Anna Brazier worked for 30 years in the British NHS as a Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Psychotherapist. She was a Consultant Clinician and Trainer based in The Children’s Hospital for Wales until August 2015. In 2008, Anna began training as an ITM Alexander Teacher as she had become interested in Alexander’s approach to psychophysical unity and human movement. She qualified in 2012. In October 2015, Anna began studying for an MFA at Cardiff Metropolitan University and the images in this post were made during a performance that is part of the preparation for her final show in September 2016 entitled ‘Like A Woman’
Three sets of ideas have emerged for me as I have worked in performance in the last few months. These culminated in a fifteen minute piece ‘Like A Woman’ first shown at Cardiff Metropolitan University as part of my MFA studies in May 2016.
A woman extending herself is often perceived as dangerous; in the UK we see that in media representations of our sportswomen, business leaders, academics and our politicians. In some parts of the world, aiming for extension, perhaps through education or new ways of living, is seen as so threatening to the order of things, that it can become dangerous to be a woman who dares to move.
But it can also feel a challenge to move in less threatening contexts. I have become increasingly aware as I reach sixty that to age as a woman in twenty-first century Britain is a complex affair. I think that Macdonald puts her finger on something important for those of us who where active feminists in our twenties – the excerpt below resonated for me remembering my younger self.
We have become the old woman we dreaded to be .. We are the woman we once saw as boring. We are the woman we didn’t want to look at….As long as we hold on to this legacy of our own ageism into our 60s 70s and 80s, we oppress our selves from within.
–Rosa Nogues, 2015
Personal and societal ageism may take many different forms for all of us, but bringing it into the light helps us recognise its shapes and influences and its potential to hold us still when we might like to move. Working with body-mind practices, including The Alexander Technique and Tai Chi, has offered me the opportunity to explore my capacities to play with balance, flexibility and extension through movement. It seems to me that engaging with and utilising possibilities for moving freely can make us harder to pin down, more difficult to prescribe for, less easily constrained.
These ideas, the perceived dangers of woman fully extending themselves, the issues that can arise as we age, and the potential we can utilise through mind-body practices, emerged as three threads of thinking in my development of the performance that is captured in the shown images.
In, ‘Like A Woman’, I’m engaging with a hard, rubber lacrosse ball and a crotchet hook with wool. The actions include dropping, rolling, bouncing, knotting, pulling, pushing, all carried out as an improvised series of connected movements of varying speed and intensity. I’m exploring how I move, how I pay attention, and how as a woman I can be at full extension as I dance with the materials i had chosen for their personal resonance. The lacrosse ball brings my sporting history into the work, the orange wool is left over from crocheting my grand-daughter’s first blanket. Shown here are the layered captured images of the performance, juxtaposing the work with two very different kinds of balls, playing in a pool of light. Thus I gently challenge expectations. I am not invisible and I suggest the possibility of moving freely, at full extension in any domain of activity, at any age.
Nogues, R. (2015). Laughing their way to the limelight: Ines Doujak’s Dirty Old Women. n.paradoxa. 36. 13-21.