Why multi-sensory? And why now?

I've been thinking a lot about...

MV5BY2I3MThmYTctZTU4YS00YWNmLTg4YzktNDY0ZGE5MmQ3Y2Q3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTMxODk2OTU@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_.jpg

Like everyone on the internet I watched Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. And for me the reason Nanette matters NOW is because she is expressing something nuanced and something that she is completely impassioned about - we need to find new ways to connect.

Nanette is Gadsby’s honest, intimate, politically and socially charged message to us all. She is telling us something we all already know - we need to cut through the bullshit and find better ways to connect, to appreciate the diversity and difference in others and celebrate the voices of those who haven’t had the space to speak.

Two quotes that stay with me:

"To be rendered powerless does not destroy your humanity. Your resilience is your humanity. The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless. They are the weak. To yield and not break, that is incredible strength."

 

"To feel less alone, to feel connected"

 

So it made me think, if I relate so much to Nanette, how is her view of the world connected to BitterSuite?

We find new ways to connect, to bring together a fairly diverse group of people - with different backgrounds, nationalities, disciplines and ways of working.

What I am confident in is that we stand for human connection, for intimacy and for spaces where audience members can listen in a way they never have done before. We believe art needs to acknowledge the lack of these three things in everyday life and we want to be the people to provide a space for those three basic things: Care, intimacy and listening.

 

Care

BitterSuite_20_CreditZachGross.jpg

In a world dominated by surface level chatter and a totally nonsensical volume of things to do. We want to create work that invites the audience to come and be a part of something, where the performers are not just performing at them but actually physically and mentally paying the audience care and attention.

For a BitterSuite performance to be successful we have to get to know you (the audience). We have to stimulate your senses and see how you respond and pay attention to every reaction and response you give us. Then we have to learn from this and feed that back into your experience. We are listening to your bodies to understand if you are comfortable, agitated or any other number of reactions.

We are still learning how to do this and most likely will never stop learning. Because every single audience member is unique and every body we work with is different. We want to celebrate and honor that by continuing to make pieces which involve a high level of one-to-one experience.

Intimacy

_DSC4903.jpg

We are committed to creating work which is human and intimate. For us that means make the work personal.

Historically this commitment has influenced us to make one-to-one experiences where there are equal numbers of audience members to dancers. What this gives us is the extraordinary ability to physically guide and adapt the choreography in real time for every audience member.

It has also meant that touch has become our major creative focus, and it is one that we have found it to be a powerful and underestimated creative tool.

We do however, have to acknowledge that it is intense and not for everyone.

For this reason a big alternative question is on my mind ….

What would a BitterSuite concert look like that retains our intended level of intimacy and care but does not necessarily rely so heavily on touch?

 

Listening

We exist to deepen the experience of listening through the senses.

BitterSuite_21.jpg

We are a community of people coming from training in diverse disciplines - music, psychology, art, perfume, food. All of us believe the body listens to the world around it - we know the tongue listens to flavour, the ears to sound, the body to touch, the nose to smell.

We are creating spaces to play with the overlapping of the senses how it can feel as though the tongue, nose, body, skin are all listening to sound and in turn informing us how to listen.

Our approach is founded on the scientific and academic literature on crossmodality and the behavioural benefits of multi-sensory integration. The literature proves that our senses continually work together to deepen the experience of the sense being primarily stimulated. It also tells us that these multi-sensory approaches are actually good for us.

How do we make our creative choices?

We experiment through trial and error. We listen to the music ourselves, analyse it in terms of musical structure, history, tonality etc. and then from this informed place play with multi-sensory experiences that accompany that sound and bring out the themes we want to focus on.

Though we have an academic rigor our key devising principle is that it has to feel good to us and on our bodies in relation to the music. It has to feel synonymous with that moment of music.

We want to continue to create spaces which encourage listening in our audiences. And we believe these spaces are needed now more than ever.  We want to reach more people than we can currently reach with our model.

SO... our final question is...

How can we create a BitterSuite which retains the integrity of care, intimacy and listening but allows us to connect with a larger audience?