Word and Motion Collaboration

Trip, fall, fail, discover!

Instead of springing forth as a fully formed product, a work of art emerges through uncertainty, discovery, trial and error, transgression, exploration, accident, playfulness, or misuse. This two-part collaborative assignment joins students together from two courses–The Body Moveable and Fundamentals of Creative Writing–to facilitate practicing attention to this generative and productive messiness. Students will become acquainted with the pleasures of creative process and will heighten their sensory self-awareness as artists working within an interdisciplinary community.

Although your projects will be much smaller in scale, here’s a link to inspire you: Excerpt from Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s “Dictee” choreographed and performed by Soomi Kim

A Ble Wail, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, solo performance at the Worth Ryder Gallery in Berkeley, 1975. (©Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, photo courtesy of Trip Callaghan)

October 16: Get ready to move!

This short in-class demo will introduce students to movement as a creative process beginning with increased awareness of how they perform simple motions.

October 17: Studio Workshop

In preparation for today’s activities, please wear minimal jewelry and comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely such as yoga pants. (If you need to change, locker rooms are available near the studio.) Bring a notepad and a pen as well. Please note that shoes and food are not allowed in the studio.

How might a poem’s metaphor activate a sensory experience engaging the body to move? How might this movement be an act of reading? How might movement–as a language–stimulate written imagery? This motion and word assignment asks you to explore these questions in assigned collaborative groups toward the development of an original poem enacted through motion and performed for your peers.

Moving into Movement

We begin today with two warm-up activities based on Mary Oliver’s “White Flowers” and Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man” in order to open up your senses and to facilitate your physical interpretation of a poem. Moving in response to Oliver’s imagery and verbs, how might you discover motions that you can refine into a sequence? Reading Stevens’s “The Snow Man” aloud, how might the physical act of voicing the words generate movements, which you can further shape with increasing intentionality?

Moving into Writing

Reflecting on moving in dialogue with the poems, sit with your group and individually write whatever comes to mind. Let your imagination guide you. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, or even making logical sense. Whatever automatically emerges, write it down, allowing your hand to move across the page. If your imagination gets stuck, write “stuck, stuck, stuck” until you find “sticky as in taffy as in tar and far the distance fox fire springing from a thicket…” Keep your hand moving across the page.

Re Dis Appearing, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, video, 1977. (©Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Electronic Arts Intermix)Assignment Pr

Assignment Prompt

Based on your group’s automatic writing, co-author a 6-10 line poem. As you write, your group may also wish to generate more lines, peer edit, and revise drafts. Consider while writing how you would interpret the language through movement. You might find that movement guides the words you choose inasmuch as words trigger your physical vocabulary.

Create a 2-3 minute performance, and title it. Feel free to include speaking as part of how you move. Please plan to perform this project on November 7th. Students may choose either to videotape their projects beforehand and show them as short films in class, or they may perform the project and record their work live.

If you choose to record your performance before the November 7th gallery, please upload the file as a youtube link. We will have a computer available and a screen.

Note: For Jennifer’s class, students should also write an accompanying process narrative of 300-400 words (2-3 double-spaced pages) describing their collaborative projects from inspiration, drafting, revision, and final performance. How did this interdisciplinary assignment challenge your assumptions about creative process and stretch your understanding of the craft of creative writing?

November 7: Project Gallery

Please email your poem to Jennifer (dobbs@stolaf.edu) for copying and distribution and advise of whether you intend to show a film or perform your project live by November 5.

On November 7, your collaborative group will present your co-authored poem and 2-3 minute collaborative performance. Students might choose to read the poem aloud before they perform, project the poem’s words on the screen during the performance, or something else altogether as a way to convey the poem as an integral part of their performance.

Note: Students in Jennifer’s class should make a video recording either before or during their performances in preparation for including it as part of their motion & word projects in their portfolios.


October 16:     Demo at 9:05-9:30 in RML 525

October 17:     Studio at 11:20-12:30 in Dittman Studio 1

November 5:   Emailed poem and note to Jennifer by 5 p.m.

November 7:   Gallery at 11:20-12:30 in Dittman Studio 3