La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day 

. . . informing itself about the palpable quiddity of things (Lévinas, 2013, p. 76).




Watch this blog space! We will upload images, thoughts, notations during the three-week residency, August 7th-28th, 2018!


Lévinas, E. (2013). Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (A. Lingis, Trans.). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press.


"Non ci piove" / it doesn't rain on it [no doubt about it]


Coffee. View from our window. Beauty. Church bells ring the time. Water runs a rhythm. More coffee. Mountains kiss the clouds. Three dance artists listen. 

Green. Fragrant.


Listen. Talk. What will the water say? We ask and will be asking: 

  1. How might the water make choreographic decisions for the body?
  2. How does the experience of water shaping the body change the body?
  3. How might we invite audience engagement with the water as choreographer/director?


Bellissimo, non ci piove.  



* Photography of Sottochiesa, Italy, by Lucinda Coleman, 2018, reprinted witih permission. 


"While it is right for the imagination to come to support weakness of vision, it must be immediate and direct like the gaze that kindles it. " (Calvino, 1999, p.37).


The larger picture invites humility, silence, contemplation. . . an awareness of our inadequacies which ignites grace, not guilt. The context frames and invokes new thoughts: shy, tentative, hesitant, the strength of imagination is the hopeful expectation of small gestures to colour the skyline. We are lit by flashes of sun and reflections of green scratchings on slopes, dwarfed by massive rock faces. Our place in the world is small. Listen to the gurgling river throughout the quiet dark nights. Closed eyes: hear an undulating melody of love tumbling as it ricochetes from stone to pebble to boulder. The lyrics are clear only in dreams as sonorous tones sing dreamers to sleep. This liquid life demands responsiveness to unspoken heart songs. 

Shall we talk about practice? With our ankles in the water, or fully submerged? Will we choke on water, gurgle and splutter; are we bashed and bedraggled, gasping for air? Shall we be shaped by currents, creating new forms? 



* Photography of Sottochiesa, Italy, 2018, by Ellen Avery. Reprinted with permission. 



Calvino, I. (1999). Mr Palomar (W. Weaver, Trans.). London, U.K.: VIntage.



"The creative processes employed when experiencing and interacting with the site and the work itself required the individuals involved to be wholly present in the space, engaged and aware of the transactions occurring in the moment" (Hunter, 2005, p. 380). 


W H O L L Y   P R E S E N T :  W H O L L Y  U N E X P E C T E D . . . 





Hunter, V. (2005). Embodying the Site: the Here and Now in Site-Specific Dance Performance. New Theatre Quarterly, 21(4), 367-381. Doi:      10.1017/s0266464x05000230.1017/S0266464X1100030


". . . look at the scars of the earth: the fjords, the falls, the canyons, once deep wounds in the skin of our planet now the best of what we adore. & the old city with its worn walls - how many children has it raised? how many eyes have seen beauty & history there? i've never heard a cathedral complain about the cracks in its side. . ." (Torri Horness)


In Sottochiesa, under the church, in the heat of the sun, we walk up the hill. Dappled light, patterns green and slate; swaying with gentle mountain winds. We puff as we hike, listening to burbling streams hidden beneath delicate ground flora. The clang of cowbells and ancient church chimes create rhythm and pace. We taste the water and breathe in the scent of basilico, gelsomino, ciclomeno along the way. Our sense of curiosity ignites questions about who lives in the stone cottages. What is the nonna basking in the sun, with curlers in her hair, saying as she offers conversation in Italiano? Buona giornata, smile the faces. We have one chance to go from here to there; here and now. 

Come with us. 


*Image of Pizzino, Italy, taken by Ellen Avery, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 



Horness, T. Stained Glass. Retrieved from 



"Earth laughs in flowers" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


Walking in the rain, we are searching: searching for the grotta hidden behind the Salzana church, searching for taleggio cheese, searching for meaning. We didn't find the cheese or the grotta. Unexpected discoveries evoked deeper questions about underground rivulets, rushing torrents, and the sacred waters of the region. We are inquisitive but cautious; unwilling to trespass on private land. Thirstily, we drink from ice-cold mountain streams. Carefully, we navigate pathways slick with sudden rain. We pick rosemary and later add to farfalle pasta with lemon, parmesan, onion and good local olive oil. Salute, clink the glasses of Sangiovese. Mountain mists gather in volumious shapes and descend into the valley, searching. 

Together, we are searching. 

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*Photos of Val Taleggio, Italy, taken by Ellen Avery & Katie Chown, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 



Emerson, R.W. Hamatreya. Retrieved from: 



“mixed mode practices ‘themselves’ better theorise. . . than do expert or explanatory registers of writing” (Melrose, 2006, p. 122)

0km - Sottochiesa: The intrepid trio fasten sturdy shoes, collect cameras and water bottles and embark on the quest to locate acqua rosso (red water). The path from Soggiorno Mazzoleni climbs the shaft of a valley mountain, emerging through overhanging foliage into the light. Having recovered breath in the body, the expectant trio seek direction to the town of Vedeseta. With hopeful steps, each one strides purposefully along the strada (street) and falls into step with an Italian couple exploring the Val Taleggio. Laughter accompanies halting exchanges in languages which taste unfamiliar on the tongue. 

“Dove fromaggi?” asks the Australian.

“Cheese?” responds the Italian.

“Si! Fromaggi path?” 

“Si, very nice cheese: this building, there is the cheese factory”, responds the smiling eyes.

2km - Cooperative San Antonio (cheese factory): Strachitunt is a type of gorgonzola from the region and each naïve Aussie tilts a head in respect for the tipico Cheese of the Valley. However, unable to linger, the cheese is farewelled in favour of the quest for acqua rosso. The road meanders through the heart of vibrant green mountains laced with misty rainclouds. Delicate apple trees dip towards sunlit vines; walls of stacked timber and bound hay bales frame the boundaries of farmlands. The trio pause as one snaps a photo of soaring mountains beyond honking geese and crowing roosters.

“Ciao! Ciao”, laughs the farmer, pointing at his goats and geese and gesturing to the camera.

“Non, non: bellissimo vista!” defends the photographer.

“Si, si! Molto bello!” he nods, as he calls to his goats, clucking in the gap where his teeth used to be.

4km - Vedeseta: Around the bend, a tiny village appears, nestled in the crevice of elegant stonework and floral beauty. A tall church tower with ancient bells rises from the centre and the thought of an espresso in the bustling town spurs on the adventurous three. Down the cobbled streets, past the sacre water fountain and directly to the café, coffees are gratefully consumed and the darkening sky carefully noted.

“Which way to the acqua rosso, perfavore?” is the inquiry, as the cups are collected.

“Turn right at the statue and follow the sign to Sorgente del Enna. But it is going to rain soon”, warns the wise Veronica.

8km - acqua rossa: Undeterred by the warning signs, energised by espresso, the quest for acqua rosso leads further down, and deeper in, to the Valle Brembano. The 30 minute walk lengthens to over an hour, as clouds bank up beyond the sheer rock faces over-looking winding pathways treacherous for the drop to the Enna River below. A sudden howl alerts the companions of angry yellow wasps, now disturbed and vigorously attacking two of the three walkers. 

“Are you okay?”

“Don’t touch anything!”

“Is it much further, do you think?”

“My arm stings and is tingling up across my back now!”

“Maybe we missed the turn-off . . .”

Determination fuels the weary travellers. The winding path sees the three descend towards cascading waters, desperately seeking the elusive acqua rosso. Two bridges span waterfalls endlessly singing as droplets are tossed across glistening stones. Gently, the path leads the explorers further up and alongside the endless river and the moment before they agree to turn back, there it is: the acqua rosso drizzling from a pipe wedged in rock stained rusty-orange. The red water mingles with the Enna streams and is swept into the Valley, leaving traces of iron ore on rock and leaves. The adventurers drink the metallic red water, thick with taste of chilled iron filaments. 

12km - Vedeseta: Triumphant, they turn to retrace steps to Vedeseta. Uneasy shadows gather as the darkening paths, suddenly sinister, echo with thunder rumbling above. The first rain-drops are light, caressing the skin. Then lightening explodes in tandem with thunder; a rolling crescendo puncturing sky-lights. The delicate drops begin slapping the skin, re-bounding from mud-puddles along slippery pathways. Darkness descends as the rain sheets from heavens ripped open and icy, relentless and cold. Wet-through, they stumble, licking rainwater from lips and swiping back hair sticking to eyelashes. The hail is swift, like a barrage of pebbles and the bedraggled forms suddenly cease to look human. Immersed in the downpour, each dancing shape soaks up the rain. There is no alternative but to succumb: to be liquid, and light, in the cold rainy night.  


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 * Photos of Val Taleggio, Italy, taken by Ellen Avery & Lucinda Coleman. Reprinted wiith permission, 2018. 


Melrose, S. (2006). ‘Constitutive ambiguities’: writing professional or expert performance practices, and the Théâtre du Soleil, Paris. In J. Kelleher & N. Ridout (Eds.), Contemporary Theatres in Europe A critical companion(pp. 120-135). London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.



"Performing in place brings to the fore the nature of inhabitation: what it means to live in/with a place, and what it means to be inhabitated by a place." (McAuley, 2006, p.17)


The beauty of our river location belies danger and poses a genuine threat to safety. The place demands careful negotiation: beware the jagged rocks beneath waters moving with unexpected force. We observe the patterns of light in the foaming dance on rock, on dirt, on tree branches–and seek to embody the patterns of place in a moment of suspended time. As site-practitioners, we are alert, responsive and patient.

The water moves, distorting our shapes: directing our part in the dance.


* Video of Katie Chown in Val Taleggio, Italy, 2018, by Lucinda Coleman. Used with permission.


McAuley, G. (Ed.) (2006). Unstable Ground Performance and the Politics of Place. Bruxelles, Belgium: Oxford.   




La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: OTTO/EIGHT

“. . . all partners need to recognise the limits which the existence of a rules-bound system imposes on any attempt to archive material requiring a rich meta-narrative, derived through collaborative intervention, if its complexities are to be understood by an eventual user” (Melrose, 2007, p. 21).


Today we approached site-specific, immersive, collaborating devising in a section of the Enna River in Sottochiesa, Italy. Thinking about spaces transitioned to doing in spaces: a gritty, challenging task for dancers used to neat, square studio places. The intention was to respond authentically to the sounds and movement of a body of water, constantly in flux and flow. This attempt was limited at times by our own choreographic habits, by the desire to protect the body from harm, by the disruptions caused by filming, the limitations of our bodies, and by the complexities of individual approaches to generating dance material in a ‘rules-bound system’. Our deep yearning to create dance (not just moving phrases) through heightened sensitivity to the environment required a deeper interrogation of what is dance, how we might make such dance collectively in response to a site, and what is the role of the camera in curating these raw and fledgling attempts at site-specific dance-making?




*Documentation of dancers Lucinda Coleman & Katie Chown filmed by Ellen Avery in Sottochiesa, Italy, 2018. Used with permission. 



Melrose, S. (2007). "Still Harping On (About Expert Practitioner-Centred Modes of Knowledge and Models of Intelligibility)" Paper presented at the AHDS Summer School: Digital Representations of Performing Arts, National e-Science Centre, Edinburgh.



La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: NOVE/NINE

". . . unlike in traditional studio-based approaches to dance-making the ever present site stimulus necessitates a constant process of review" (Hunter, 2005, p.375).



*  Documentation of Ellen Avery & Lucinda Coleman filmed by Katie Chown in Sottochiesa, 2018,  Used with permission. 


Hunter, V. (2005). Embodying the Site: the Here and Now in Site-Specific Dance Performance. New Theatre Quarterly, 21(4), 367-381. Doi: 10.1017/s0266464x05000230.1017/S0266464X1100030

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: DIECI/TEN

". . . devising is a collaborative methodology. . . " (Shaughnessy, 2012, p.10)


We began the day carrying glass objects to a remote location for an art installation. Five NAHR fellows trekked through mud and along cobbled paths, balancing containers of glass art materials with furtive glances at towering mountains and green surrounds. Our new friend and colleague had stumbled across a derelict stone building: the perfect location for her art installation. We delighted in sharing her discovery and eagerly discussed the final installation performance. After drinking from the town fountain, we returned to our apartment to make lunch together: fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella salad. Our conversation became an undulating melody of collective negotiation and decision-making. We agreed to pack up and spend time devising dance material in the local Enna River. Later, another new NAHR friend joined us, bringing her camera, her ideas, and her gentle smiles to create new work together. Her perspective as a cinematographer and film-maker enabled us, as dancers, to fully focus on responding to site while she gave direction, encouragement and advice from behind the camera. After a productive afternoon dancing in the river-water, the entire group of NAHR residents gathered together in our apartment to share a meal and farewell one of our NAHR colleagues whose time for departure had arrived. We laughed, talked, ate, drank, discussed, debated, considered and encouraged each other: altogether. The making of art objects is the work of an international residency; the collaboration with others encourages us to achieve excellent outcomes in the work of our international residency.




Shaughnessy, N. (2012). Applying Performance live art, socially engaged theatre and affective practice. London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. 

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: UNDICI/ELEVEN

. . . call, answer, and release. . . (Majozo, in Allen, 2005, p.105)


This unedited footage invites consideration of human bodies moving through the Enna river system as bodies of water.



* Documentation of dancers Ellen Avery, Katie Chown & Lucinda Coleman taken in Sottochiesa, Italy, 2018 by Cassandra Celestin, used with permission. 


Allen, P. (2005). Art is a Spiritual Path. Shambala Publications: Boston & London. 

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: DODICI/TWELVE

“Only a being obsessed with impossible/unsolvable problems can make a breakthrough in possible knowledge” (Zizek, 2004, p. 139).


The sun is yet to emerge from the banked clouds overhead. Like little black lizards, the dancers mould their skins to sculptured rock beds. The camera breathes on the belly of one of the sleeping forms awaiting a solar cue. There is little to be done while waiting for the light to shadow dancing shapes in the cascading waterfalls. The environment determines perspective and the dancers’ task is one of patient observation and response. The thundering, rushing of water dominants the delicate singing of wind and flutter of insects. In waiting for nature’s invitation to join the dance, human beings are led to respond intuitively: exploring with all the senses of the body. Fingers grip grey sloped rock as ten toes lengthen: feeling, exploring, reaching, inquiring . . .

Perhaps it is an impossible task to capture the essence of water, endlessly moving and shape-shifting under the brooding sky?




Zizek, S. (2004). Organs without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences: Routledge.

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: TREDICI/THIRTEEN

“Goodness is always older than choice” (Lévinas, 2013, p. 57).


Our collaboration continued today with two other NAHR fellows in the local Enna River. Our challenges continued as we worked with movement phrases under the sun, and in the water. Our delight increased as the collaborating artists offered suggestions for filming dance material, enriching the experience of site-specific choreographic development. Our joy was matched by intensity of focus as we sought to craft artistic material with integrity and commitment to aesthetic excellence. Our day ended with a bus trip to a nearby town, where we continued our conversations over exceptional Italian food and wine, reflecting on the events of the day. Our experiences were no doubt unique to each individual; yet we have this day in common. Our choices involved working together for this moment in time: to respond to the goodness of something far deeper and greater than anything we could manufacture in the length of our residency. Our time together is coming to an end, but has left residual traces under the skin, in the marrow of the bone, and in the way we approach other artistic projects in the future . . .



*Image of Ellen Avery, Luisa Brando & Lucinda Coleman taken on site in Sottochiesa, Italy, 2018, by Katie Chown. Used with permission. 



Lévinas, E. (2013). Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (A. Lingis, Trans.). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press.

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: QUATTORDICI/FOURTEEN

“touch is an aspect of knowledge production” - Fiona Bannon and Duncan Holt (2012, p. 1)


In reflecting on the experiences of collaborative site work, we each have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have time and space to do the artistic work. We are thankful to be working with other creative artists, in the water, with multiple camera lens inviting new perspectives on dance movement responsive to water, rock, sun and foliage. As we focus in the moment, we hear new ideas for camera angles, and embrace suggestions for the construction of dance material. We discover a collaborative groove: listening, observing, doing, reflecting, suggesting, embracing, questioning, analysing, evaluating. 

The space is activated through touch, leaving traces  . . .






Bannon, F., & Holt, D. (2012). Engaging with touch: Transformative learning in dance. In S. W. Stinson, C. Svendler Neilsen, & S.-Y. Liu (Eds.), Dance, young people and change: Proceedings of the daCi and WDA Global Dance Summit. Taiwan, July 14th – 20th 2012: Taipei National University of the Arts.

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: QUINDICI/FIFTEEN

“Oh, the places you’ll go . . . “ – Dr. Seuss

Okay, allora; this is a sneak peek of a process that is difficult, dirty and filled with uncertainty. After the second take (not worth showing), we confer, discuss, talk about lunch, laugh, and agree to the third take. We grapple with things that can be refined, as it becomes clear there are things that can’t be controlled. This documentation of our site-dance is work-in-progress, unpolished and pebbly. If you have stayed with us this far, we thank you (and hit us up for a free Myanmar Card Pack, as we still have some left from our last international project)!

If you want to see this, watch it. If not, still watch it.




Seuss, Dr. (1990). Oh, the places you’ll go! New York: Random House.

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: SEDICI/SIXTEEN

“I don’t think we can just decontextualize gestures and movement. The question is how it is contextualised” (Butler, 2016, p. 1). 


Towards the end of our dance residency, we take stock: reviewing footage, cataloguing images . . . and we consider how to contextualise movement so that audience engagement might be activated. For 16 days we have explored river spaces, responding with bodies and cameras; expressing and embracing the water-y systems. For 16 days, we have asked each other questions . . . 

How does it feel? What do you see? How does the water move? How do you move? And how do you feel?



* Image taken by Ellen Avery in Sottochiesa, Italy, 2018. Used with permission.  



Butler, J. (2016). Trump is emancipating unbridled hatred. Zeit Online. Retrieved from

La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: DICIASSETTE/SEVENTEEN

R e f l e c t i n g   t o d a y . . . 


day 17

*Image of water in Sottochiesa, Italy, taken by Katie Chown, 2018. Used with permission. 



La goccia del giorno/The drop of the day: DICIOTTO/EIGHTEEN


Progetto Culaccini 

Culaccini, sviluppa un movimento di danza site-specific in risposta alle acque della Val Tallegio. L'intenzione è quella di rispondere al sistema del fiume Enna documentando il movimento di danza fatto nella regione attraverso film, fotografia e scrittura riflessiva. Questo processo di ricerca guidato dalla pratica è stato condiviso quotidianamente sul blog: La goccia del giorno. Alla fine della residenza, un testo di ricerca e un cortometraggio di danza approfondiranno ulteriormente la natura della danza site-specific in acqua e la nozione di ciò che costituisce la "danza" in questo contesto. Nel nostro viaggio di scoperta della danza dell'acqua, i segni unici rimangono l'uno sull'altro, il sito e le cose che abbiamo fatto, come le tracce di un vessello d'acqua: i culaccini. La danza fatta in questo contesto è stata immersiva e focalizzata; costruita per invitare l'interpretazione attraverso l'uso di simbolismo e immagini.

* Italian translation by Ilaria Mazzoleni



* Image of Ellen Avery, Katie Chown & Lucinda Coleman taken by Ellen Avery in Pizzino, Italy, 2018. Used with permission. 

FINI: With Thanks

At the close of our Nature, Art, Habitat Residency, we leave with things finished, and unfinished.

There is much that has shaped us, and much that will continue to shape us as we reflect, write, make, review, evaluate and follow-through with our post-NAHR tasks.

Stay tuned for the release of our short dance film and scholarly journal article: reflections of our time spent in residence. Our deepest gratitude is extended to Ilaria Mazzoleni and the NAHR team who made our residency possible. Grazie!

We remain thankful for this moment of time spent in residence in beautiful Sottochiesa, Italia.


Thank you!


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