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The Breathing Performer – a workshop founded and developed by Christopher Sivertsen.
With the help and assistance of the Awake Project Ensemble
“You are the most extraordinary and complicated instrument that exists and as an artist it is therefore important to learn how to tune and play this instrument.”
“The work of Christopher is truly transformative for actors, and performers interested in strengthening, integrating and exploring their bodies and their musicality. And powerful and transformative for dancers in search of deepening their theatricality and the use of their voice.
His work is unlike any other. He seamlessly weaves movement, voice, music & rhythm, creating a unique landscape of artistic exploration. His openness, skill (as actor, performer, creator, director) passion and sensitivity fill the room with magic, creativity and incredible possibilities.”
Sophie Bortolussi – Punchdrunk NYC (World Wide Falstaff Award Winner 2011)
Since 2007 the Awake Project ensemble has been developing an approach to theatre training and performance founded upon an investigation of breath and all aspects of rhythm.
The rhythm of language: meter, measure, stress, accent and cadence
Christopher’s approach to training is both passionate and playful and seeks to release and extend the performer’s capabilities in fundamental areas of the craft of performing. By deepening the participant’s connection with the essential elements of rhythm and breath his workshops aims to enhance and awaken the creativity in the participants.The Breathing Performer draws on sources including folklore, traditional song, hip-hop, jazz, poetic texts and personal stories. All of the work is designed to develop and deepen an understanding of the ‘self’, allowing for greater risks to be taken and to engage as much of the performer as possible in the creation of character and story.
Participants will leave this workshop with a greater understanding of how breath and rhythm can function as the foundation for ensemble theatre and personal creativity.
“Rhythm is a healing power that combines the above with the below and through whirling breath and pulsating blood, constantly creates anew”
Fritz Von Bothmer
“I am Inspired beyond belief and I am waking up to the potential of this body I occupy! I am absolutely excited beyond words! Thank you for all that you have shared. “ Eloisa Drysdale (AUS)
“The best…workshop ever!” James Turpin (UK)
“It felt like performance should: dreadfully dangerous but totally exhilarating and above all connected.” Jonathan Bonnici (UK)
Workshops 2013: SITI Company NYC, USA 8, 9th of March -
Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, Spain 27 and 28th of April -
Workshops in 2011 were given at KHIO/ Skuespillersenteret and Rom for Dans in Oslo Norway, Espacio Fándula in MADRID, Spain. Spoke the Hub in NEW YORK CITY, USA, Wraps Arts Center Bergen, Norway, AuBrana Cultural Centre, France, and National Youth Theatre in London, UK.
When I watch a performance I want to be moved and touched by the performer. In order to reach the audience I believe one has to be courageous and willing to take risks. I want to see a performer who has penetrated the moment and is able to tell, through the presence on stage, his or her own story through text, song, dance and movement. Integrated! By doing this, the performer starts an exchange of experience with the audience rather than just engaging. Every moment has something to tell and it is the performer’s task to transfer the essence of that moment. This should be done in a way that is alive and engages both the audience and the performer himself in a constantly ﬂowing and, at the same time, focused manner.
A performer in the heat of action or in the stressful process of creating material for a performance, or simply in training, is in need of a neutral state. Or as I call it: A safe place. Stress often disturbs the natural ﬂow of creativity – the stress of timing, creation, emotion and “pressured directors”. In order to manage these stresses, a safe place is needed. This safe place is in the mind and can be used by the performer as a platform at any time. The safe place is individual. To ﬁnd it I use tools such as relaxation, yoga, and improvisation based on movements and sound. Through this safe place it is possible to ﬁnd that core inside you, which is genuinely you, and therefore always with you.
On the way towards this peak of achievement there are many steps and dimensions to explore through training. All of these are interrelated and include a constant work with breath. Breath is essential for life. It is the connection with which the internal and external worlds are united. It tells others and us where we are in relation to a pulse and rhythm, space and partners; it can sound and express, change dynamics, create thunderstorms and small breezes. It can create silence and stillness. Breath is invisible and powerful.
When the safe place is established the performer can start to tune to their self, their partners, the space (including ﬂoor, acoustics, air etc) music, text, story, movement, choreography, rhythm, group, and the audience. Throughout the working period, whether it is a workshop or a long project, tuning is a constant process, and it is based on the art of listening.
Listening is also the base for work on rhythms. There’s rhythm in absolutely everything, and to me it is like an invisible zipper between different elements in this world. To create a basic pulse, I work musically with rhythm exercises: rhythm in singing, vocalizations, breathing, stepping and clapping. When this basic pulse is established I work with counter rhythms, and on using our inner rhythms to relate to the outside rhythm. Building on this work I add choreography and movement in relation to beat, tempo, and the progression of dynamics. I also
include instruments and moving objects.
The rhythm of the music: beat, tempo, time, pulse and swing
The rhythm of language: meter, measure, stress, accent and cadence
The rhythm of daily life: pattern, flow, tempo, duration, counter point.
The rhythm of connection: timing, distance direction listening
IMPULSES & TIMING
Once listening and using rhythm has been established the performer can explore his or her ‘vocabulary’ by working with impulses. By impulse I mean a reaction and relation to a stimulus, whether it comes from the outside – from a text, from music, a physical movement, a partner’s touch or from the group dynamic – or from inside, from an emotion or a thought. Impulse exercises work through speciﬁc outside stimuli to extend the performer’s narrative tools, and through encouraging the performer to relate to their own stream of impulses – their own internal narrative.
After working in different physical theatre companies and with gymnastics, I ﬁnd that acrobatics have helped me enormously as a performer. By working with these exercises the performer trains and learns trust, courage, conﬁdence, sensitivity, strength, agility, lightness, weight, tuning of impulses, timing, complicity, focusing, involvement, responsibility, and support. Acrobatics are done as solo work, duo work, and group work. Vitally, acrobatics are an aid to any performer at any level and in any ﬁeld: the beneﬁts come from discovering your body anew and from working in new ways with partners.
As a solo instrument we are unique. When we learn how to play in an ‘orchestra’ we can experience how elements like the ones mentioned above interrelate in exactness. Working with coordinating these elements within a group, through the breath, the listening, the tuning, the rhythm, the impulses, with changing intensity, energy, vigour, and dynamics, gives a base for telling a story through text or movement in the environment of a performance in progress.
I introduce a way of creating a character through approaching a material from different perspectives. The Present, the Future and the Dream. These are sources for gestures and movement which we collect and use as a base for research. Then we repeat and sculpture until ﬁnding an original and organic character. Each gesture and movement we find functions as a door into a free space. And the perspectives gives the character depth and dimentions.
While working on the above mentioned exercises and following the process of
training one should always focus on an inner story or a particular given task. This
inner story does not necessarily mean an intellectual narration, it may also be your immediate experience of what you are doing. This will bring life into your movement and your voice. The exercises bring you as a performer closer to the abilities already present in your body. You become familiar with the vocabulary of your voice and body and learn to connect this to song, text or movement expression. You learn how to build and create a character through working with Perspectives. You learn how to give and take in a group and to relate to fellow performers. The way from your inner sources to expression goes through your body. Learn how to master it.
Christopher holds a Master of Arts (distinction), from Manchester Metropolitan University based on these techniques.