Under the Direction of Amy Yopp Sullivan
The BodyMind Performance Laboratory and the Traveling Innovation Lab (TIL) at Stony Brook University join together to provide a creative laboratory for art making, educational initiatives, research activity and outreach. Dedicated to explorations of bodymind performance, physical intelligence, body narratives, movement systems, dance theatre, and body awareness, the space is home to numerous interdisciplinary efforts. These interdisciplinary initiatives, meetings and projects have included professional scientists, cognitive psychologists, leaders in industry and business, inventors in technology, creators in the arts, dedicated educators and seasoned medical professionals.
"Immaterial experiences, unlike the material world, aren’t finite. Experiential and physical knowledge is real, it can’t be put on paper, erected, or traded in the same way as material; it can only be actualized, or realized through a practice, and it is a fundamental part of human culture." Noemie Lafrance 2014
Past Project - Giants in Small, Shallow Pools (Fall 2004)
Concept/Artistic Direction/Choreographer - Amy Yopp Sullivan
The media composite of "Giants in Small, Shallow Pools" was created through dance/theatre explorations which engaged participants from the Stony Brook University Honor's College Program through a curricular course "Body Narratives". The laboratory course, taught by Sullivan, explored experimental performance tools to examine how enhanced human performance may affect diverse educational communities. The goal of the project was to understand the impact of practice and action training within a host of environments. Sullivan also choreographed the solo dance "Giants in Small, Shallow Pools", performed by Todd VanSlambrouck, also an Honor's College student, majoring in Anthropology and minoring in dance. Sullivan collaborated with Kurt Simbron, an undergraduate in Computer Science who edited the film as an Intern at the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching's Media Lab, directed by Paul St. Denis. In addition, the footage of the "Body Narratives" class was shot under the direction of Jan Diskin-Zimmermen, through a collaboration with SBU's Educational Technologies, directed by Gary Van Sise. The music for the media composite is composed by Steve Reich. The project was also presented as a live dance and media performance at the Staller Center for the Arts. Giants in Small, Shallow Pools was made possible with funds from JPMorgan Chase Artist Reach Out Program administered by the Huntington Arts Council.
By gathering leaders in the fields of education, performance, technology, filmmaking, movement, health science, psychology and the arts, we hope to find unoccupied territories for interdisciplinary thinking that inspire people to action. By building partnerships that offer an expansive view of creativity and collaboration, we plan to uncover and develop new dynamic approaches for productivity built from creativity and collaboration. The goals include educational reform, industry enhancement, inspired outreach and the examination of bodymind connections for interdisciplinary research and authentic artmaking.
Past Project - Project Alive! community outreach on site in Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina (2007)
Current Project - The Table Where We Met (Fall 2012)
During 2012-14, the laboratory is focused on mind body training and performance skills built from "Critical Movement and the Babel Technique©", designed by Sullivan.
The Table Where We Met - Interviews 2012
TIL (The Traveling Innovation Lab) brings applications, techniques and collaborative innovations to education, research, business, technology and healthcare environments in order to represent the actualized practice of physical knowledge. The goal of the work is to examine how ideas from performance, movement studies, somatics and dance can ignite and/or assist the human advantage within other environments. The work is focused on a range of techniques and applications launched by "thought, creativity, spontaneity, improvisation and adaptability".
During the Summer and Fall of 2013, Sullivan is pleased to represent TIL and become involved with the following volunteer and/or outreach work:
- The GATE (Guest Artists to Empower) Program at the Stony Brook Medical Center, working for a six week session with cancer patients and the "It's Your Move!" program
- The EMPOWER SCI (Spinal Cord Injuries) residential program at Stony Brook University, a workshop incorporating "Critical Movement and The Babel Technique"
- The Children's Defense Fund Freedom School at Stony Brook University, working for a six week session with the "Dance Me a Story" program for rising third graders
- The Healthier U: Wellness in the Workplace initiative at Stony Brook University, working with employees throughout the university offering workshops that develop from somatic learning and artistic expression, focused on Energizing the Body for interconnectivity, wellness, and creative, imaginative living.
For Further information about possible visits and collaborations, please contact: Amy Yopp Sullivan at Alice.Sullivan@stonybrook.edu
What is Critical Movement and The Babel Technique© ?
In the context of mind body training, the practice of Critical Movement© is dependent upon adaptable neural connections ready and capable of rewiring in order to meet the demands and challenges of a living, thinking, moving, speaking body. The Babel Technique© offers a combination of sensory vocal and motor skills to heighten mind body connections. It is proposed that Critical Movement© will emerge from the vocal physical and sensory practice of the Babel Technique©. The process involves freeing the voice to make a myriad of creative sounds in order to reestablish interconnectivity and expression through acts of serious and restorative play. The technique was first devised by Sullivan in 1996 while creating the dance theatre work “The Gossips.” It has been applied in workshops and to other performance work throughout the past 15 years, including "When the Sea Dies" performed at Staller Center for the Arts in 2007 and "Jete Ba Ba" performed as part of a Choreographer's Showing at Dance Theatre Workshop in 2008. The technique was named in July of 2012; and is currently being constructed and tested through workshops, presentations, research and performances to discover interdisciplinary applications and designs for technology, health care environments, therapeutic needs, leadership training and numerous other areas.
Most recently, two new dance theatre works, "The Table Where We Met" and "Alone Together" were created in the lab incorporating Babel in 2012-13. "Alone Together" was part of performance and research presentations at the "Minding the Body" CUNY conference in NYC (March 2013), "The Futures of the Cognitive Humanities" at Bangor University in Wales, UK (April, 2013), and The Northeast American College Dance Festival (March 2013). Babel has been presented at the Converging Science Summit at Stony Brook University; and will be presented at the upcoming Somafest+ISMETA (International Somatic Movement Educators and Therapy Association) in New York City, and NDEO (National Dance Educators Organization) conference in Miami (October 2013) and the 29th Annual BMCA (Body Mind Centering Association) US Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY (June 2014). The training techniques have also been used in the "Body Mind Performance for Leadership Training" course at Stony Brook University, part of the Undergraduate College of Leadership and Service offerings to freshmen. In July 2013, the lab traveled to the Cancer Center at Stony Brook Medical Center to work with cancer patients as part of the GATE (Guest Artists to Empower) program; and offered a workshop for EMPOWER (SCI) Spinal Cord Injuries to introduce the expansive and affective potential of "Critical Movement and the Babel Technique" for participants as they sense how their bodies can move in alternative ways after injury or illness.
Dancers are often trained in silence, ready to embody the complexities of thought and action without voice or vocal projections. Concern about a learned disconnect associated with dance training took an unexpected turn in 2006 when a dancer in one of Sullivan's rehearsal stated, “I no longer know how to dance when I have to speak.” The Babel Technique© was designed from critical thinking and intellectual standards of clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breath, logic, significance and fairness. The technique establishes connections of speaking with moving, thinking, sensing, and feeling (Feldenkrais), builds from Space Harmony (Laban) and reflects an authentic wholeness, which is being named Critical Movement©.
The experiments in performance were reported to transform university students, who described their work as it gained boldness, built new perspectives, increased depth, and sensation, challenged the way they thought and offered new ways of thinking, and discovered the kind of release, faith, trust and confidence that changed how they approached performance. A short film describes two choreographic works by Sullivan that explore the impact of these techniques: the dance theatre work “The Table Where We Met” and a constructed performance “Alone Together”. What is discovered is an increased animation and interconnection of mind and body. Both works were built through the Babel Technique© and formed into dance theatre choreography. Theoretical webs for Babel Technique© stand on the shoulders of vocal and physical cultures from around the world, experiments and research in language and movement, dance experiments in vocal choreography (Forsythe, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Damien Jalet), experiments with text and dance since the 1960s, physical theatre and developments from non-dancers and pedestrian movers who have found their own way into these areas.
It is proposed that the practice of the verbal/physical language in Critical Movement and the Babel Technique©, will diminish sensory soma amnesia (Hanna) and can contribute to restoring the memory of innate connections, influencing the practice of self-efficacy, affecting how one inhabits knowledge, and contributing to renewed personal health and well-being. It is proposed that the Babel Technique© may awaken a host of dormant interconnections within the human being, resulting in interdisciplinary applications throughout education, research, technology, performance and health care environments. Research and studies are being constructed to explore the effects of Critical Movement and the Babel Technique© within a host of contexts and environments across disciplines.
For further information about the BodyMind Performance Laboratory and the Traveling Innovation Lab (TIL), contact: Amy Yopp Sullivan at Alice.Sullivan@stonybrook.edu