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)