The weathered feeling (including autobiographical anecdotes)
For years I have been repeatedly told by members of my family to ‘stop moaning about being cold and put a jumper on’. In recent months I have enjoyed relearning this quite basic principle of preparing properly for the weather.
Image: Sophie Holland
The safe outdoors:
With an anxiety now attached to indoor spaces, outside has become the safer option – novel in urban areas perhaps. And I have become increasingly aware how much happier I have always been outside.
Therefore for me, it makes sense that the first more formal dancing scenarios have occurred outside.
To go from solo sedentary activities in one room, to moving with friends and colleagues in open spaces and the sensory experiences which that provides, is overwhelming and exciting in equal measure.
The definition of dancing is sometimes distilled to bodies and their relationship to space – whether or not you entirely agree with that concept, I doubt many people would disagree that space is more than significant to dancing.
Ceilings and walls contain spaces, that is what being inside is; outside the space is not contained. My recent experiences of dancing in uncontained space, is having a heightened sense of scale and awareness of vastness that is brilliant and sometimes distracting. I have to be disciplined with my concentration when there is so much information available.
I particularly like the way trees can frame the space.
There is this safety and yet vulnerability of not having the safety of being in a contained space.
Not the scenery:
People often express the benefits of ‘reconnecting with nature’ when they’ve been outside – this is true for me too, however I have spent most of this year in London and nature hasn’t been the most prominent part of my outside experiences.
It has been the sensory experiences, perhaps most excitingly the physical sensations provided by the weather; a substitute for touch.
There is something relevant about temperature:
I have recently felt that people’s capacity for empathy has been in short supply and was wondering if the diversity of the struggles individuals have faced this year was to blame for this.
And then I spent some of the hottest days of this summer working in a museum. Watching every visitor notice the industrial fan in the middle of the room and wholly revel in it. In the UK we’re not so prepared for working in 30+°C heat.
Nobody wants to be unbearably hot; it turns out that nobody wants others to be uncomfortably hot for extensive periods of time either (if the number of times the usually silent visitors offered strong words of support is anything to go by) – the sensation is so tangible that they cannot empathise enough. If we bypass the temptation to talk about the stereotypical ‘love’ British people have of discussing the weather, weather and temperature are physical sensations that everybody can relate to. Perhaps that’s why the topic works so efficiently as small talk?
At a moment where there has to be an absence of touch, I am satisfied to notice other areas of shared, physical, sensory experience.
‘Is it just me or is it really cold in here?’
‘Take that jumper off, it’s making me hot’
The envy of not being outside when you want to be experiencing that and the anti-envy of when you don’t
have to go outside in conditions that you don’t want to experience.
It seems that people are invested in others being a comfortable temperature and I don't entirely understand why it becomes so emotive.
I’ve been intrigued by the concept of kinaesthetic empathy for a while, particularly how this can be achieved by dancers. Personally, I find less theatrically emotional work, more interesting – this maybe links with authenticity. But I’m interested in other forms of empathy that are physicalized too, like being too hot, or in my case usually being too cold.