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  • Writer's pictureBecky Horne

Multitasking: documenting whilst doing

In March when the majority of us were consigned to our homes, of course there were far fewer possible activities any of us could partake in, but having one room in a shared London flat and working from home as a dancer, was a particular type of challenge. From what was shared online and through conversations with colleagues, to this challenge, it was clear there were multiple approaches; it’s a good job artists are creative by definition.

Initially subconsciously, I started reflecting. I am interested in documenting, which is something I’m newly aware of - I was using documentation of dance purely as a tool (to remember sequences of movements and prove my worth).

Shifting further to accessing dancing digitally, wading through personal social media struggles; probably my reluctance is to blame for never finding satisfaction or representation in video footage.

After having this space to retrospectively document and process, and then returning to doing; this sudden urge to document as I do, is almost distracting. Dominantly I learn kinaesthetically and so my main concern has always been doing. And now there is competition, a new desire to capture it also – I want to catch moments, images, sensations, expressions, situations, and series of events; movements, positions, timing, lighting, conversations, phrases, colours, sounds… you get the idea…

These things arise organically

It’s impossible to document most of life

How it is received is often different from how it is best documented, demonstrated, explained or


My brother says that cashews taste of the smell of paint

Art might be just that: translating through senses and mediums

I am attracted to the way a live dance only exists in that moment; a film of the same dance is far from it (and that is valid in itself, but it is different). Like cooking, you create something that is completely consumed. And so it exists in memories and embodied knowledge. Reproducing is skillful.

Saving and storing - why is this necessary?

I’m realising that it’s not so much about creating vs documenting, for example my current favourite ways of documenting seem to be drawing and writing which are activities in themselves, but more about how it can be beneficial to engage with something in different ways.

Gaining clarity by distilling a quality/experience/moment/thought into something more focused, concise or digestible. If I write it down for myself it is messy, if I write it down for someone else it is a lengthier process, but is clearer. And specificity is useful.

Whilst dancing together outside in a situation organised by Marina Collard, we participated in an exercise proposed by Carolyn Roy, Sean Murray was my partner. The next day I asked Sean if we could reattempt the exercise so I could take pictures to refer to whilst drawing.

Now I know that it was the perspective created by the scenario that was especially interesting to me.

I’m not sure that dancing and documenting can happen simultaneously; perhaps alternately, one informing the other. And if so, I’d like to smooth over the exchanging of roles.

Working over the summer on Salvage, a project proposed by Ben McEwen, with Alessandra Ruggeri, Bun Kobayashi, Julia Testa, & Sophie Arstall, prior to dancing there were conversations surrounding documenting, an offer to do so throughout with the possibility to film from the inside.

I was eager to try this, hoping to take images I could then use for drawings; what I had managed to capture was 95% grass, along with the reminder that I am primarily a doer and easily distracted.

In practice, I get seduced by the embodying, the pure physical investigation. As a dancer, having this preference is probably not problematic. But I would love to know how others negotiate these things…

Sketches of Bun & Ben, courtesy of Julia's more successful footage for references

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