Firstly, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Carla Morrill, a Hull based dance artist/choreographer and participant of the Hull Dance Prize 2018.
My dance journey began at 16 when I studied BTEC Dance at Hull College. It was here where I progressed through higher education achieving a first class honours degree in dance and PGCE in post 16 teaching. Since then, I have and continue to work as a freelancer, working on a number of professional and local projects with Hull Dance, East Riding Youth Dance and professional company Rosie Kay Dance; all whilst studying a Masters in performance at Leeds Beckett University which I have recently completed.
Whilst studying on my MA, I received mentorship from body based artist and research-led practitioner Victoria Gray, whose practice draws on slowness, stillness and cellular- attention in kinaesthetic sensations through Body Mind Centering processes. During this time, I gained a new understanding of ‘embodied knowledge’ through somatic based practices including authentic movement and body-mind centering principles (paying attention to our different bodily systems, lots of breathing, and imagery), to create movement. I felt a real connection to this kind of holistic work. I became more aware of myself, more aware of my body. Thus, moving forward, I began to nurture my somatic experiences into my artistic practice as a dancer and choreographer.
I had previously taken part in the Hull Dance Prize back in 2015/16 with Hull company LO:CUS Dance Theatre, which was a great experience; dancing with some great friends, just showcasing to people what we did and loved. We were lucky enough to win the audience prize two years running; which gave us a great boost in confidence as a company. We had a great level of support from Hull Dance, friends, family etc. Although our time together was short, it was very sweet.
So why did I want to be a part of the Hull Dance Prize 2018? I applied for the prize as I felt it would be a great platform to showcase what I had been working on throughout my MA to friends, dance enthusiasts and professionals aside from academia. Having taken part in the with LO:CUS, I was a little apprehensive yet excited about returning as a solo performer. I felt it was time that I did something for myself and see how the work I’d created stood against that of other existing and emerging artists (which I must add were great this year). The prize offers artists with a varied portfolio of artistic interests a platform to share their work at the advantage that they could win some money to help towards future development. For that reason alone, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to do just that. I didn’t want to miss out – especially since the event is Hull based; I’d have been stupid not to. In addition, as mentioned, it’s hosted in Hull. As a local based artist, there isn’t much scope for sharing work, particularly of this kind of scale, with professionals and other artists to offer feedback.
Amazingly I managed to bag myself the audience prize (shared with the lovely Rachel), which was just ACE! Not only did it make me feel proud to be from Hull, but also proud of myself and the work created. People enjoyed it, happy days! I was truly overwhelmed by the lovely, positive words and constructive feedback I received from audience members: friends, family and even more so from those who were perhaps strangers to me and my work, judges included. Needless to say, I have a long way to go in regards to personal and artistic development choreographically and dynamically. Overall, it has been a very valuable experience.
What are my plans for the future in terms of making? I’m yet to figure that out myself. However, I intend to spend some time reconnecting with my body and developing my somatic research for choreography. As part of my artistic development, I will be hosting a workshop on Monday 11 February 2019, at the Hull Dance Pop Up Studio on Humber Street 10am- 3pm. The session will be a practical exploration of the creative process of Oba. Drawing on the somatic tools used for movement creation including: principles of gaga, imagery, authentic movement and improvisation J
To give a bit more background about my practice and prize piece ‘Oba’ (for those who may not have seen it), I specialise in contemporary dance with my current choreographic practice sitting in the realms of somatic attention. More specifically the self-sensing experience of the body; exploring and perceiving the body through a kinaesthetic lens. Another interest that heavily influenced the making of Oba is Gaga movement research. An Israeli based somatic technique (devised by Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company) that explores movement possibilities and dynamics via bodily sensations.
My body of works although still developing, privilege the body as site for movement; what does the body know, what doesn’t it know? Listening. Trusting. Questioning. On this occasion, I’ve attempted to play with somatic based practices as tools for choreography; using my experiences of Gaga movement research to deepen the connection to movement, pleasure, honestly and intricacy. The working process requires a deep level attention and focus; so, it is important to breathe, and give time to allow different movement possibilities to occur.
Carla Morrill, January 2019