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.