10 minutes with Movement Artist - Anna Dako
“I like to describe movement as a living dynamic, which develops best in processes of life-woven creative encounters and as the most insightful life guide.” Anna Dako
There has always been something pulling me north. I love the North. After I completed my second Masters in Dance and Somatic Wellbeing in England I was looking for a place to take my work further. I did not apply for any call until I saw Aberdeen, Scotland. It felt right, I applied for a doctoral scholarship at the University of Aberdeen and here I am. My longing for magnificent landscapes to move within came true, and I have been materializing my research on the relationship between human nature and the natural environment as well as its implications on health and wellbeing for the last three years. This is also how the somatic methodology of Felt Thinking in Movement came about, in the great outdoors.
What are you working on at the moment?
This autumn, I will be developing the creative practice-based methodology of how to feel / think in meditative movement in a locally-mapped project 12 Walks to Wellbeing while visiting the selected Nature Reserves in and around Aberdeen. During the walks I will be teaching about opening up to the nourishments of creative attunement with ourselves as facilitated by our embodied attention to the natural environment around, and how to access the many ways of working with simple movement techniques. It often starts within the breath. For the last walk in this series we will be visiting Banchory and the forested grounds of the local Drum Castle. It definitely is one of the special places, where my work on Felt Thinking started to take shape in my somatic arts practice. It will be fantastic to reconnect with those beginnings in late November.
How does somatic movement connect to art?
Ecosomatics is about connecting the inner experience of movement with the movement of the living world around us. To me, the way I perceive art relates to how sensitive I am to the creative processes that permeate that exchange. I have been trained in art history in my early education, but my ‘lived’ definition of art has definitely changed and broadened over the years of my professional work as a dance dramaturg, practitioner/researcher and an environmental artist. My somatic ways of following the depths of meaning in every-day life pulled me out of the theatres, out of the studios, and then out of the cities too. My contemporary dance commitments reshaped towards working with authentic processes of being and becoming, mainly outdoors. And I think it is in that felt authenticity of a precious moment that I find the real meaning of artistry, while being a living part of it every day. This is where, as I teach, our somatic sensitivity can guide us, towards an emphatic, even if momentary, appreciation of the little things in their awe-inspiring becoming. That is also what an open attention to the nature within and around us helps us discover, over and over again.
What is your earliest memory of art?
My earliest memory… I come from an artistic family with drawing, designing, music, singing, and other manual skills. Three moments come back to me from my childhood though, as I mentioned already art is nothing external to my everyday experience, but it comes as memorable instances that create lasting meaning in personal experience or deeply felt qualities that linger for a long time.
One, I remember losing a shoe during a solo ballet performance when I was just seven or so, and as I recall it now through my mother’s stories, I didn’t hesitate one moment before kicking the other shoe off the stage just to carry on dancing. Two, I remember the most special Chinese fountain pen given to me, which I felt brought the furthest world closer to me at such a young age. And three, I remember waking up to the sounds of sheep every summer day, as I was living next to an open field where sheep were brought from the mountains to graze and maintain the grass for the local field planes. I suppose all those moments come together now in the many stories and works I have written about movement and dance.
What work of art do you wish you created?
Tough one. I generally do not refer to my work as art. It becomes that only when seen as such by others. For me, creating is all about meaningful conversations. They just need to happen.
What elements of your work connect with or are inspired by nature and the environment?
My work, either filmed, written or performed, starts with residing at specific places outdoors. I love to do a lot of location scouting, and a lot of that happens just over random visits, walks or hiking trips as well. I love to return to such places, and ponder in reflective movement there, letting the place speak through the process itself. I often leave the meaning of such encounters very open too, without trying to over-interpret things. I just know that part of me gives something to the site I visit and the site will carry on its presence within me as well. And that nourishment often becomes more important than any artistic result.
What does nature mean in your day to day life?
Being outdoors means living the real life to me. I chase my kids outdoors the moment I see any daily opportunity, which, in Aberdeen, often means catching the morning sun! Spending time hiking, playing at the dunes, running with our dog, or just walking and giving names to the trees on our paths are one of our favourite things to do. We live on the outskirts, where it takes just 5 minutes’ walk to find a lovely embrace of the forests and the Aberdonian views of landscapes cradled between the mountains and the sea. I grew up waiting for good weather to take a walk, as a standard, yet these days I appreciate all weather! Finding inspiration in the rain is so easy.
How do you know when a work is finished?
Oh, does one ever? I think time decides itself, really, which translates into a feeling about it. Or maybe the work is just done with me when it feels complete, haha. Either way, it always takes two to create something, and only one to go a different way…
What music inspires your practice?
Oh, that’s easy. I grew up on soul, R&B and some smooth jazz. I adore open melodies, and earthy, playful rhythms. A lot of it grows into pop these days, which makes me smile a lot, as I grew up feeling completely at odds with common rock or pop of the 80’s and 90’s. Most of the time though, I just open a window and listen… while I move. I have trees literally growing into my study windows too, in Kingswells. A green bliss filled with melodies, chirp and chatter.