The Stillness Project

Created for my Second Year Development Project at NSCD, The Stillness Project, grew from the idea of stillness and movement being conflicting ideas, to a rolling piece of work that attempts to encapsulate the nuances of each state.

“At the still point of the turning world.

Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.
But neither arrest nor movement.

And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.

Neither movement from nor towards
Neither ascent nor decline.

Except for the point, the still point
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance”

Eliot, T.S. (2014). Four Quartets. Orlando Florida: Harcourt Books. Pages 15 – 16


Initially, I began this project with the understanding that stillness only existed as an opposite to movement. That they were two definite and separate states with no crossover between the two. However, it seems more appropriate now to consider stillness as a fluid concept that falls as part of a much larger spectrum of what can be considered movement. Stillness and movement incorporate elements of each other- for nothing can really be truly still, whilst movement derives its tone from the pauses within it. Therefore, they exist not as two separate entities, but as a blurring between the two.

Through my research into Steve Paxton’s The Stand, and Eastern approaches to stillness in Yoga and Tai Chi I found that attention to what stillness creates can aid a more observant approach to moving. That in fact doing less and embracing stillness can lead to greater mindfulness within movement, for certainly we exist in a world dominated by perpetual movement. For instance, when practicing Paxton’s The Stand it requires a complete submittal to the idea. Tensing in order to find stillness is counter effective as creates this forced, and in some ways artificial stillness. For although we may appear ‘still’ the body is working hard and moving constantly to maintain the illusion. Relaxing and allowing The Small Dance to occur naturally, in comparison creates this state where the body is constantly slipping through the different rates of stillness. Thus, this relaxed playful exploration between movement and stillness is something I have tried to encapsulate within The Stillness Project.

Whilst in can be argued that pauses can cause a disruption to the flow of continuum, fracturing the flow of movement, they also- as I have come to discover- allow breathing space within the sometimes overwhelming movement that surrounds us.  “Stillness has no boundaries, no borders, and no conditions. Like the air we breathe stillness is all around us, a huge reservoir from which we can draw freely”[2].

Stillness has no boundaries, no borders, and no conditions. Like the air we breathe stillness is all around us, a huge reservoir from which we can draw freely

(The Stillness Project. (2003- 2014). The Practice. Available: Last accessed 21st June 2015)



PERFORMED BY: Karolina Szymańska

CHOREOGRAPHY: Charlotte Arnold in collaboration with Karolina Szymańska

MUSIC: Ĕtre, by Nicholas Jaar from the album Space is Only Noise                                               and Water Lake 1 sound effect from Final Cut Pro

With special thanks to Hannah Courtney and PianPian Li