Thursday, August 2, 2012

Elaine Summers: Ouverture / By Chance - recreation as a reminder of a legacy

Ouverture (reconstruction) was shown as part of Movement Research's celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the very 1st Judson Dance Theater Performance on July 6, 2012, at the Judson Church. It was created by Elaine Summers (Wikipedia / website) and her idea to do a chance-movie (Banes, Sally, Democracy's Body - therefore also the alternative title "By Chance") and did so in collaboration with John Herbert McDowell and Eugene Friedman.

was originally performed in 1962 with fifteen minutes 16mm film & 1 dancer, realized for Judson Dance Theater's First Concert. Audience is requested to walk through the movie screen before seating.

In the film: Deborah Hay, Freddy Herko, Richard Brodney, Kenward Elmslie, Carol Summers, Elaine Summers, Sally Gross, Ruth Emerson, Carla Blanc, Arthur Levin, Al Carmines, George McGrath, Steve Paxton, Remy Charlip, Lila Pais, Josh Pais, John Worden, Sally Stackhouse, Harold Johnson, Joseph Schlichter, James Waring, Arlene Rothlein, Edward Barton, Rev. Howard Moody, Carolee Schneemann, Clyde, Rosie & Michael Lax, Christine Myers, Sandra Neals, Phoebe Neville, Larry Seigal, Robert Rainieri, Al Hansen, Ira Matteson, Bill Meyers, Johanna Vanderbeek, Carolyn Chrisman, Robert Ranieri, Norma Marder, Lou Rogers, John Patton, John Hoppe, Kyle Summers, Malcolm Goldstein, John Herbert McDowell, the parade for the astronauts on their return from the moon.

Don McDonagh and Robert Dunn chronicled the First Concert:
"McD: There's an interesting description by John McDowell of the opening of the first concert: 'The very first dance that ever happened at Judson was really very extraordinary in a couple of ways. First, the beginning of it, which was Bob Dunn's doing and was beautiful. The dance concert was announced to start at 8:15 and they went upstairs into the sanctuary to find that in order to get to their seats they had to walk across a movie that was going on. This movie consisted of some chance edited footage by Elaine Summers and test footage that I made... And we went on exactly, precisely for 15 minutes. The first dance which was by Ruth Emerson started on the dot of 8:30. As the movie was just about to go off, the six people or so involved came out, the movie sort of dissolved into the dance.
Dunn: Yes this was really incredible, the beginning of the first (Judson)concert. It doesn't sound like much now but it was extraordinary, my hair stands on end to think how that worked. Nobody ever did anything like that."  from Don McDonagh, The Rise & Fall & Rise of Modern Dance

Congratulations to all who made it possible!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

local global universal • dreaming

as if the vast emptiness of the universe around us weren't challenge enough for our life, let alone the vast and ecological course of events on our planet where we originated and are embedded in its matrix. there will always be challenges to our existence, no need for any extra that we create ourselves. idiotic and needless to destroy our habitat and therefore ourselves before we've found out enough to be able to transplant sustainably to a new habitat. and even then, it can be fatal to no longer know of origins but internally still be bound by them, because once something it's gone, good bye ...

as if our organic life weren't already 'anarchy' enough and at the same time 'order' enough to live by and to find ways of survival. 'tribes/governments/nations/conglomerates' or 'values' may emerge over time but also dissolve like any organic entity. knowing that we're all one big super-organism, already, within all of the moons and stars. energy action voice stories language music images writing dance philosophy evolving ...
each generation anew should be presented both, the old traditional systems and at the same time the most contemporary questions and challenges. so that in the continuous interactions and exchanges optimum structures can be grown over time, for the benefit of us all. how we can live our lives in the here and now is challenge enough.

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i realised once again how much dreaming be a free-flow action of our daily perception/processing/thinking/being/living when being conscious. to interfere with such a regenerative process seems to me highly risk-full because I find the value to be in the uncontrolled- / after-image / echo-like quality of dreaming .. a bit like flying actually ;-)
i believe a similar case is the practice of release-based techniques and approaches: to not 'mind-down' one's physical functioning, instead be very open and non-directive with any invasion, even just noticing one's sensations and what grows from continued noticing / perception and arrive at a responsible balance with conscious action / movement / articulation. where remains the role for conscious action, should that and only that remain the object of concentration? (a kind of black-box approach) eventually, any black box will ask for more and more refinement to ever more understand ever vaster aspects of existence.

(inspired by reading many Science Fiction books of diverse quality over many years, and the practice of body-mind work and explorations, also over many years)

*               *                      *

once at a General Assembly @OccupyRotterdam I said to a fellow Occupier "like us bunch of dreamers" and instantly realized that I was giving us a negative and derogatory value judgement at that moment. it became clear to us both instantly and she said: "well that's the good thing about us isn't it?" - and yes it is: to dream of better possibilities and find out how it alters all the other aspects of our reality ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

de raaf / raven (thinking of Hari Seldon)

tomorrow, against all odds, on the Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam between 19.00-19.45
it happens before the opening of the Rotterdam Dance Night and on the day of global protest-actions for May 12 2012
i was thinking of the fictional character Hari Seldon who at one point was called 'the raven' the fore-bearer of misfortune.
parallel I am watching "Variations V" by Merce Cunningham Dance Company and John Cage with musicians, plus films by Stan Vanderbeek, from UBU-WEB ... in a way punk has always been there! :-) (just notice the letter-types at the very beginning)
we are still in a sort of wake, what are we doing with the promises?

Monday, April 16, 2012

further ... O-WHITE

tonight I saw "traces & resonances" a series by performer Sato Endo and cellist Nina Hitz at Roodkapje Rotterdam (NL) with guest artist Lukas Simonis.

(see here an earlier example from their performance-series)

they managed to arrive at a nearly Cage-ian exchange of energies, whether it was movement of sound or body in the space freely interacting. the reactions went very well towards each other, each of the three performers acted in basic independence but with open responsibly to the other two, including the presence of the audience.
i was a bit missing the inclusion of or at least awareness / acknowledgement of the streets and passers-by outside, because Roodkapje on the Meent has these giant windows which open the enire room towards the street and the people passing by. i find it is such a traditional box-theatre thing to do. however there was one moment towards the end when Sato was slowly turning her head from side to side, acknowledging the cars that we could hear outside.

while I found that the number of audience was perfect for the size of the space and number of active performers, i also had the idea that in a larger city like e.g. New York, there would be simply much more energy concentrated, available, even just as a background against which such a performance could happen.
the state of con·sens·us was come very close to and present internally, although there was the focus inward within the venue, and a larger amount of independence between the performers.
i did write two more or less understandable Japanese haikus, one at the beginning and one at towards the end of the performance, and Sato and her friend Aki were very friendly and encouraging about them.

what got me really interested during the 2nd half was the idea that I should try to continue from where I thought they were, reach a sensorial consensus with my surroundings, and then go into a solo without music or other accompaniments than just what has already been . seeking a point of silence-zero-nothing, a kind of white where all of the sensorializing and calibrating-adjusting-tuning would flow into ONE thing, and to see what could go on from there and happen from that state of being ...
it would have to be a state where individuality would no longer be important, a kind of white energy that has absorbed all the colored movements before, the near-death experience of creating forms.
Hans Zender describes in his book "Happy New Ears" (a quote by John Cage)(1991) how from this near-death experience of art-making, comes the nothingness in which new experience, the experience of purely just being, can once again take place. any following making of forms, from this experience, would be a very different thing and matter. and definitely energy.
Gertrude Stein in her lecture "What Are Masterpieces and Why Are There So Few of Them" mentions a similar thing, namely that a master piece may talk about identity, but that there must be none involved in its creation, because as soon as identity happens, memory comes into play ("you are you because your little dog knows you") and "creation breaks down". this is a very difficult thing for any live performer, certainly a dancer or actor who communicate via their own presence, but possible when we succeed in maintaining this place of identity without interfering the realm where there is none.

just like Zender states that this experience of near-death of art ends the linearity of Western art-development of emancipation from any kind of convention until sensorial perception itself is left to be free, echoes with Mary Overlie's statement of Postmodernism leading into a circular situation where several languages of art interact with each other, without hegemony of any single one over another. (mentioned during her teaching at DANCE UNLIMITED, Sept 2002, not on this website -yet)

being so involved in working a part-time job and making projects with amateurs and communities (Delfshaven Dans! - uitnodiging aan stiekeme dansers) I doubly cherish the presence and opportunity to have these collegues working and living in this city of nearly 600.000 inhabitants to further such specialized concerns and helping me understand and think further in this direction as well - thank you! :-)