Dr. Emilyn Claid, a professor of choreography at the University of Roehampton, a performer and a writer has researched falling as a creative practice and speaks about her project: ‘Falling, A Creative Practice.'
Dr. Claid starts the program by describing her project: "It begins in my life really as a dancer, I was a dancer until I was 14 or so, and all contemporary dancers learn how to fall. The relationship between gravity is absolutely basic to a dancer's training, because it is the way of finding movement and having a fluidity and creativity around movement. Sensing the body and ground and gravity is basic to the project. With that physical understanding comes a psychological awareness of the importance of falling, so at a certain point, I guess about 10 years ago, I also did a training in psychotherapy, and looked at the challenges of what I might call existential falling, or the fears of dying, and the fears of being depressed, of being down. I found myself putting these two worlds together, the physical body work and the existential knowledge of therapy, and this is where the project ‘falling a creative practice' began."
"All of this work is against a background, which is a complete opposite [to what I am doing]. Certainly in the West, falling is not just dangerous and painful, but it is also considered to be a failure and it's about shame. For most people, falling is failing and it's shameful, and it can be disastrous. And for me, that is really key to what is going on in the world politically as well."
Dr. Claid describes how training in falling takes place, and emphasises that this is more than a concept, this is a practice. "Because when we get a sense of what it is like to fall to the ground, we can then consider how different it might be to have to witness someone falling. Because at the moment most of us spend most of our time keeping everybody else up; to see someone else falling is to experience our own falling…"
John Harrison says he remembers being told at a very young age that everything needs to grow, and if it doesn't grow, it dies. Dr. Claid says that this is not quite true. "We also need to yield and let go, and meet the ground in order to grow. The western world has been about going upwards, we talk about economic rise and decline, we talk about everything in terms of upwardness, because downwardness carries this idea of failure, and yet upwardness is going to come to an end if we don't keep aware of and keep in touch with what our bodies are doing in relation to gravity."
In terms of relating her work with physical falling outwards to a more social setting, Dr. Claid describes ‘face falling' training. "You know how we are socially. We smile, we talk, and this is how we expect each other to be. So the task to begin with is to allow the muscles of your face to relax and drop. Watching someone do this and not smile, in social interaction, it affects people very strongly in terms of what it brings up. What it brings up is your own sense of being lost, grief, bereavement, abandonment, all sorts of issues comes up when the face is not kept up."
Dr. Claid sees that learning to fall is of crucial importance in a world based on success, but it begins very much with the personal.
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