Falling into Weighted Time

Entwining Dance & Health

Falling into Weighted Time

(in development)

Experience a moment of Collapsing while Conscious where boundaries between wakefulness and dreams blur. A delicate shift between strength and surrender. A world of Cataplexy (a symptom of Type 1 Narcolepsy) when time slows down, gravity intensifies and boundaries of perception expand.

‘Falling into Weighted Time’ tells an intimate story of how one dancer found a silver lining in the face of a failing body. When medicine no longer had answers she turned to the support of a dance bungee. Entwining a foundation in Middle Eastern dance with audio description, autobiographical narrative and audience interaction, she presents dance as power and purpose. Leaving an appreciation of the body’s knowledge and that cultivating deeper connections with our physical selves enhances all qualities of life.

About the New Work

A solo Contemporary Middle Eastern dance by Dr Laura (Amara) Osweiler.

The work is an opportunity for Laura as an artist with disability working in a CaLD dance to share her story of Collapsing while Conscious. Stemming from living with Narcolepsy Type 1 (a neurological sleep disorder) and one of its symptoms, Cataplexy (when the body goes into REM stage while my mind is awake) and Hypo-arousal, a symptom of C-PTSD (when the body shuts down).

Laura focuses on the importance of body knowledge and ways to use dance and creativity to manage chronic illnesses. She uses her body’s experiences of these episodes to create choreography and dance and then applies that material into her Middle Eastern dance foundation and creative practice.

This work brings up themes of Crip Time and Crip Energy (terms to indicate when someone faces barriers due to not living/working in society’s typical sense of time), interruption and disruption, types of memory, forms of consciousness and perceptions of the self.

She interweaves dance, grounded aerial dance bungee, lighting, music, audio description, autobiographical narrative and audience interaction to tell her story and bring people deeper into the work.

Audience Sharing Comments

You bring the ephemeral essense of dance to another level – you are present with these issues and performing.

– Sonia York-Pryce | Interdisciplinary Artist | Dr. Visual Arts

Laura showed us that Narcolepsy fight is far from over as well as the fact that Narcolepsy can be fought with. She used a very new form of visual description and dance therapy…. Her efforts to provide a dance module and interventions for Narcoleptics will raise more awareness on the adversities that Narcoleptics face on a daily basis as well as globally.

– Niloufar Heshmati Manesh
Researcher in Dance and Narcolepsy

I found the way you combined Middle Eastern dance with self-care practices to be fascinating. It made for a uniquely interesting style of movement. It was great to see the movement and understand how you came to it

– Richard Cilli | Rehearsal Director | Sydney Dance Company

Laura is such a unique artist and her area of cataplexy body movements and education components need to be shared with the dance sector and arts & science sector on a state, national and international level.

– Audience Member

Laura was very generous with her time and welcomed an open dialogue regarding her practice. It was a real privilege to see Laura perform, and I appreciated that time was made to create a safe and respectful environment for the performance to take place.

– Marsha Canning | Museum and Gallery Officer | Hurstville Museum & Gallery

I enjoyed Laura using the equipment and watching her fight the cataplexy and then also her beautiful smooth body movements and then pulsating body movements.

– Audience Member

I love how succinctly you were able to capture the relationship between the arts (dance) and health and that you so openly share your experience of disability, describing your own access needs. Not only does it normalise access and inform others not intersecting with the disability community to understand, but it creates a space where everyone regardless of disability status can benefit from being able to identify and express their own access needs, it makes for a much kinder world- to self and others.

– Casey Gray | Independent Artist

I was so moved and inspired by how Laura has taken her personal experience and challenges to her well-being, and have not only embraced everything as part of who she is, but have graciously, proudly, and bravely invited us all in by creating this dance piece.

– Rena Orenstein | Retired Public Health Professional

I really appreciated your direct engagement with your audience throughout. I particularly enjoyed learning one of your movements and getting a sense of your movement language through the experience of my own moving body.

– Alex Craig | Independent Artist

I just couldn’t help but feel there’d be amazing broader applications of taking it to people outside the disability community so they can really get a sense of what it’s like. And even as a person within the disability community, I certainly appreciate trying to understand other kinds of experiences of other people with disability. I’ve got goosebumps.

Casey Hagan | Independent Artist

I liked the way Laura guided us through what felt like a meditative state that focussed on any body part and how I could fully invested my mind, energy and time into that body part, asking it what it felt like, hot, warm or cold, firm, bouncy or soft, stretching it or confining it. I actually enjoyed it.

– Audience Member

It was interesting to see the process from the inside and to have a better understanding of how Laura experiences the world and how she is using her practice to share her experience with the audience. Looking forward to seeing how this work develops.

– Audience Member

Donate to help support the creation of this new work.

Contact Laura to discuss productions, community development projects and workshops.

Creative Team

Laura Osweiler | Dancer, Choreographer, Script
Paul Osborne | Lighting Designer
Imogen Yang | Audio Description & Script Consultant
Aleisa Jelbart | Costume Designer
Sarah Houbolt | Audio Description Consultant

Click the title below to learn more about each residency.

AusDance NSW DAIR | Creative Development

During this creative development Dr Laura Osweiler worked with Imogen Yang (audio description consultant). They explored how AD and information about Middle Eastern dance, Laura’s personal dance practice and Narcolepsy can be developed into a script. Laura also worked with Paul Osborne about the structure, script and lighting design.

In the sharing, Laura presented several choreographic practices that she is using to develop the new work and tested audience activities found in the dance and for future workshops and group development projects.

This project is supported by Ausdance NSW’s DAIR program and the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Video | Sharing | 23 June 2023

Closed captioned. Time code below video.

Time Code

00: Introduction: Audio description, Acknowledgement of Country, Thank you to Ausdance NSW, Create NSW & ACPE
3.45: Introduction to work done with collaborators: Imogen Yang & Paul Osborne
5.00: Introduction to sharing
6,00: Exercise 1 | Knee Shimmy & Cataplexic Knee Collapses
19.15: Exercise 2 | Internal Exploration of Health
25.00: Exercise 3 | ‘Nirvana’ State
35:00 Wrap up

March Dance 2023 | Creative Development

During her 2023 March Dance Residency, Laura expanded on the theme of Collapsing while Conscious to include hypo-arousal a symptom of C-PTSD (when the body shuts down after a hyper-arousal state (fight or flight)).

She continued developing the dance’s structure, a script which threads together audio description, verbal description and autobiographical information, audience engagement and lighting design with Paul Osborne.

Video | 2nd Half of Sharing | 16 March 2023

Laura explored narrating the script before each movement section.

Closed captioned. Time code below video.

Time Code

.00: Narrative | Harness 4.20: Dance | Harness
16.25: Narrative | Collapsing while conscious degrees
18.30: Nirvana | Audience Engagement
23.00: Narrative | Arms
25.20: Dance | Arms

Critical Path 2022 | Research Residency

During her 2022 Critical Path Research Residency, Laura worked with producer and director Paul Osborne and international circus and physical theatre performer and audio describer consultant Sarah Houbolt. She unpacked the physical experiences of her phases of Cataplexy, where muscles release and the mind and body are on different parts of the spectrum of awake and asleep.

Laura explored movements that supported her management of episodes, the dance bungee as an apparatus of support, phases within episodes as inspiration for the dance’s structure, music and lighting as ephemeral voices that embrace the movements’ meaning, how to integrate audio description, personal descriptions and autobiographical material into a text and audiences activities.

Video | Sharing | 31 Aug 2022

This sharing was an opportunity for Laura to test and present many ideas and concepts from her research. The video captured the very early stages of a work in process.
Closed captioned. Time code below video.

Time Code

00: Acknowledgement of Country
1.25: Audio description of space & Laura
2.00: Thank you to Critical Path Team & collaborators (Paul Osborne, Sarah Houbolt & Tobii Bucknell
3.00: Intro to sharing
3.50: Intro to visual description exercise
4.30: Internal visual description exercise with audience
9.20: External visual description exercise with audience
15.20: Awake Dance | Upbeat & Energised
17.00: Awake Dance | Strength
18.30: Cataplectic Knee Release & Middle Eastern Dance Knee Shimmies Connection
20.30: Audience Chooses my Adventure | Should I show how I fight or accept catapeltic episodes? They choose fight.
21.10: Ankle Harness Walk | My List of Triggers
23.30: Ankles in Dance Bungee Harness | Facts About Narcolepsy
32.50: Story About Walking in Public with a Mild Catapeltic Episode
35.20: Harness & the Box | If the World Took Siestas
37.45: Harness| Slow Weighted
30.30: Harness | Twinkle Toes
41.20: Harness | Large Circles
43.50: Harness | Small and Low
45.15: Harness | Held & Slides
48.30: Nirvana Moment in Deep Catapeltic Episode
56.50: Arms in Harness | Swing & Slide
58.50: Arms in Harness | Accents and Releases
1.01: Discussion with Audiences

Social Media Posts

Creative Development Residency Support

Create NSW for Ausdance NSW’s DAIR 2023 Program

Ausdance NSW 2023 DAIR Program @ACPE

Accessible Arts’ 2023 Next Level Program @Sydney Dance Company

Dance March Festival 2023, Critical Path, City of Sydney

Accessible Arts’ 2023 Front and Centre Program

Research Residency Support

Critical Path 2022

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