Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Medical students Kitty Hardman and Sophie Fitzsimmons reflect on An Anatomie in Four Quarters

The performance, like Tuesday's conversation, challenged the subject of perception. After each quarter we increased our closeness to the performers and ended by being invited to walk amongst them as they danced on stage. In the beginning we saw how the dance developed from a singular foetal like body to a group dance with tribal aggression.  Moving down, and increasing our closeness, silence fell as the orchestra walked on, uniformed and ordered, they descended into the pit.  

The subsequent dance mirrored the development of a more controlled style. Moving seats again we were invited to sit surrounding what looked like an old dissection table, upon which the body of an outstretched woman lay. The singularity of her voice and song contrasted with the power of the numerous musicians in the orchestra and confounded the sense of her isolation and vulnerability. The performance finished with the audience seated on stage, looking upwards to the audience seating. We watched as the performers took their bow and the curtain fell on us.  

Within the doctor-patient relationship, it is always the clinician in control. In this experimental piece by Clod Ensemble the audience took on the part of the patient as we were directed and moved around the theatre; not knowing why, or really understanding what was going on. This is probably very similar to many patients’ experience in hospital. If the arts can teach us more on this, it might not only lead to better understanding and communication between clinician and patient but to a broader understanding on what it is like to have an illness.

I really look forward to see if the Inside Information and The Poetic Body workshops continue on theme of perception and hope that I might glean some skills, which I might be able to apply to my future studies and practice.

 - Kitty Hardman

I really didn’t know what to expect from An Anatomie In Four Quarters – however, I was hoping it would give me a new perspective on the body and human anatomy, and it did not disappoint in this respect.

The show was a varied display and exploration of the movements the human body is capable of – with a clever juxtaposition of the vibrant, warm, alive bodies of the dancers with the clinical or scientific ways of viewing the body (giant projections of x-rays showing various movements of the skeleton which the dancers mimicked; a beautiful ethereal scene with a singer singing mysterious words from a table at the bottom of the auditorium evoked the old anatomy theatres of the Enlightenment).

Throughout the show we moved ever closer to the dancers, finally ending up on the stage among the performers (my favourite part of the show) so we were actually able to walk among them and view their movements close up. Each dancer explored a unique set of actions, and it was fascinating to be able to watch the movements and body parts I had learned about in my anatomy classes in such an exciting setting.

The next event I’m going to will be the Inside Information workshop on Wednesday. It’s going to be another varied evening, and I’m really looking forward to being able to apply some anatomy both to a new clinical situation (anaesthetics) and also to my hobby of singing!

  - Sophie Fitzsimmons

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