The Blue Road
The Blue Road is a multi-year project that delves into modes of performance practice. This project began as an improvisational practice using 45 body landmarks to guide new movement pathways, and thus far has found form as a 16mm dance film and as a performance piece with live music.
The title of this ongoing project references Blue Highways, a book by William Least Heat Moon. In this travelogue, Least Heat Moon navigates the backroads of America in his converted camper van, charting a course less traveled. His title alludes to the fact that on old atlases of America the central highways were demarcated in red and the smaller, less convenient highways colored blue. This purposeful navigation by Least Heat Moon through the less obvious but more rewarding pathways through America mirrors our desire to navigate the less obvious but potentially more rewarding pathways through the body.
For two years, we have been exploring a physical score, a movement map of sorts, for navigating the infrequently explored pathways of movement through our bodies. This score is a series of 45 physical markers, either joints, limbs, or bony landmarks act as initiating points for movement. To connect to the traveling motif, these physical markers are the highway signs guiding the mover to their next location. We move through these 45 markers, which are purposefully arranged so that our habitual movement patterns are undermined. It is exhilarating, surprising, and shockingly frustrating at times to dance the score, as the task that we have set up is purposefully antithetical to our years of physical training. But as Least Heat Moon found in his adventure through the backcountry of America, taking the long way 'round, while inefficient, is profoundly revealing. He gained a new appreciation for the plurality of the American experience, and we are gaining a new appreciation for the undiscovered potential in our own physicality.
As dance artists, we have been trained into particular patterns, habitual action that can be replicated exactly through a myriad of classes and performances. While this rigid organization is a necessary step in the training of a dancer, it has the stifling effect of inhibiting creative expression once that performer turns choreographer. The choreographic process is driven by movement invention, and while the efficiency and clarity that derives from technical training gives choreography a sense of physical harmony, it does not necessarily lend itself to creating new ideas in the body. As embodied scholars, it is essential that we continue to delve into the depths of physical possibility.
In January of 2018, Goudie-Averill performed an early solo version of The Blue Road at a studio showing through Movement Research’s Open Performance series in New York City. Throughout 2018, we continued our solo and duet research, and recorded our experience in our rehearsal logs (Beau's Log // Ellie's Log). Support from a Stockton University Research Grant allowed Stone Depot to work with noted dance filmmaker Tori Lawrence on video and film studies, one of which can be viewed on this site (16 MM FILM). In the summer of 2019, we continued our investigations as artists-in-residence at Subcircle's Farm, a dance residency space in Biddeford, Maine, where we presented our work-in-progress to the community. We also published an account of our time at Farm on thINKingDANCE.org. Our current Blue Road investigations are leading up to a live version of our research at the Performance Garage in Philadelphia, May 2020.