Estelle Olivier

Tracking the fragments of meaning making:  Critical reflections of the choreographer-facilitator on the collaborative process of devising Ontwrig

As an artist unaccustomed to working with trauma as foundational theme this paper will share my process of deconstruction and reconstruction on devising Ontwrig, a collaborative PaR performance work.

The narratives and fragments unearthed during this creative process stemmed from the (diverse) performers’ personal perspectives on trauma and (post)apartheid South Africa.  Positioned as choreographer-facilitator, performer and researcher in this process, I have post-production become concerned with the stories still untold; non-dominant narratives and the process of finding them. I question how and why we as artists, have or should select and present stories; fragments; imaginings related to trauma? How does the artistic purpose, process and framing influence the way in which we (re)search to find them? How might one effectively include plural voices to reflect complexity without compromising individual integrity?

My reflections will focus on choosing (dominant) narrative(s); a collaborative process that include plural voices and (self) censoring.

Ontwrig (2015) meaning to disrupt or disjoint was a Practise as Research (PaR) performance project investigating performing objects and trauma in Post-Apartheid South Africa. It forms part of a larger bilateral research project between Stellenbosch University Drama Department and Ghent University S:PAM and is funded by the NRF (South Africa) and FWO (Belgium).

Estelle Olivier
is currently a fulltime lecturer in Movement and Physical Theatre at Stellenbosch University Drama Department, South Africa.  She holds a BMus in Dance degree (UCT) and a Masters in Drama focussing on physical Theatre(US).  She also works as a freelance performer and choreographer and has choreographic experience in various genres ranging from Children’s, Musical, Community, Dramatic and Physical Theatre.  Her latest choreographic works include award winning macbeth.slapeloos (Aardklop 2013, KKNK & Grahamstown Festival 2014 & Baxter Theatre 2015) directed by Marthinus Basson and Ontwrig (Woordfees & Cape Town Fringe 2015) with Petrus du Preez. Her primary research focus is on investigating the role of the choreographer-facilitator working with diverse performing bodies.  Secondly, developing methods and mechanisms of choreographing performers without formal dance training.