experience creativity in many different ways.

Zoe is an interdisciplinary performer and maker with backgrounds in theatre (devised, physical & street theatre), contemporary dance, folk and polyphonic singing, voice coaching, improvisation and classical piano. In 2016, Zoe founded the Moving Voice Laboratory, a space for actors, dancers, performers and makers to explore relationships between choreography and text. Zoe is also a Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at Leeds School of Arts.

For more information on Zoe head to this website: https://zoekatsilerou.com, and to learn about ICEBERG visit: https://iceberg.international.

Image: Anthony Roblings.