Anything Whatsoever offers a group training to witness the emergence of meaning, a blank page where our collective imagery can be rewritten.
In a space where everything is yet to be born, choreographer and dancer Katie Ward navigates through her own body archive while respecting its incompleteness. Anything Whatsoever offers a break, a space within which to condition imagination, to the two dozen audience members, who witness the emergence of meaning on a blank page, where our collective imagery can be rewritten.
In the live performance, two juxtaposed scores are at play: the one written for the body of the performer and the audience’s spoken score. Their combined presence weaves a collective intimate reflection, fueled by Katie Ward’s dancing, at the centre of it all. The various states of the moving body that echo fragmented utterances and improvised dialogues serve as a mediation between reality, the uncanny, and the imaginary. This relational practice at the heart of Anything Whatsoever resists the temptation of the spectacular. A room of one’s own unfolds in this space, where collective musings surpass. Perhaps this is Art’s concern.
Produced by Compagnie Katie Ward
Choreographed and performed by Katie Ward
Dramaturgy Ame Henderson
Rehearsal Director and Phenomenological Consultant Peter Trosztmer
Artistic Support Marie-Claire Forté
Lighting Design Paul Chambers
Recording Producer and Coordinator Michael Feuerstack
Piano Mathieu Charbonneau + Yolande Laroche + Jesse Levine
Costume Maerin Hunting + Katie Ward
Live Sound Andréa Marsolais Roy
Boom Operator Camille Gravel
Developpement Support La Machinerie des arts
Video Clark Ferguson
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines + La Rotonde
Creative residencies The Stable + MAI (Montréal, arts Interculturels) + Dance4 (Nottingham) + La Rotonde (Québec)
Codiffusion La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines
Thanks to João da Silva + Konstantina Georgelou + Paula Walta + Katie Ewald + Leanne Dyer
The artist wishes to thank her community, close and far.
Premiered at Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, on May 27, 2021
Written by Myriam Perraton-Lambert
Translated by Luba Markovskaia
Katie Ward (Montreal) Compagnie Katie Ward
Katie Ward takes care of our imaginations and of the ties that connect us together. Since Rock Steady (2011), as a choreographer and performer, she has been exploring the molecular, energetic, and emotional composition of a collective body, challenging the ways in which it assembles and is undone in its multiple possible forms.
In keeping with this mission, that same year, she founded the Compagnie Katie Ward (CKW), seeking to foster the practice of sharing collaborative and creative production processes.
Sensitive to physical phenomena and to the transformation of human as well as inanimate matter, she pursued a quantic approach with Infinity Doughnut in 2014. Later on, with Peter James during the creation of Matière grise (FTA, 2016), she explored the qualities of a renewed gaze with a drifting yet committed focus on the environment. In turns minimalist and maximalist, filled with resilience and self-deprecation, her unconventional process works show an acute awareness of the fellowship between audience and artist, who can find common ground in joint speculative meditations.
In 2019, imaginationreality marked the beginning of an increasingly deliberate relational practice, from which stems Anything Whatsoever, a performance developed over the course of several residencies: at La Rotonde (Québec) in 2020, at Dance4 (Nottingham, UK) in 2019, MAI and The Stable (Montréal) in 2018. To this day, Katie Ward has been committed to investigating the interdependence between humans, creation, and the crafting of a common purpose. With her latest work, the audience is also invited to raise its voice to explore the textures of reality in the choreographer’s live performances, reminding us of the revolutionary potential of our imaginations.
The choreographic score for Anything Whatsoever is above all a solo improvisational performance based on your bodily archives. What exactly does this entail?
First of all, it means that I start by revisiting various motions, states, intensities, and traces from past encounters and performances, and let them emerge from my mental and physical memory. I seek to reveal my own subjectivity through the subject matter of my dance—be it intimate, day-to-day, public, or artistic. There is no hierarchy of topics; one thing that I express by dancing is not more important than another. I let myself go entirely and uncompromisingly to one bodily state, followed by another, without ever taking breaks and while avoiding all mechanical repetition.
My only aim is to dance one thing, then another, and another one after that. This requires mental and physical stamina. In fact, it is an impossible task. Mistakes and hesitations are apparent, but that’s what makes it a human endeavour. The audience sees everything that I’m going through, live. I’ve got nowhere to hide. And so, I have to accept everything that arises, even though sometimes I’d rather see something else emerge. These raw pieces of fragile matter end up forming my choreographic score, which slowly begins interacting with the audience’s spoken one.
In this regard, in The Tale-Tellers: A Short Study of Humankind, Nancy Huston writes: “[O]ur imagination makes up for our fragility, without it, without the imagination that gives the real meaning that it does not have in itself, we would already have gone.” Do you see a fruitful connection between fragility, incompleteness, and our instinct of tale-telling?
I absolutely believe that tale-telling is a survival strategy. In Anything Whatsoever, I focus on what is happening at a neurological level in that second when a new idea or a new observation takes form in my mind or in that of a participant. Is it possible to activate our natural ability to create meaning and to resort to our imaginations at a moment in history where there is a sort of cultural homogenization of our visions?
In the mid-seventies, in the United States, neurologists such as Lester Fehmi discovered the now famous Aha! moment: the sudden flash of meaning that erupts in times of wandering, rest, relaxation, or boredom, when the individual surrenders to daydreaming without even realizing it. In some ways, I feel like a canvas full of blank spaces, openings, and vulnerability onto which people can instinctively project their imaginations.
I hope to create a space where meanings can coincide to create awareness of our own thoughts, of our own imagination. A chamber of dreams, like those found in Ancient Greece, where it was possible to rest and to visualize one’s healing process.
The context of your performance aims to be welcoming, forthright, playful, with the audience serving as cocreator of the work. Is this what you might call a relational practice?
I do hope to create a welcoming environment both for people who are familiar with performance art and those who aren’t. Over the past five years, I’ve been wondering what my place is in the current landscape. Do I even have a place, and how can I contribute to a productive, healthy, sustainable, and fair conversation?
This work is a way for me to make a tangible first step in that direction, that is to say towards an inclusive relational practice. All observations, questions, feelings, and shared responses are valid during the performance, as there is no build-up or development. I’m not looking for an answer or a linear narrative construction. There are no choreographic phrases and no climax.
Anything Whatsoever reveals what is happening in the space at the time of the encounter, as it is slowly uncovered by what the audience expresses. Meanwhile, my work is to dance as much as possible. Aside from that, there is no topic. It is an invitation to collectively write a fragmentary and shared reality in the moment. And imagination is fundamentally relational: it is what ties bodies to words, fact to fiction.