What Poetry / Whose Poetry

Geomancy is a multimedia piece that combines dance, lyric poetry and visual projections. Although it does not follow a narrative, there are seven distinct characters. The character of Elizabeth is emerging as an energetic history-loving traveler whose attraction to World War I battle sites has summoned her to Flanders.

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She is met by — or maybe she summons — six ghosts of soldiers and local women who join in her poetic exploration of the land and its landscapes of war.

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The women’s presence brings with it a separate kind of poetic language, that is, dance that is inspired by the lyric poems about the space they inhabited and still haunt.

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And the soldiers — Higgins, Fletcher, and Wood — challenge the audience to find the poetry in primary documents from the period — military manuals and reports form the field.

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One result of our collaboration are powerful moments created when dancers act, and actors dance. All week our actors have been working with several of AGA‘s movement scores, just as AGA has engaged in textual character analysis. This crossover of artistic practices — all inspired by the piece’s poetic text — has marked our process, and so will undoubtedly mark this developing production.

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Indy Week: Geomancy -Brian Howe

The poetry merges with period texts, from trench songs to field manuals, and video projections of maps and monuments, all converging on the dance interpretation of AGA Collaborative. In the Great War, soldiers’ survival depended on their ability to “read” the landscape of the Western Front; Geomancy translates that idea into its own aesthetic language. 8 p.m., $5 suggested donation, 101 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, 919-364-0535. The Process Series.

February 13 and 14, Swain Hall, UNC Chapel Hill, 8 p.m., $5 suggested donation, 101 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, 919-364-0535

Squint: a score becomes a scene

To generate a new piece, AGA Collaborative creates movement scores that come from a text or question of some kind. Scores for Geomancy come from the script, that is, the poems written by Elizabeth Gray and Elisabeth Lewis Corley. Since these poems concern the places, events, and soldiers of World War I Flanders, AGA experimented with embodying military movement to see what ideas it might generate. As Gretchen explains, the score, “Squint,” explores the idea that when watching soldiers march from a distance, the movement patterns seem utterly uniform, but that if you squint at that mass of movement in order to isolate one soldier, the variations of that individual’s movement become legible. Director Joseph Megel is asking all of the artists to take on all types of performance – everyone sings, acts, and moves in this showing. Pictured below, Gretchen, Amanda and Alison integrate our three actors–Jeb Brinkley, Peter Vance, and Brandon Rafelson–into the Squint score. This became a movement piece that Megel then staged as a counterpoint to the reading of a poem.

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The “squint” score becomes a movement piece for Geomancy

AGA Collaborative Masterclass at UNC Chapel Hill

The premiere showing of Geomancy: Divination by Geography will be presented this weekend by The Process Series in residence at the UNC Chapel Hill Communication Studies Department. Geomancy is a new multimedia performance based on writing by Elizabeth T. Gray and Elisabeth Lewis Corley. Over the past few months, AGA Collaborative used Gray’s poem cycle about World War I to develop an original body of movement for the piece.

With all the artists in residence this week for rehearsals, AGA gave a masterclass for Heather Tatreau’s Advanced Modern dance class, where they invited students into their collaborative process. Emphasizing that just as ideas can fuel dance, so dance can create new ideas, AGA led students through a series the “movement scores” they used to generate work for Geomancy. Students improvised movement with scores inspired by Geomancy’s poetic text, such as “we strive to remain unattached,” “letting things reverberate in unexpected places,” and “the sporadic flight of paper airplanes.”

“Except the ground was wrong” Poet Elizabeth T. Gray on visiting Flanders

Geomancy: Geography by Divination began with a poem cycle by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.  Much of Gray’s poetry is fueled by her research into the many geographical / cartographic, and biographic histories of World War I. Here is a journal excerpt from Gray’s most recent trip to Flanders, where she notes:

It was raining a little, still, and I passed a farmhouse covered in flowers, a small fenced field with glossy cows and a few horses. I picked some blackberries. The woods were sparse and the sound of the rain on the leaves above and underfoot was a lovely change from airports and New York City. Like a walk in summer rain, in New England.

Except the ground was wrong, I could tell. Right away. Continue reading

UNC Charlotte students workshop Geomancy with AGA Collaborative and The Process Series

Our theatre department‘s commitment to developing new works includes involving our students in their faculty’s studio work, where they become co-researchers. This past December, UNC Charlotte theatre majors Dylaney Edinger, Tony Heard, Kineh Ngaojia, and recent BA graduate Connor Pate participated in a reading & working session with AGA Collaborative and The Process Series. AGA led our students in movement exercises that helped director Joseph Megel and writers Elisabeth Lewis Corley and Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. see the possibilities for how this multimedia piece might unfold.