Interview with Brooke Stamp

Brooke Stamp Tearaway Part One; The Crater of Motor Power (2014) (Photo Gregory Lorenzutti) Keir Award

Brooke Stamp is a dance artist working within a global matrix of peers to create work bridging fields of dance, visual arts, sound, conceptual performance, dramaturgy, writing, and curation. She is the 2022 recipient of Performance Space's Experimental Choreographic Residency, in partnership with Critical Path. We sat down with Brooke to better understand the conceptual and physical framework behind her current work-in-development. 

Can you please elaborate on what you’ve been developing over the last two weeks? 

I’ve spent the past two weeks deeply engaged in studio experimentation for a new work entitled “The Line is a Labyrinth”. For this residency I wanted to explore dance’s subterranean impetuses, and to develop an audial practice that uses live processing to augment spoken language and other psychic and subconscious slippages that keep company with my practice – in an effort to dislocate dance from its obligation to bodily form. 

I was able to work intensively in the first week of my residency with the extraordinary sound artist Daniel Jenatsch. Together we explored the conceptual dimensions of my proposition, deep-diving into a collaborative improvisational working space and cultivating a type of shared technology for live practice that allowed dance, via live- audial processing, to ‘digest’ itself into its own psychic constitution. I also started to imagine the works spatial and visual dimensions with collaborators Sidney McMahon & Brian Fuata – doing the very beautiful work of imaging and fleshing out a frame that might hold such a practice/piece. 

Very wonderfully, the residency afforded me the time and pleasure to invite trusted long-time artistic associates and friends, including Sarah Rodigari, Agatha Gothe-Snape, and Lizzie Thomson, to visit in on my process too, and to develop incredibly rich and thoughtful dialogues with Performance Space and Critical Path teams. 

You talk about wanting to learn about “the body’s temporal assemblage”. From your artistic inquiry, can you explain how this temporal nature relates to our conception of embodiment?

I’m interested in choreography as an expression of real time, and so when I talk about the body’s ‘temporal assemblage’ I think I’m trying to open the door to how my body, in all its present, fleshy actuality – meets with the internal timescales and signatures of its labyrinthine networks and circuits. Its electrochemical signals, memory patterns, apparitions, forces, that live submerged behind gesture. Its mischief. In this sense both the organal and the subliminal are my main materials – and perhaps they propose an alternate prototype, or register, for our conception of embodiment. 

Prior to the residency I’d been thinking a lot about …. how I think about … embodiment. Dance naturally signifies ‘bodies’ as the primary subject of dance but I’m curious to reconceptualize the centrality of the body via the expression of bodily subconsciousness. I want to tap the idea of a universal bodily matrix significantly more elastic, malleable and versatile. 

So, I’ve been continuing in this vein of my practice that interrogates and reorganizes inherited thought and movement systems – to rather reposition the whole-body sensorium as one that favors the psychic crevices, the symbols, spirits, sensations, spasms, and slippages – that better reflect my bodies potential as an agent across time. 

How has the project changed and shifted during the residency?

By opening my exploration to the ‘subconscious stuff’ that rises to the surface when I dance – a language beyond ‘language’ has developed, and rather, a bizarre concoction of conflictual feelings, sensations, real & imagined narrative coordinates started to hang in the space between Daniel and I. I’ve been moved and surprised at how quickly a world formed between us. A space significantly more strange and perhaps fictional than I’d anticipated. These slippages now hang like discrete atmospheres, or scenes – and our palette feels more particular and deliberate in a quasi-dissociated way – than I might have imagined before working together. I think our shared dedication to open, continuous practice and experimentation compelled from us something very intuitive, something altogether magical, weird, textural, and tenuous. 

How did your collaboration with Daniel Jenatsch shape and inform the work?

Daniel has shaped the work dramatically, essentially bringing his beautifully idiosyncratic blend of alienesque skill and intuition to the process. He’s been working with multiple channel audio, so he not only augmented my vocalizations but moved them – like sculptural textures through the room. He’s stretching and spatializing my utterances into frequencies that are juicy and mercurial – creating the works psychological weather. 

You describe Brian Fuata and Sidney McMahon as ‘dramaturgical chaperones’. How did the team all work together? 

As ‘dramaturgical chaperones’ both Brian and Sid are agents in the realisation of the work, following my process as it grows, emerges, takes form and direction. Brian has been in Finland during my residency, so we worked in the lead up via zoom, and via Brian’s preferred platform of vlogging to flesh out my conceptual terrain. Sid has been visiting me in studio and is such a powerful and familiar presence there for me – feeding back with illuminating observations and questions, conceptual and aesthetic. Both artists are intimately connected with my improvisational practice and they each anchor me with fearless friendship. 

Lastly, what’s next? What should we keep an eye out for?

I’m incredibly excited and curious to see this work come to life. The piece has really started to possess its own character and form, and I think Daniel I would like to both see and hear it unfold in a beautiful big black box space with a stellar sound system. So next, is to share it … and with support from some brave venue partners I hope to see it come to life next year. 

Follow Brooke on Instagram @brookeamitystamp to follow the progress of this work

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