The Movement of Crows

13 / 06 / 2023

Some thoughts about movement:
In a very literal way, the movement part of the performance experiment, or the movement part of The Crowboy could be inspired by the movements of crows.

This could, of course, be far too literal and awful. Like, dancing around on stage in a bad crow costume (see here) and flapping my arms like wings, saying ‘cawww cawww’.

Actually, on second thoughts, that sounds kind of amazing-awful. There is something wonderful about doing the obvious thing that can make for a really uncomfortable watching experience from an audience. Like:

‘Is this for real?’

‘Is this functioning on an ironic level I don’t understand?’

‘Is this really bad taste or really joyful?’

‘Or both?’

I quite like taking an audience to that place. I mean, there has to be a commitment and a quality to the performance over all, or none of the multi-level doubts and experiences can be accessed. It will just feel poor quality. But if you can establish a performance where the audience trusts you, where they can see you have worked and they can see you are engaging with, and engaging them with, questions that matter in a straightforward and honest way, then a moment of really gauche literalism can be breathtakingly refreshing and very very funny. And actually access an emotional layer that is very valuable.

It can catapult us into a place of sharing together that gets beyond appraisal and just into being more open and honest. So, it can leave behind the analytical brain that wants to appraise the work. It can let go of the fear that we are being duped or taken for naive, or that we aren’t educated enough, or cool enough. It can relax the audience into a place of being. 

That sounds very wanky, and this is more stream of consciousness than thought through analysis, but that’s kind of the point. What happens if we are unafraid to be wanky and obvious and joyful and gauche and awkward? 

The performer can do all that by proxy for the audience.

Anyway. This was supposed to be the simple preamble to me making a list of things that crows do, or the way they behave. It’ll be a short list now as I only have fourteen minutes left for this work session. Here we go:

1) Foraging — head down, eyes on the ground, ‘hands behind the back’, picking through the grass for worms and dog poop.

2) Bellowing — sitting on a tree branch and cawing as loudly as possible. The throat is distended and the feathers there stick out like spines or bristles. The whole body rocks back and forth with the effort of the sound being produced through the wide-open beak. 

3) Playing — rocketing from tree branch to tree branch with another crow. Looking like wind-blown litter. Spiralling and dropping from branch to branch.

4) Gyring — a big group of us, flying in circles just above the ground, making noise. We cycle and cycle until we reach some sort of signal, or some sort of climax, and a group of us peel away to our roosts for the night. The rest of us slowly settle and rest until the next gyre.

5) Parliamenting — between gyres we occupy a space where we network and where we form and unform alliances. We patrol and we quibble. Sometimes we fly up a metre, no more, into the air and land again. We are noisy.

6) Chasing hawks — we spiral and flip, we peck and jab, we bully and cajole. 

7) Roosting — we line up on branches like ash clinging to a branch, like inverted lichen.