Monday, February 25, 2019

naked bare (bear) pieces: music - and other "helpers"/facilitators/enzymes of/for movement

after a very long phase where works grew and still keep growing from and by interaction with set musical pieces, I am once more thrown back onto movement without this additional element. for a while, ongoing sounds like these healing drones felt especially good, and for training with others to them. but now even that should be off, for a time.

it feels almost like getting off drugs, because in my current state it is so easy to move in response to musical stimulation on all levels.

I had always made it my point to dance as a Gesamtkunstwerk, using my own bodymind as the core system, where all would come together, be perceived, worked with, each at its own intensity (in a way, following through on Elaine Summers' notion of intermedia, where two or more media merge to in-form a "third" ... )

but now I am returning to the sense that just my moving body is enough justification for the dance to be "legitimate", worth the effort and the attention. and that without the extra stimulus/happening, my bodymind can and will have some quite different things to do / "say", on its own.

additionally I also increasingly enjoy dancing naked (easy enough in my home backroom/studio)
again there is a similar feeling of bare openness of myriads subtle possibilities and chances.
finally, I recognize that -just as in the first phase of Kinetic Awareness® (echoing Viewpoints)- it can be good to slow everything down and explore one element / bodypart at a time. in this case the / my moving human bodymind, on its own, with only the co-incidental sounds that John Cage rightly identified as music.

and challenge the idea of a 'machine' with a limiting, and more safely expectable, outcome / result ...

on a similar plane, but not the same:

And this then began to bother me because perhaps I was getting drunk with melody [...] and so I began again. [...] That led me to some very differnt writing that I am going to tell you about in the next thing.  Gertrude Stein, from Portraits and Repetition, "Lectures in America", 1934

Monday, February 11, 2019

Budapest quotes

"Tradition ist Schlamperei" (tradition is sloppiness) - attributed to Gustav Mahler, no source

"if it ain't impossible to begin with, at the very least, it's not worth my time or attention" (unknown)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

understanding culture

translate for movement ... including emotions, body states, dealing with energy & dynamics in communicating from & with body states to one another

culture is creating shortcuts, patterns that can help to survive
whether it's on a level of growing cells into bones (for example) for translating gravity into movement, or a habit or an opinion. for training dance this insight is crucial.
I hope more dance professionals will grow into this understanding.

PS - keep in mind though ... ;-)

Friday, March 9, 2018

in response to Laura Shapiro's post "Reading and Writing and Dancing"

see the original post by Laura Shapiro here
responses published by kind suggestion & in communication with the author who is performing today, March 9th, 2018 *

[...] what is deemed language is multiple in "structures" (as in formations) and media, some of it expressed by use of vocal chords & visual abstractions made from those sound-patterns. But true literacy goes much further, known or unknown.

In my own view those who deem dance "non-verbal" actually are in danger to perpetuate what some call Kyriarchy (bell hooks calls it White Supremacist Imperialist Patriarchy for the culture-zone that you and I live with-in ... ) - because by implication they may negate the important kinaesthetic messages that are transferred, being body-states of all kinds.

To become literate in these body-languages is essential in becoming politically more able to act, so therefore it's also a question of (dis)empowerment, when people (still) do that - or when you get refused a job on an observation that for you is perfectly normal and clear.

[...] What I meant was that the more we are able to understand the signals and languages of our bodies, how they feel, the states they are in, and what is needed to do, we become more politically able as well, and have increased agency. But while for you it is clear that there is no actual division between mind and body, that they function as one system, others are shocked at such a statement.

It seems to me that in too many religions not only is a such division made, but what is relegated to 'the body' is all too often associated with negativity, such as sinfulness, low levels of existence, drives, inability etc.

I find these assumptions remarkably similar to how economically disempowered classes are seen, be they Women, (formerly) enslaved people, "lower classes", or even other animals:

- supposedly not able to deal rationally with themselves, thus needing 'higher guidance'
- deserving to be ruled, and above all disciplined for the general good, otherwise danger could ensue for a perceived (social, cosmic, or other kind of) order.

As choreographers, you and I and those who make poetry out of (human) movement, can communicate a better understanding of this system/continuum, where the created opposites of 'mind' and 'body' can be experienced working together.

I also believe that Elaine Summers and her work, and so many others (e.g. Anna Halprin) often met such resistance, because she would let her dancers speak their own language, rather than one already confined & accepted (e.g. based on forms of what is remembered as European-American classical Ballet)

There's actually a nice parallel in the German language for what I aim at: the word meaning 'mouthy' / 'with a mouth' ("mündig") means able & allowed to speak & express one's mind & views. Imagine if e.g. (cis)women (let alone trans-women) suddenly were allowed to freely speak their mind ... (let alone formerly enslaved people from African lands)


* Laura Shapiro is a New York-based choreographer, performer and teacher who has steadily continued to create and produce her own works for some decades by now. We met 1996 in Amsterdam at the Connected Bodies symposium at SNDO and have continued to be friends in professional exchange ever since then. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

ecolodances and A Love Supreme (new series..?)

after decolonization (Pelléas material / b.a.n.q.) and identity (medvetánc - degrees of (in)tangibility) i am feeling ready for a new series of dance that is freed up towards an ecological continuum and awareness with and in which to move.

paradoxically the music that I am drawn to can be described roughly as "Liberal Whitey Pleaser Pop/ular" : from a segue of the film-score by Stanley Meyers for the 1980s mini-series of The Martian Chronicles, to Rhythm of Life by Oleta Adams and Oh People! by Patti Labelle (maybe I'll even include Black or White by Michael Jackson ... ) - on the other end of the spectrum Ryuichi Sakamoto's NEO GEO which quotes and alters an Okinawan fisher-song and Balinese monkey-chanting, in an echo of post-colonial relations. despite their well-crafted and evocative sophistication, all of these works of music are essentially, and by today's standards, well-fitting with Bourgeois, well-measured, non-radical. they are also -let's face it- in danger of becoming consumable, and therfore disposable trash-culture, albeit each with a potential message that today may need to be taken more seriously than ever.

because the delivery is decidedly non-radical in tone, never hurtful, most employing a sandy yellow color in their respective videos, they may very well fit with an urgent need for less violence in the face of mounting ecological desaster for not only the human species.

the medium is ... the message?
despite these musical lenses for the dances, the internal messages are outcries, desperate, enraged, pleading, a push-back against too much careless and/or outdated verbiage that by-passes ecological understanding within or without.

similar to forms of tai ji quan, all movements are suspended in mid-air, with the spine gently tilted forward, never upright; the motions work with the entire kinesphere in an energetic sense, folding, condensing, contracting, releasing, dissipating etc. all body-parts are very involved, as is the gaze of the performer, usually centered, but receptive, listening, not outward; their acting intention, rhythms, shapes, subtle dynamics in-formation.

will I succeed to re-create the inner passion, deep emotion, connectedness, committment that the music mentioned above can evoke when I listen to it?

yesterday, Eurythmic therapist Kyra Flöcker, Jazz vocalist Ute Reinbott, and i worked on an exchange from our respective backgrounds. we explored musical intervals and how they felt in our bodies when moving with them in sound. interestingly I very often got resemblances with the Eurythmic teachings about each interval, which makes sense given that we kept firmly moving within a European-centered cultural zone for both of us.

for me it also was clear that the wider concerns of Eurythmics can lead to the needed ecological awareness that I believe is mandatory for a chance of further survival. the same ecological concern, but in a Socratic or even Zen-like tradition of not-assuming directly translates into the discipline of Kinetic Awareness® where the primary action is open listening.

for Kyra and myself, opening up ourselves to Jazz as a form of expression that we are familiar, but do not actively engage with (Elaine Summers loved to work with Jazz, for that matter) was a further step in our ongoing exchange. I also remembered when I accidentally discovered the use of swing in movement, which at that moment on the job helped me to keep on walking despite a serious impediment by a sprained ankle. this made great sense remembering the conditions for enslaved Afro-Americans trying to survive the plantations. the amount of internal pain that seems to keep on swinging in so much of African American music, even when the tone seems cool and low in energy,  equally keeps making sense, not just from intellectual reflection.

A Love Supreme
somewhat in contrast to the above, i also find myself listening to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, which given my own cultural development is a bit of a surprise: unlike with my youngest brother, Jazz never got too much of a direct hold on me, I missed clarity of melodic lines or chord-sequence, and quickly got disillusioned with the kinds of improvisation that did not fulfill what i was after - all of this coupled with a "subtle distance" (=internalized racism) towards Black African people. 

despite snide remarks from a.o. Miles Davis about this piece, the title alone suggests devotion and committment, risk, and movement. Salva Sanchis made a series of dances to it in 2014 and continued to work on them. the kinds of movement suggest a very similar development as what I described above. so much for being con-temporaries ...

anyway, i have only just begun working.
thank goodness I have a working space, and now a camera to record rehearsals with - thanks ever & again Deborah Black* and Kinetic Awareness® Center!

looking forward to further developments ...

* Deborah Black is currently developing and teaching her own practice called Radical Presence. more about it can be found on her website.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

revisiting "In Circles", 20-year anniversary | Rotterdam 2017

In Circles was started in 1996 and the original dance was conceived directly during the last months of my study at the Rotterdamse Dansacademie (now codarts) - a whirling furioso ...

on October 18th, 1997 the dance had its first public performance in New York City as Reàl Dance Company. now it's 2017 and I am revisiting the piece for a new performance, 20 years after the first time. the outcome will be presented on October 20th in Dansateliers, Rotterdam.

I already felt back in 1996 that I would need much of my career to grow and develop the tools that I needed to create this dance that I had in mind. then I went for it, and it was even more work than I had anticipated. but as of last week, I feel that for me the dance is as 'ready' as it could be, still evolving, in front of the audience, which it was and is meant to do.

for this public performance I got kind permission by Donemus publishers to use the original inspiration of Simeon ten Holt's now very popular classic Canto Ostinato as the music. after a long search, I found the specific recording from 1984 that had been used by Krisztina de Châtel for her work Typhoon and was also available at the library of the Rotterdamse Dansacademie (now codarts). this recording had been with me for over 20 years and I kept listening to it off and on. because this recording is 'set', I will have to adapt my actions to the set flow of the music.

in this respect, it was also important to learn about the frame of "open" and "closed" forms of choreography when I studied Open Form Composition at ArtEZ/Dance Unlimited, 2002-2004. It helped me work within the vast understanding opened up by Elaine Summers about dance and its infinite, sensorial, options.

accepting Open Form Composition meant accepting something 'unfinished' which was a major criticism and difficulty that I kept facing. it took a very long time before I could develop the softness and sensitivity of creating with a more kinesthetic memory. now I have a framework that does not have to harm the content, but help it become itself and still remain alive and in the moment.

I also feel much more aware of the Dutch local context in Rotterdam, in which I am working.  even if I can say that I am continually crossing over various places, I am still very much here and need to understand the ongoing conditions of making work here, if I want to be successful enough to realize what I want. SKVR Dansschool are kindly and generously providing much studio space, for which I am deeply grateful.

X crossings ...
basically, the dance is about getting lost in rabbit-holes of details, self-made, self-created structures that present the ever ongoing problem of entanglement, but also of growth & development, for which these structures have been created in the first place, an inevitable consequence of breathing, living, moving.

in my daily life, it is time after time that I get caught in these crossings -moments where I cannot move through. most of the time it is very unpleasant, a conflict, something that I cannot resolve, or something that I feel I am doing wrong, out of tune, violating the context at that moment. In Circles keeps literally moving into and exploring these crucial moments, repetitively, changing over time, but always varying around a number of eventually recognizable patterns. at times there are also resolutions, happening live during the performance of the dance ...

(and of course a moment can also be wonderful, uplifting, liberating, etc. )

intersectional => holistic awareness
In Circles marked the beginning of a series of works that I call the black series, related to the (non)color. all works in this series are very theatrical, open to the transcendental, meditative. they all explore emptiness, non-existence, which I realized is a source. all costumes in this series are black, no other colour except the human body of the interpreter. 

although I was greaty impacted in 1996 by growing up gay, a wider intersectional awareness of racism, or classism was all but absent in my mind, or at best in very rudimentary beginnings. living in a very multicultural city like Rotterdam, where delineations of cultural segregation are not always clearly visible in public space, this may strike as an anomaly. but it took me a very long time to slowly grow into some more understanding and I am very grateful to the people who knew how to make a positive difference for me in this respect. fortunately this process is continuing.

with the current series medvetánc : degrees of (in)tangibility where the dominant colours are organic brown and gold, I seem to have found a way out of the initial more conceptual white & black, to human/animal, understanding. still, much is to be done.
I realize that I cannot change much about the dance, it is me at that moment, a product of the culture that I come from. and so there are no overt references, as in Pelléas material / b.a.n.q. (2014)
however I believe it can be read in a closed way, or in an open way, open to change. that depends on the response-ability of the witnessing audience member, and once again I am asking myself what I can expect of a general public in Rotterdam, and those who will come to the studio-presentation.

if I were to transfer the dance to the originally envisioned five performers, each one of them would have to develop their way of dealing with the music, the movement-vocabulary (based on walking and gestures) and their interpretation. the very choice of performers would have to be done with consciousness about their society and where the performance will be done.

it is my hope that whatever will come out as the result, will sufficiently reflect the potential of the dance to a wider audience, still fulfilling the rule of Meret Oppenheim about good art ("either it lives or it doesn't!") and her admonition for the artist to "work, work, work, without looking left or right"
the pleasure of being in a stage where this is all I need to do (warm up and then do the dance to my fullest) is very fulfilling and I hope the audience(s) will have the same experience.

quote of the day:
To oppose something is to maintain it. They say here “all roads lead to Mishnory”. To be sure, if you turn your back on Mishnory and walk away from it, you are still on the Mishnory road. [..] You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal, then you walk a different road.

To be an atheist is to maintain God. Existent or nonexistent amount to much the same on the plane of proof. Thus
proof is a word not often used among the Handarata, who have chosen not to treat God as a fact, subject either to proof or belief: and they have broken the circle and go free.

(Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

multi-dimensional thinking patterns

 from complexity to linear

many lines, emerging in space & time

many such processes happening at the same time

relative hierarchy:
here depicted as a continuum between green, blue, black, or red

to move uses energy,
con-sequentially -unless the one-directionality of time/energy is reversable-
e.g. going to red-black, when you really want to move to green (thus go indirectly)
will not always be helpful 
(but sometimes inevitable)

traces left behind of many such movements
"in circles" ...