Monday, February 8, 2010

prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

worked on this theme in a workshop by Johnny Schoofs at Dansateliers, Rotterdam, February 5th & 6th. Johnny has a 5 week-period to investigate this subject further.

Johnny gave some very simple basic physical exercises to start with and guided us through character-work. the exercises were wonderfully well-chosen, at the same time simple as powerful.
I realized that what intrigued me about the figure of the Faun is not only his perceived masculine energy and lust, but also the melting of different layers between the spiritual / natural, human, animal.
and I did manage to develop my relationship to the Faun in this much further! :-)

we also looked at the original choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky. I realized how beautifully it works, between utter containment of the forms and shapes, and the sheer abundance of movement energy that happens in all the elements, including the presence of the performers.(also saw the parallels in shapes that he used in "Petrouchka")

>the choreography calls for utterly feline and kinesthetically trained interpreters to perform, not only on the level of articulation but also of acting and emotion to match in the living moment (compare to my notion of 'sensitive energy')

otherwise the shapes are in danger to become overly rigid & the balance with the ongoing currents of energy, sensousness, lust, interaction, animal level, even spiritual, are lost ...
(as a comparison, click here for the interpretation by Rudolf Nurejev, very different qualities, .... )

animals as well as plants, in my opinion, have no energy to waste.
so even in moments of high alertness, they remain quite still, yet ready to move at any time. Nijinsky's choreography has realized this demand beautifully.

the abundance of the music, its pearly and glittering harmonies and sensuous delicacy, but overall the emotions that it triggered in me were very special to me, also during the workshop. the positive experience resonates with me during these days.

Pelleas & Mélisande / One over Zero
the workshop coincided with an improvisation class that I was teaching the same week as a substitute, again for Johnny Schoofs, at dansdrift in Den Haag / the Hague. we were working on energy levels in articulation, into the space.
in advance I decided that if the one French group member would show up, I'd used the first Act from Debussy's "Pelleas & Mélisande" as a continuous music during the entire evening. she did come and so I used this music...

we ended up with working on the endless refinement and change-ability, again the notion of 'sensitive energy', all the 53 trillion cells of a human body (an image used by Deborah Hay) to actively be mobile and presently engag all the time.
again endless refinement, very well-measured and beautiful interpretations by the participants, at times completely independent from the music, but as yet with a wonderfully theatrical effect.

I realize that I really value this sensitivity that Debussy realised in these orchestral pieces, the variety and richness of harmony and orchestration that he could achieve, even while remaining in the Westernized tonal system.
according to the booklet notes of my CD, when writing the opera, Debussy wrote that he had discovered silence as an ultimate means of expression. (this was at the fin du siècle! - later echoed in e.g. the ZaZen adaptation from Japan and Korea in the U.S. and its link to post-modernism)
he asked his colleague not to laugh at him for this.
instead, all through the opera, the element of silence is not only present in Mélisande's character, but also in the ever ongoing music, with its cadences and peaks, as well as the tenderness that is always present in the sounds.

I see parallels with our cellular awareness and advocate to see beyond 'decadence' and rather accept the fleetingness and ephemerality as a substantial quality of our existence.

it comes as an effect of existence over non-existence, one over zero
this brings the efficiency of any natural phenomenon, whether it decides to waste billions of sperm and egg cells or is reflected in the wonderful sensitivity with which cats or elephants can move and act.
i see this understanding at the heart of any of these 'new' approaches of our era, because it enables movement, and fleeting ephemerality where previously stability was demanded / perceived.
and obviously also in the release work, such as done by Mary O'Donnell and its being at the heart of ZaZen meditation and/or the Kinetic Awareness® work of Elaine Summers...

this fleetingness of the moment, calls for an ever greater response-ability, and I find that Asian cultures have a lot of this internalized, albeit with at times even more rigid cultural results, to not let the natural balance of the cosmos be distorted by what is perceived as an error or mistake.

as for what makes a classic, the balance / equilibrium of forces, is as present a need in our times as ever, even if we find more and more ways to realize and understand these balances, further and further independent from norms that dictate shapes, patterns etc.

and so we are finding more and more possible options to realise within this given, like e.g. at the Open Dans Festival in 2009 which was a powerful exponent of the ongoing Rotterdam Renaissance in progressive Dance culture...

Open Dans 2009 compilation from Janne Eraker on Vimeo.