The 2005 IAVMT Conference in Kent, UK
Bore Place was again the beautiful venue for the Fifth Annual Conference of our organisation. There were sixteen participants from different parts of the UK and US.
The opening on Friday afternoon developed into a sharing and discussion, from which emerged further evidence of the way in which the core principles of the work are deeply relevant in many different strands of application: the profundity of pure voice and song work; the exploration of voice and psyche in theatre; the extension of voice in musical composition; the awareness and expression of voice and body in a clearly therapeutic context. One or two people also were beginning to find a footing for this work within a business context.
On Friday evening we were marvellously entertained by Bonnie McCubbin with her one-woman show, entitled "Any Day Now". With vitality, poignancy and much humour Bonnie brought to life her sub-personalities, reminding us of the different aspects within us all, dancing around our still, observing centre.
Saturday morning was activity time. Caroline Gill began with a warm-up: "Breathe Deep and Vocalise", reminding us of the link between breath and yoga, including massage for each other and then vocal warm-ups.
This was followed by Deborah Crane’s experiential exploration of the work and differences of approach of Kristin Linklater and Catherine Fitzmaurice. Kristin works with a relaxed body, seeking deeper and deeper for the inner impulse and centre of the voice. Catherine Fitzmaurice, on the other hand, developed her work from a Reichian body perspective. We experienced a clear comprehensive idea of the constriction and power of body structures in order to de-structure then re-construct the body. Deborah mentioned two other voice exponents: Christa Ray, a VMT practitioner who has researched the relationship between Voice Movement Therapy and Grotowski’s work for actors, and Richard Armstrong of the Roy Hart Theatre. He often uses the concept of misdirection to aid access to the voice. A beautiful piece of group work explored this: passing an orange from person to person, silently, then again with more attention, in time allowing the voice to emerge with the movement. The orange then dispensed with, the now imaginary object and voice could change at will, effortlessly.
Saturday afternoon brought our keynote speaker with "The Birth of an Idea", an introduction to the life and work of Alfred Wolfsohn. Sheila Braggins held us spellbound with her personal memories of AW and her knowledge of his outlook and work. AW was fifty years ahead of his time in his deep awareness and love of the human voice: "The expression of life itself; the expression of the soul itself". We were treated to archive tapes exploring vocal range, from Jill Johnson who sang Mozart’s "The Magic Flute" in the original keys of all the characters, to the fabulous range of the all male Don Kosaken Choir. We became fully aware of AW’s own ideas, increasingly resonating with Jungian concepts although, sadly, the two never met.
AW always listened to the individual, including himself, observing the growth of the psyche within the voice. It was through illness that he discovered the cracked sounds in the voice.
Late Saturday afternoon brought the rich and authoritative experience of "Taan Singing" from Jenni Roditi. An exciting, enduring link was made for us in exploring a disciplined and ancient approach from another culture. We were challenged to sing intricate, rhythmic work from the North Indian Classical tradition. It was great fun too. Jenni also performed some of her own wonderful work based on Taan singing.
Saturday evening ended with the usual informal sharing of group singing and performance. The performances spanned the range of styles and all were warm and heartfelt.
Sunday morning began with a short song space led by Bernadette O’Brien, and the Conference ended after the AGM and lunch
With renewed energy and an ever-deepening sense of connection with and expansion of the work and with each other, we said farewell to the quiet beauty and the wonderful staff of Bore Place. We shall return in 2007.
To download the 2005 conference report (.pdf format, 68KB) please click here
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