Following Martin’s blog post (Unravelling and Rewinding Identities) I was in Zhao Liang’s rehearsal yesterday afternoon. The group was looking at a picture on an iphone of one of the intricate positions they can had created using their giant elastic band. They were trying to solve a very concrete problem, together (see photo below).
In the sequence I observed, a giant elastic band was winding and unwinding as the dancers moved with and along its length, before the band was joined into a circle to be transformed by the combinations of dancers in pairs moving together.
In the pub last night, Ted reminded me of a game that we call in the UK and the US Cat’s Cradle. It’s played with a length of string tied in a circle, in pairs (you can see how to play at
(http://m.wikihow.com/Play-The-Cat’s-Cradle-Game). When Person A holds the string in a certain position, Person B takes it by picking it up with her fingers and (if it’s done right!) transforms it into another shape.
The game only works with more than one person, and it takes a great deal of communication and co-operation to get it right.
The ‘Cat’s Cradle’ puzzle of Zhao Liang’ piece seems to illustrate the winding and rewinding that Martin was talking about yesterday. The important thing here is that the task cannot be done alone — it takes figuring out in a very concrete and pragmatic way. There are multiple possibilities for transformation and multiple entry points.