Tuesday, December 23, 2008

23 December

Good Evening everyone and happy holidays!
I've just added some video. I've finally begun to look at some of the footage of the 7 hour marathon I did at Skidmore College to raise money for the Commissioning Project. I've selected only the first 5 minutes or so. I think I'll try to add some of the later footage when I am dog tired just for fun.
I am inspired to do this and, well, just to think about it because our lovely Fiona from the August Project Workshop just performed her solo in Australia. I'm so curious to know how it all went. I think she did 4 or 5 days of performances along with one of her own creations. Good On Ya Fiona! Let us know. It makes me wonder how many others have performed so far or whether she is the first to show I'LL CRANE FOR YOU.

So here's something to watch and enjoy.

The practice for me is continuing apace. So much work in the meantime and finding time and space to practice has been a challenge. I haven't resorted to dropping my bags and simply doing 25 minutes in Hyde Park, or in the mall while Christmas shopping, or anything like that. I've been working between classes on the lunch break at Skidmore and finding studios and using the stage while touring St. Cloud, MN and Calgary, and the Court Theater in Chicago. But I'm making progress no question and looking forward to setting a date and a location.

What I've learned recently:

1. "Get what you need and nothing less" has everything to do with Time.
2. "I need the lab" has everything to do with focus and remaining in the moment so as not otherwise to go into a visual trance. Which is to say that it is easy to let the eyes fix and glaze over so that one is consequently inwardly seeing an designing one's movement. IT'S NOT THAT.
3. There is nothing to reach for.
4. I now understand better the admonition "just see what you are doing as (fill in the prompt/proposition/direction from Deborah's score).
5. It helps to actually let the score go and not try to do it at all. Once the sequence is familiar, just dance, and now and again remember what the sequence is.
6. It helps for me to dance for 20 to 30 minutes before practicing the performance with shape so that I can burn off or get rid of my "dancing ideas" vocabulary. It's better for me to work all that off with exhaustion and then dance what is left.
7. Spend 1/2 an hour on the floor and just deal with it. Try to get up. Humbling.
8. Remember again and again and again, "It's no big deal."
9. Remember again and again and again, "You can't do it."
10. I love Pina Bausch (just saw Bamboo Blues and enjoyed it).

Very best holiday wishes to all of you. More later. And thank you again for your support.


1st minutes of the 2/10/07 7 hour marathon ....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008

Good Morning Everyone.
I haven't written in some time now. I've been healing as I said earlier. And, well, the days have been full and time has been short. And so finally recently I've been carving out moments to work and practice again. It is a good feeling to get back to it. And like anything else, time away can certainly impact positively how something is progressing. I think of listening to a scientist talk about how learning something is assisted by going to sleep. And later you realize that you know the thing you learned, a musical notation, a movement sequence, a memorized text much better - because in the "down time" or sleep or "away from ness" the mind has cleared away the extra chatter that is accumulated during the day which tends to cloud or impede one's ability to concentrate and learn. But actually, the brain is learning even when you are not consciously TRYING to learn something.
All by way of saying or forgiving myself for having taken time off to heal. Brother.

And so now I am in Chicago with SITI company performing RADIO MACBETH for the month of November at the Court Theater in Hyde Park on the south side. You ALL know Hyde Park now because it is the home of Barack Obama and his family. It is a lovely neighborhood full of really HAPPY people right now. We (the company) arrived the day before the election and witnessed and continue to experience the hangover bliss of that Tuesday night. One I will not forget to be certain.

And now we are well into the run and audiences have been fun and lovely. The theater has been incredibly supportive. We've (SITI) been workshopping at the same time a new adaptation of THE SEAGULL by our friend and playwright Michael West who came over from his home in Dublin to be with us for 10 days. So it has been very busy here.

I just received this link from one of the '08 commissioning project dancers Tania Soubry. It is an interview with Layard Thompson who has done 4 solo adaptations it seems. Here he is being interviewed about the work and about Deborah.


I don't know Layard Thompson but I imagine many of you do. Perhaps this will be interesting to you.

Okay, going to get this body going and find time to do some work before the 2 RADIO MACBETH performances today. I'll practice either before, or in between the matinee and the evening show.

Best wishes to all of you and gratitude for your good wishes to me.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Hello Everyone,
In case you are looking and wondering, I've hurt my back and have forced myself not to train, or yoga, or PRACTICE in order to heal. It's driving me mental, but there it is. I hope all of you are safe and healthy, thriving and productive.

Very Best,


Friday, October 10, 2008


"I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands."  Louise Bourgeois, sculptor

That's what I have today.  It seems appropriate ( I don't know about the hands part, but if you stop after the word "do" ...)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

a blur in practice

October 8th

Okay so I made the comment about the floor. To be more clear and more honest, I rarely go to the floor. Now DH has said that she doesn't see this going to the floor really, and by "this" I mean I'LL CRANE FOR YOU. But what else? She has also suggested (humorously in part) that the problem with going to the floor is that you have to get back off the floor and there aren't many people who can do this in a very interesting way. (The gauntlet is down!) The audience knows you are getting up at some point and will (this is me now) anticipate it and there is a kind of "prove it" attitude suggested here. Unless you are (as one friend noted to me) a great butoh artist and are spending the entire dance on the floor and what we watch is the enormous dilemma of trying to get up - and that IS the dance. But that is not our dance. And, at the same time, I feel like I have to spend a lot of time on the floor in order to understand this fully. But I'll wait until my back is not in SPASM. For today, upright and dealing with the questions is just fine.

One thing I cannot let get me down is that I realize that in light of DH's statement, "I recognize my choreography when I see a dancer’s self-regulated transcendence of his/her choreographed body," that not only are we choreograhed bodies created by our environment, our nature/nourture, our stings and our succeses, but that we are choreographing ourselves all the time every moment. It's like habit I suppose. We acquire habit the first part of our lives as a survival mechanism and then spend the second half of our lives shaking off these habits to be finally free. And so dancing, or creating in any form, must be a way of countering this constant and unconscious and relentless "choreographing" that is going on all the time.

What's the word? Ah, "surrender." Good choice of words. Surrender the moment and there's no time for anything to cling because there is no time to assess how it's going nor indulge nor process the moment.

Okay, good.

Good night dear ones.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

So's you know

Posted By bondo to Bondo's Mobile Blog at 10/07/2008 09:50:00 PM

October 7th

Question: What's my relationship to the floor? Good question. And I can't shake it. It's clearly based on the inevitability of getting Off the floor.

Observation: Invite being seen, Get what you need, Surrender the pattern of fixing on a singular direction, idea, feeling, object, Invite being seen, again.

The human brain we know can do only one thing at a time. However, it does it extremely quickly - so quickly that it seems that everything is happening at once and in a coherent way. But this is a fiction. So as I practice I keep changing or reminding myself of each of these prompts. Brother. As DH says, it's impossible. "What if ..." you could? Isn't that fun? It is. And impossible. It's mind boggling to have all this going on at the same time, and then clearly have no choice but to experience the dance that is happening. It's happening because you entered. That's all I have for now.

My friend Julie Lockett has posted some photos on Flickr. Check them out if you like.

Very best to you all,


Sunday, September 28, 2008

another entry

Read this one at your own peril.


September 28

Hello Everyone.

I've just arrived home after a week with SITI in Calgary performing
RADIO MACBETH and a week before that in St. Cloud, MN.
In all that time, as I've told you, I've found time on stage before or
after the company training to either do a performance practice of I'LL
CRANE FOR YOU, or simply do a performance practice without the shapes
of that dance.

I felt at one moment this week like I'd had some sort of breakthrough,
but then just wondered whether I'd formulated yet another question/
obsession with the work. I'm hyper aware of what I might call a
"style." What it looks like. I imagine a time will come that my own
patterning will dissolve and the essential shape of the piece as I do
it will begin to emerge. Maybe I'm still too self conscious about how
I move and am not really interested in that, but how this body REALLY
works vis-a-vis this dance. It has to do with Bondo's own learned, or
life choreographed patterning, and what I have seen and love in what I
see on stage. Two strong influences which I fear get in the way. And
now I've taken to simply moving for as long as I can or have the
time. Move until the moving is strange again. Move until the
patterns become discernible and then keep moving until that
discernibility breaks down. "Remove the sequencing from the sequence
of movement directions" as Deborah directs. And so as the company was
saying that they were watching me on the green room monitor doing my
dance, I said, No I was just moving. I seem to have to do this for a
long time. Move every day. And then flip the switch in my head and
turn that movement into performance practice.

All of this has certainly altered my thinking about being on stage in
ANY medium. Acting for example. What is acting? "Acting is the
reality of doing?" as a celebrated mid-century acting teacher from the
actors' studio has said. Well, so yes, but so is dancing and painting
and playing an instrument. What the hell does that mean? Doing what?
Okay, so there is the surface score of what an observer would SEE. Is
this what the actor is doing? This is a sequence of events. And what
is the consciousness that ties this sequence of events together to
make it worthy of the stage?

I'd thought of the metaphor of a pearl necklace. A string of pearls
held together by a silken thread. When did it become a necklace?
What makes it a necklace? What makes it a "pearl" necklace? "Pearl"
would be the local, or folk, or specific cultural / tribal signifier.
"Necklace" would be the meta understanding of the thread and pearls.
The "thread" is hardly noticed, but could be the consciousness that
strings together the unrelated, independent events - the pearls. The
movements of a dance. The events of speaking, moving, singing,
dancing of a "play."

Text is the problem because it brings with it feeling and emotion and
psychology. Emotion is what we call feeling after the fact. Feeling
comes first, then emotion, and then psychology which seems to me our
reaction to the emotion as it drags with it the weight of the past and
the anxiety over the future.

Now in life we are unconscious much or most of the time. Virginia
Woolf speaks of moments of Being and Non Being that make up the fabric
of a life. But this is life, not art. Is it true that dance is
simply conscious movement? What changes a sequence of movement into a
dance, or a sequence of events in a "play" into a performance?

Let's go back to the pearl necklace metaphor.
- question: What are you doing?
answer: pearl, pearl, pearl, pearl, pearl, pearl, pearl (that's
like the game of saying a word over and over until it has no meaning)

- question: What are you called?
answer: Necklace.
another question then: Show me the necklace. Where is it really?
What is it? It doesn't really exist does it?

- question: What do we not see?
answer: The thread holding it all together.

I'm looking for the implication that there is a kind of "concentration"
running through the dance / performance. A string of moments of
being. Something to do with Attention.

Remember: "What if my choice to surrender the pattern of fixing on a
singularly coherent idea, feeling, or object, when I am dancing is a
way of remembering to see where I am in order to surrender where I
am? What if how I see while I am dancing is a means by which movement
arises without looking for it?" Deborah Hay

So I'm mixing things up here. I'm working on the "dance" and thinking
about my work in the "theater" and it is clearly more and more
impossible to separate the two.

In the dance, I'LL CRANE FOR YOU, there is the score underneath that
holds it all together remember. The movement is just the local and
temporal way of addressing the score. "Use of Time is the creative
act, not the movement."

It is certainly true that when we are working on a new piece in SITI
or reworking a created piece that we speak frequently of the TIME and
how it functions. Surely an artist who works in time must ultimately
deal with this element primarily in order for the What (the movement
of the dance, or the text of a play, or the "story" as it were) of
the piece and the Space of the piece to be visible.

And how do we deal with Time? Well, DH suggests that the
proposition: "Get what you need" is translated as Time.

Okay, enough of this heady stuff for now. You'd think that I'd simply
try to get my body moving every day. Work out the kinks and stiffness
and pain of the body. That's enough isn't it? Much less this
THINKING about it. But this is the formative work that one must do.
Ultimately "the body is the teacher" and I have the gift of working on
that. It is true that the body knows before the brain and this
blogging requires language which just tangles it all up.

This is a sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim (am I writing that correctly?)
which was in Calgary attained for a limited time by the entrepreneur
who owned the hotel we stayed in and the restaurant that he took us to
and who sponsored our opening night and who is a collector of
contemporary art and really a lovely man to meet and speak with. It's

Friday, September 19, 2008

yours truly as MacDuff

Leon pre show Radio MacBeth

19 september 08

Good Morning everyone,
I'm in St. Cloud, MN this week with the SITI company performing our RADIO MACBETH. Next week in Calgary. And then we'll do a 1 month sit down at the Court Theater in Chicago, IL in November. It is a pleasure to be touring this production. I think it is something and should be seen more and more. I was saying to Anne (Bogart) last night that this is one of those pieces one feels one wants to grow old with. (I feel that with DEATH AND THE PLOUGHMAN too.) I believe in works against which one can measure oneself over a long period of time - to measure one's growth, one's progress, one's belief system, a lifetime in and with an art work. I imagine one can think this way about a painting one sits with at home every day and mark over time the changes in response, or a book one reads over and again through the years and finds new information, new and REnewed interest, and of course with a dance. And that is what this is about.

I simply wanted to note that I've had the luxury of practicing I'LL CRANE FOR YOU on the stage pre and post SITI company training before the performance of RMcB. There I am off stage right doing my practice and working through ICFY while the other actors are doing their own work: Ellen doing work she did in rehearsal with T. Suzuki this summer, some doing yoga, some working over the language, some also working on other productions in repertory at the moment, and me doing practice. It's beautiful. Everyone is very curious about the dance and the practice and anxious for me to do the dance, but I remind them that I am contracted to practice for at least 3 months before a showing. And so they watch me work out of the corner of their eyes (as I do them.) They are curious of course. We are curious about one another. I think too that curiosity is essential in any work and in any relationship. It's fantastic to be on stage with professionals like this doing one's own work. We are all growing together. We've been through the trenches together to be sure over the last 16 years and some of us for even longer than that. We have our own interests - and we make room for one another which is the really big deal. Maybe we've matured over the time together. I hope so. And so we cheer each other on (and up) in our private work as we do in our work together. It is a great source of energy to be there with them. Believe me I know how lucky I am. It doesn't come easily; it costs and has cost personally over the years; but it is sustaining and gives back in spades.
It occurs to me that any work, anything one chooses to do, is, works as, can be a kind of lens through which we see one another (and ourselves) AGAIN for the first time. Each production. Now I'm on stage with Ellen or Barney or Akiko or Kel in THIS way. How do I see them now? And what am I this time 5 or 10 or 16 years later? Which brings me to Leon. I simply want to acknowledge that Leon is taking on quite a fight. He is assaying the scottish king this week while Stephen has been doing another production. Leon hasn't had much time to rehearse, is swinging wide at it, and really moving to watch negotiate this terrain day after day. It certainly does change one. It's fun to watch him "practice" and change and make little baby steps which play out like victories in the moment. (And then I get to "kill" him in the end.)

And so "practicing." What are we all practicing?

I'm practicing with this group.
I'm practicing alone I'LL CRANE FOR YOU.
We are all practicing something. We adjust. We lose interest and energy. We find renewed interest and reasons for doing.
We win little battles and modest victories.
We keep going.

Which I'm going to do now.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

more stuff

here's an update if you're interested:




Hello everyone far and away.
This is just to say that the daily practice is going fine. It is a
little bizarre to go into a room alone and practice after having the
support and eyes of Deborah and many fine and compassionate souls over
the past 2 weeks. But I am holding to the contract and doing the
daily practice. As DH says, if you have to, just walk into a space,
whatever space available to you, drop your bag, and do it. And then
walk away without a thought. Just doing the practice on a daily basis
will yield results. I'm counting on it. I am in no way interested or
able to do more than just practice. I have no take on the piece, no
interest in judging or choreographing (which is against the spirit of
the thing anyway) but only to get the thing as deeply into my bones as
possible and being present with it.

I have with me the heading quote from one of the chapters of Deborah
Hay's MY BODY THE BUDDHIST which is: "My body commits to practicing
Robert Wilson" -Robert Wilson. And that is just it. I can certainly
hear him saying this and recognize it in him. And in Deborah. And
now I think of it every time I go to work. Every time I practice the
DH work and I'LL CRANE FOR YOU. Every time - well you can imagine.
It is a brilliant thing to think about - solo - in a studio or any
empty available space and just running through what it is you do. It
is solitary work. It's not a matter of trust or confidence at this
point - just fun and - just work.

But it is happening. It feels a little like a secret mission (which
I'm telling all of you!) that is occurring and silently changing the
way I see things and feel about things and about work in general and,
well, about myself and how I see myself fitting in to this world and
my work place within it.

Anyway this is the solitary place any choreographer understands every
morning walking into the studio before the dancers arrive I imagine,
or any solo artist, or any artist of any kind who either works alone
or with collaborators, but necessarily must spend time doing what s/he
does first before the public work. Working alone is one thing.
Training alone is an entirely other can or worms. And there is where
I feel the uniqueness of this project for the time being.

Anyway just wanted to let you know that it is happening and moving
toward the eventual and as yet unscheduled public performance date.
But so much to do before then. Lots of work at Skidmore, and lots and
lots of work with SITI before any dance will happen for me.

I think of all of you working away in your solitary moments practicing
or doing what? Finish this statement: " I commit to practicing
______________." Well done.

By the way I hope that it is okay to post this picture of Deborah. Am
I breaking any laws? Jeez.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

coming home

Hello Everyone, I'm on my way back to the USA tomorrow and arrive
Sunday night late. I've been keeping up with the blog as best I can
and will continue. If you are interested:


all the best,


some thoughts on the final evening

We're about to meet at D. Hay's house for a final night party. Our
man Karl who works for BodySurf Scotland who really runs the day to
day and helps us out is bringing some of the local single malt. I am
awfully excited about that. I haven't had any yet - and some of you
will drop a jaw to hear that. But it's true.

Today we saw 6 solos. Marielle, Celine, Shelly, Brenden, Melissa,
Fiona Bryant. Couldn't be more different. And couldn't be better
examples of just how MUCH progress has been made in 10 short days. I
don't know how it's happened and I only hope that I have been able to
make such progress too. Really just impressive performances - better
yet instances of how each of the dancers has opened over the days.

Now I'm disappointed that I didn't get to go again, but we did do a
final group practice "without the shape" as Deborah H. says, meaning
not practicing I'LL CRANE FOR YOU. And then we did a practice "with
shape." As we were working she paused us and asked us to do it as a
group dance - not simply 20 people doing their own version, but that
we worked together to create a group dance. It was fantastic. All
doing the same choreography, all doing a completely different
adaptation in the moment, all at the same time. One feels finally that
when we are released to our own worlds, our own lives, our own
rhythms, our own solitary practices, we will always have the feeling
of not actually being alone in the practice, but that we have the
other 19 moving all around us to inspire the movement. It's quite
moving actually. And we'll also understand that the 19 others and
Deborah as well will be finding some moment, some time, some space,
some stolen opportunity during the day, each day, to do a practice for
1/2 hour, or 20 minutes, or 1 hour of I'LL CRANE FOR YOU. And each
will be finishing the practice sometimes mystified, sometimes
disappointed, sometimes frustrated, sometimes no doubt just elated,
and thinking about their "frame" for the piece and about when in fact
they will do their first public performance - not before 3 months time
of daily practice. It'll be a laugh to think that we'll be spread all
over the world, finding time to do the same thing. And then I think
of other Solo Performance Commissioning Project dancers living the
same rhythm with their own dances all over the world - some 140 of
them - and suddenly the world seems an even smaller and even
friendlier place.

Okay, I'm getting a little sentimental and I apologize (and I haven't
even had any of the scotch yet) but I cannot help but think about it.

Remember my friends, my patrons, and collaborators that you've made
this possible - not simply so that Bondo could go and do something
exotic and cool, but that all of the spcp'ers could go out and make
something unique, to keep Deborah Hay in the world (which is very
important) and to make art.

I'll leave you with a quote Deborah gave us early on - from where it
comes I don't remember:

"The purpose of art is to make life more interesting than art." [Deborah reminds me that this is a quote from Robert Fillou. Thank you Deborah.]

Not bad. Okay, off for a snort.

Good night and see you all very soon.



Final Group Practice

Brenden, Sandy & Fiona

Interps of some of the choreography

Marielle & Joanne

Fiona Millward dancer in DH's group dance GROPE FIND IT AND PULL IT OUT

Friday, September 5, 2008

from a loved one and patron

"Have a wonderful last day. Crane away for Findhorn, for dance, for
your fellow soloists, for your teachers, for your students, for your
audience, and mostly, for the privilege to just crane."

will do ....

5 September 08

The Final Day:

Good Morning Everyone,

This is Friday September 5. It is the final day of the Solo
Performance Commissioning Project 2008. I suspect more of the same
practicing - alternating solos and group practice sessions beginning
at 9 a.m. and ending at 6. We've all got to have some time for
packing and a party at Deborah's house at the end of the day. But
before thinking about that ....

I hope that I get to solo today. I went early in the last round and
may have used up my solos. My last attempt turned out funny. Not
funny Ha Ha, but funny Odd as an experience. I've been having issues
with focus - which is probably a bad word to use - I should rather
say SEEING. The issue with my seeing has been that it has been too
fixed and too far away. Now this makes me think of something that
happened to me during the running of SITI company's BOB. I remember
Mary Overlie came to see the show and found me afterwards to talk
about it. She enjoyed it I remember, but one of the things which she
said to me, which really changed things for me since then, was that I
had a good close focus and medium focus, but that I had to work on
infinite focus. Well this just blew my mind and I realized that she
was right. One of the 'hooks' I had into doing BOB was the extremely
near focus, and alternating that with a medium focus - or the room in
which I was playing. This would take into account the presence of the
audience, but not allow me to "play" them too much - but play with
them and with their own focus and expectations. And so after this
conversation with Mary I've been working on far and/or infinite focus
every since.

For my first solo attempts here for Deborah she has said to me that my
focus A) is too fixed, and B) is too far away. And so I've been
working on seeing nearer - rather seeing what I'm seeing. Deborah and
I have a laugh about it because I told her the Mary story. Now this
may sound really trivial, or obvious, or you may think, "Well good
grief I'm always seeing what I'm seeing, what else am I seeing?" Ah,
but bring your noticing to that and ask yourself, are you really? I
think you'll quickly find that you are, yes, looking at things which
allows you to navigate your surroundings without tripping or stubbing
your toe, or casually reading warnings and directional signs, purely
superficially and functionally. But there is a difference between
Looking and Seeing as you know. And the seeing remember is what feeds
your work - it is the quality of seeing that keeps you going at all on
the stage - an it is the seeing which feeds the 'what ' you do with
your dance.

Anyway, with the last solo I did, I decided really to work on the
seeing nearer myself and also not to do so much. I thought of Mary's
"do the NOT to do" and remembered Deborah's note that I am reaching
too much for the dance (probably a function of my infinitely far
seeing) and that I am initiating too much with my arms, rather I
should maintain a tension in the legs and hips and initiate from there
and see where the arms might find themselves. So I really reigned in
the dance - or the showing. Consequently the dance seemed very short,
and I wondered that I might have missed some sections. The others
said no that I had not missed anything and that the sections of the
dance were very clear and readable. (In fact a few people said they
enjoyed the dance and thought it my best crack at it so far.)
Deborah, however, looked a little mystified. She thought that I
missed a lot of the dance and couldn't read much of it. She felt that
I had "blown off" the dance a little too much. But she was very happy
that I did because the seeing was better (though far too close to
myself) and the body was too released or relaxed. Brother! I went
too far in the other direction. But she was very clear that she was
glad that I did that. It was movement in the right direction - I just
overshot. Which is my nature anyway. I called it "the dance that
didn't happen" which she thought was very funny and really liked the
idea. But as it was this wasn't quite it.

And so I am hoping to have a crack at it again today. There are some
other dancers who've yet to do their final solo so we'll see if there
is time. Of course I will be able to do group practice, and group
I'LL CRANE FOR YOU. I've been hoping that we can do duo's or trio's
of the dance. It was so beautiful when we did groups of 6 or 7.
Perhaps I'll suggest that we do these smaller groups just to give us
all one more chance and to have the visual stimulus of more intimate
groups. There'll still be the performance pressure, but there will be
the visual information of 1 or 2 others there to help us. We'll see.

Okay, I've been typing this from bed this morning. It's 7:15 a.m. and
I've given myself the gift of a bit of a lie in this morning. I've
been up so early every day to do yoga and meditate and just get my
body moving before going to practice. I'm not getting more limber as
the days go on, but more sore and stiff. So it takes some time to get
going. But today, the last day, I don't want to be tired, so I've
stayed in bed and luxuriated here with you for a few minutes. Now it's
time to get moving, and EAT, my god I'm ravenous all the time here!
From the moving, the exhaustion, the sea air, all of it I'm sure.

Okay, more later, again I hope this is interesting to you and helpful.

More later. In fact I'll write after this final day, but once done
here, there will be the required daily practices for the next 4 months
(I think DH is extending the required practice period) which I think
I'll keep a record of as well ....

ciao, bondo

Thursday, September 4, 2008

... 4 September

"The SEEING want's to be more fluid. Rather than "looking at,"
invite "being seen seeing."

Now this is the big deal really (for me today that is). Seeing is the
conversation. As I may have quoted earlier, "What if how I see while
I am dancing is a means by which movement arises without looking for

Right. So not only is, not what you see, but how you see, the source
of inspiration to keep moving AT ALL on the stage, but to "invite
being seen seeing" also creates presence and visibility - on both
sides - and a kind of creative equality between the spectator
(audience) and the spectatee (performer). Does this follow? I hope
so. Again, sitting in the middle of it as this new life is flying
around me and assimilating language and feelings (and sore muscles and
brain cells) makes it difficult to be, sound, feel articulate. But
some of these ideas are truly related to work and discussions -
certainly that we've had in SITI company. Like the idea that the
audience doesn't see what you see, but sees you SEEING what you see.
All toward the issue of visibility as a performer.

And again, "Don't give the audience anything they can go on in you."
Now this is not for the sake of obscurity, but for mystery. "What if
the depth of the question is on its surface" which is something Robert
Wilson certainly says and repeats. I get it better now though (even
though I quoted that line for 10 years doing BOB.) But as theater
performers (and DH asked me about this today in the group practice
whether it is the same in the theater - which I affirmed) we know that
the audience is incredibly smart and has all the advantage -
especially if the story is HAMLET or some well know text. And so the
moment the audience can pin down what you are doing, you are dead in
the water, and will have a devil of a time getting back. Not
impossible. But really hard. The goal is not to hold back, but to
make ALL of it possible ALL at once. It's actually more generous in
the end isn't it.

or ... "make choices that can't be read in any one way -- IN THIS
MATERIAL" she is clear to say. In this material. This is about
being smart. As smart as the audience. To stay ahead if not with
them so that both sides can live in the mystery of what is going on.
On the surface. As Robert Wilson says, "underneath it can be
complicated, about a million things. The surface has to be about one
thing only."

Know that I am quoting DH and also interpreting, going on about, filling you in on MY take on it so far, etc. so don't hold me to anything for the moment. I'm not giving you "anything to go on."

Okay, super hungry.

I hope this is feeding you in some way.



the altar

home sweet home

home sweet home

some reference

If you go to D Hay's website you'll find an article she wrote: HOW DO

"I recognize my choreography when I see a dancer's self-regulated
transcendence of his/her choreographed body within in a movement
sequence that distinguishes one dance from another."

The entire article is worth the reading and explains some things about
this project I am on.

Just a quick note on lunch break. Now going to "skype" Paddo
Henry ....

4 September 08

Two days left.

I should say right away that I've been using the word "rehearse" and
this is a misunderstanding. Really we are performing each time. After
each solo Deborah gives notes or comments on the "performance." And
so there is the "performance" pressure. We work as though always
performing. It reminds me of the suzuki work in that one practices
always with the understanding, or the created fiction, that one is in
performance. In this way there is always the extra edge to the work,
there is a particular kind of attention one must pay to the moments,
and a minimum of energy required.

The word "articulation" came up. Someone asked about program notes in
our performances of the adaptations. DH is very clear that program
notes are helpful and good. Her thinking is that any time an artist
has the opportunity to articulate to the audience, or to the
performance community, or to the culture at large, then one should
take that opportunity. We have to. It is what we do. And necessary
- especially in the USA where it is so hard to make and create work.
She read to us the opening lines of a Sam Beckett story called THE
END. (Which is ironic because this is one of the stories required for
the students of a class at Skidmore that I am co-teaching). But these
lines for DH are a statement of the situation of the artist at this
time in the American culture. Look it up. I don't have the book with
me at the moment, but I'll transcribe them a little later. Anyway
this word "articulation" is very much a word we are using in the SITI
company. Tell the story we say. Anne has spoken and written about
the "violence of articulation" in one's life and in one's work. You
can read more about that in Anne's writing.

"Surrender" is a big word right now. "What if my choice to surrender
the pattern of fixing on a singularly coherent idea, feeling, or
object, when I am dancing - is a way of remembering to see where I am
in order to surrender where I am?" This is one of the questions we
"practice." And ultimately IS the dance. There are more which I
won't reproduce here.

I have to be here in order to surrender being here - in order to
surrender the moment.

This is a mind blowing thought. It is not just about giving away each
moment. But the absolute presence in each moment which is then
surrendered to the next. But one cannot simply always surrender
submissively. One must absolutely work in such a way that one is
really here before one can surrender. It's a beautiful and incredibly
difficult thing to practice. But the results when I see them in
others are variously powerful and touching.

If it is true what the Sufi master says, that "you are not your
thoughts" then who am I? Well I have a body, and it has it's own
intelligence and can save me from my own thoughts which constantly
interrupt, judge, second guess, sabotage, and freeze the dancer. And
this is dance after all, so we get moving and listen to what the body
wants, what it is saying, getting what it needs, SEEING where I am,
and then surrendering to the next moment.

Again, this is heady and difficult to write out like this - especially
as I am just in it and struggling with it and feels a little unfair to
lay out here in this format. It is artist work. It is radical in
this practicing. But what I am seeing in the dancers is just

I will come back home and do "performance practice" every day for the
next several months before attempting a public showing - as will all
the other participants. We can talk about it more then.

So now to more dancing. Thank you for reading and listening. Have a
great day! Or night for most of you.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3 September 08

Good Morning everyone,

It is 8:30 a.m. here in the studio.
I am here to get what little internet reception there is available and
make some contact. DH is here next to me and Celine is too. We just
exchange some laughs about the Bush speech last night. Am I right? I
was just told that NBC broadcast the speech to the convention from the
white house with gaping silent holes in the speech where there should
have been applause and cheers? Is that true. What a surreal
experience it must have been to see it.

And what is the news on New Orleans? Bless them.
DH just told me that some of her family in Cecilia, LA are reporting
flooding, power outage, trees down and they are camping out. This is
near Lafayette I believe isn't it which too a major hit during the
last flood. That's what news I have.

Here it is getting cooler during the days and especially at night.
Wet to be sure, but not stormy. Very dramatic sunrises and sunsets.
The rhythm of the days unfold with DH and participants arriving early,
sitting in a line along one wall of the studio where internet
reception works and there you would see if you were sitting center of
the studio a row of macs and pc's, bowed heads and the tap tap of
furiously typing fingers. Some laughing and chatting for those
skyping loved ones or business associates around the globe. It is a
funny sight. Some disembodied voices from the computers speaking in
all kinds of languages .... But we cannot let the world intrude too
much. There is a deep meditation on this dance. We are rehearsing
from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day. Individual practice, group
practice, and repetitions of solos over and over again. Bodies are
getting tired. Spirits are good I think. But the information
gathered from the bodies and the space and from one another builds and
the "attempt" to "do" it one realizes gets more and more difficult -
even though there is simultaneous clarity. And to see a dancer after
20+ minutes of solo'ing gasping for air, or sweating, or limping to
the side lines for notes from Deborah is inspiring I think. It is
hard work. It costs. 20+ minutes of solo almost entirely improvised
based upon choreographic prompts from the choreographic "script" is
hard work. One loses one's way, one loses hope, one thrills to the
moment when the practice is present, or one manages to remember the
practice. In fact, as DH has said, the choreography is really a trick
to get you to doing the practice. In fact I should be clear that "the
practice" is not a good thing to say. As she has insisted, there is
no "practice." It is not a noun. It is a verb. We are practicing.
Practicing what? you might wonder. Well I have to go practice
now ... so ponder that for a time and I'll get back to you in a little
while ..... meanwhile some pictures of the tide out in the bay,
Celine from Paris, Sandy (living in Brussels I think) and Deborah and
Tanya (from Luxembourg I believe)

Sunday, August 31, 2008


by the way that is Deborah Hay, Julie working on a solo, Genvieve, and
Yvonne. Yes there are boys here too (I think there are 4 of us) but I
haven't gotten their pictures yet. You do see Sandy dancing in one of
the photos - he's a ROSAS dancer ... FAST!

31 August 08

So we've just finished our Sunday rehearsal at 9 p.m. Everyone has
gone through I'LL CRANE FOR YOU as a solo now. So that nerve wracking
process has been accomplished. It's fantastic everyone's different
take on the piece. And then we go back into it between times to
perform it as a group and find yet again new material, new sensations,
new information, new news. And Deborah is able to give such specific
notes to everyone which is so helpful. Actually it is helpful simply
to take all the notes she gives to people and accept them for oneself.

There is a lot of adrenalin in these solos. There is a lot of
adrenalin in the room. Deborah is very clear that this solo can in no
way be adrenalin driven. One must find a way to put that down and
"get what you need and nothing less." Helps with the blind adrenalin
rush. And this "getting what one needs" is what allows the performer
to transcend the habit of Time. That is to say, that Time must be
dealt with, but not simply as "I'll change time here" but that if one
is insisting on "getting what I need" then one will transcend the trap
or habit of time. What do I mean by time? Well in the dumb way just
from getting into a fixed rhythmic pattern.

What am I saying here? Well, that the choreography as such isn't
really the point, but experiencing the dancer dealing with Space &
with Time is the point. In fact as Deborah keeps saying, "be crafty
about Time & Space because there is not a lot else happening ...." I
love this -- get right to the point. Of course there is a lot
happening, but that's a secret ... sssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh ....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

30 August 08

Day 4.

It is amazing how quickly we are working. My body is feeling it and
my mind is ALIVE.
We finished by talking about the 'contract' we will make with Deborah
about how to proceed once these 10 days of choreography have ended.
What the practice is and how long one is expected to practice after
we've finished here before attempting public performance. Really it
is a way for Deborah to protect herself and ensure that the
performances that result from her choreography and direction are
honored. It is a fair expectation. And it is a radical act she is
putting into the world. These 20 people she barely knows will perform
her work. And then what is it WE bring to the event? How do we meet
her as performers? What do we offer? What will be the 'frame' as we
are calling it for our own adaptations? Good questions. And honorable.

Out of the 20 here, 10 have now offered the 1st solo version/attempt/
crack at the choreography in front of our peers. Really it is nerve
wracking. But it is also true, as Deborah says, that what we
attempting is impossible. And so one watches the others with a great
deal of respect and compassion. We are a real mix of experiences --
some are dancers, some are dancer/choreographers, some have their own
dance theater companies, some are performers meaning "theater people"
I think, and I of course fall into this latter. It is also true that
we all are attempting to eliminate, or somehow diminish our
"choreographed" bodies / selves from the work. Our choreographed
bodies mean the behavior, trained expectations, habits accumulated
from our professional work, as well as the bodies which have been
choreographed by the cultures in which we live. How to get down to
the "authentic self" underneath all the habit, assumption, behavior
patterns, and choreography? Practice. This dance is called a
performance practice. It is a way of seeing. And it is understood
too that the audience is practicing as well while watching the
performer. We are all practicing. There is nothing to show, but the
attention paid in the moment and a way of seeing.

This is getting perhaps a little too heady, and I am simply trying to
wrap my head and myself around it as I work and as I type this.

What is true is that we are all learning the same choreographic
"script" provided by Deborah. What HAPPENS is that each time we do it
it looks very different from the last time we did it, and very
different from those attempts of each of the other performers. There
will be 20 unique versions of I'LL CRANE FOR YOU, and each of these
will change with each successive performance. Get it? Yeah, right?!

Okay, We're all scrambling for inconsistent internet connection and
wondering about the political scene at home (those of us from the
USA). We're a little isolated here.

I hope that this blog situation is interesting, or informative, or
something for you.
I'll keep cracking at it.

Best to all of you. Sending love and respect.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

the drive

The following contain the gardens of Cawdor Castle,
The drive into the highlands including Dalwhinnie and Tomatin (good
single malts),
My short cut walk from the B&B through the gorse to rehearsal,
The doorway into the studio / theater which is called Universal Hall,

Deborah Hay checking her email

going to Findhorn

more highlands not far from Dalwhinnie



Cawdor Castle for my MacBeth friends ....

Findhorn bay

2 minutes from my B&B

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

27 August 08

Hello Everyone,

I've just finished day 1 of the SPCP and it has been a mind bending day.  We spent the morning getting acclimated to the environment.  Findhorn is a small experimental village community which began in the late 60's / early 70's as, well here is a blurb from the village website:

"The Findhorn ecovillage is a synthesis of the very best of current thinking on sustainable human settlements. It is a constantly evolving model providing solutions to human and social needs, while at the same time working in partnership with the environment to offer an enhanced quality of life for all."

You can log on to read more about it.  There are relationships with the UN and with various ecological and humanitarian organizations all over the world.  

But that is not why I am here.  It just happens to be a great place to isolate oneself and to concentrate on the work at hand.  It reminds me of conversations in the SITI company in which we realize how important it is for us to find places as a company to get away from the distractions of NYC and really have nothing to do but rehearse and work.  It is not unlike the feeling of being in Toga where there really is only the training and the festival, and the rest of the time is spent resting or healing or pitching in with the dorm cleaning, the dish washing, the ushering for the festival, rehearsing, etc.  The work at hand is foremost in one's thoughts and bodies and thereby it (the work) simply gets done more efficiently. We, SITI, make most of our work, or portions of it, away in either Prague, or Actors Theater, or Japan back in the day, and similar situations.  

In fact being here has reminded me of my first trip to Toga Mura, Japan.  There is the same feeling of traveling into the unknown.  There is the strong feeling of "knowing" somehow that this is the right thing at the right time.  Going to Toga when I was 24 was a life changing experience.  It still is.  I had no true idea even then that one could be an actor - not really.  But I was going to graduate school and doing lots of plays until one day Kelly Maurer said to me, You really must go to Toga and do this work and I'll help you.  And she did;  and I did.  I arrived that first night after 2 days of travel straight to the mountain and was hustled to the outdoor theater and stood in the back for the performance of SCOT company's THE TROJAN WOMEN.  It was then and there that I realized that this is what people can do in the world.  I felt my entire being shift, my brain, rewire, the tears rolling down my face, and stood open-mouthed in this beautiful theater in the remote regions of the Japan alps watching these animal-actors transport themselves and 1000 spectators from all over the world deep into the human psyche.  And from that day onward nothing has been the same. I remained to train for 9 weeks. It changed again 8 years later when the SITI company was formed there.  And that has been a 16 year journey which began with that night of THE TROJAN WOMEN under the stars.  Nothing has been the same.

And now I am writing this late at night outside the theater here in Findhorn, beyond the scottish highlands, just near the sea where I can hear the gulls even as I write, under the stars (which are covered over by clouds I'm afraid and might be for the 11 days I'm here).    It feels familiar somehow.  I don't want to unfairly overlay it with expectations, but I feel the similarities.  And this work of Deborah Hay which has shifted the thinking of so many artists who've danced her dances from Australia to France to the US and elsewhere, from the unknown and lesser know, to the likes of William Forsythe.  To hear the stories of the dancers here and what they've seen of Deborah's work.  Deborah really wanted to hear how the fund raising went for everyone.  So we all sat around her accommodations and told the story of how we managed to raise the money by asking our friends, our peers, our colleagues and our families to help.  We each had to tell a story and try to be articulate and make it happen.  I told the story of the 7 hour movement marathon I did in the Skidmore dance theater.  One spoke of asking his family with whom he hasn't communicated in a long time who don't even really know what he does or how he lives.  They agreed that he should do his solo he's making here for them in their homes.  And so now he "has a gig" as he says -- he will perform for his family and reunite and show them what he does.  A reintroduction of a kind.  So many stories.  Deborah was clear at the end of it all that what she was learning was that we all had to be articulate and tell our stories, our linear stories about this non-linear experience that we are having -  our work.  We learned that even the French who've got a ministry of culture and they and the world assumes that no one is going to donate to them and support them because the government is there for them.  Well this is changing rapidly in the present global and political climate.  The Americans in particular were shocked.  We assume no government support and know that we have to ask for private help.  

Anyway, this is turning into something else.  I simply wanted to say to all of you who donated and took a chance to help me get here that you were very much in the room with me, with all of us telling our stories, and you will be in the programs of all these dancers listed among all of THEIR patrons too.  It will be a kind of book and testament to the people creating and the ownership of this work which is in the hands of you and people like you all over the world.  And if you add your name to the 10 year list of people who've pledged to participants of the Solo Performance Commissioning Project, you realize just how big a net is being thrown - globally.  Thank you.

I have pictures and things to send.  Internet is difficult  to get right now, so I am typing fast with very cold fingers under the one light available outside here in the dark before I lose the wifi connection.

More to follow.  My very best wishes.  
Good night.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Re: 7 Hour Movement Marathon

One thing I didn't speak about in the previous entry is that on February 10 I walked into the Skidmore College dance theater and at 2 p.m. began "moving", and continued until 9 p.m. I want to say thank you to Mary DiSanto Rose, Lori Dawson, Debra Fernandez, Peter Kober, and the Skidmore dance department for allowing me the time in the space. I managed all 7 hours with only 2 three minute breaks for personal time and food. I also had some help from Debra Fernandez, Margo Mensing, and several students who came by to dance with me. I appreciated the time and energy. As it is the pledges toward the 7 hours are coming in and I am very close to making my "nut" toward the SPCP tuition. I'll be writing you all individually to say thank you, but here it is in the meantime.

I have mini DV footage and if I can figure out how to format it I'll post it here.


Sent from the bondophone

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Solo Performance Commissioning Project

This is the beginning of what I know will be a thrilling and daunting
journey. I have so many friends and family to thank for making it
As you know I have been on a fund raising campaign to be able to
attend the Deborah Hay workshop this August in Findhorn, Scotland.
Deborah requires that participants raise money from their community of
peers, friends, and family rather than simply paying out of pocket,
or appealing to funding agencies. What's more, anyone who funds me
also becomes a funder of all the other participants of the workshop
and will be listed as such in any and all of their programs &
publicity for any future performances.
It feels truly political. What does that mean? Now I get confused
about what qualifies as political or not, but it has something to do
with making a statement; it has something to do with bucking the
system; It has something to do with bringing unrelated, or
unfamiliar, or unique ideas together against certain odds and
expectations. It creates a global network of everyday people who
support the commissioning and thereby own the art.
It feels radical to me ...

... Like Deborah Hay's work.

I went to see Deborah Hay's. "O,O" on February 8 at St. Mark's
church. This was done with a recast version of the French company. I
am still dreaming about it and only want to see it again. What did I
learn? I learned that if you try to create a dream on stage then what
you get (and probably deserve) is a "dream", but if you put something
real on the stage you get a DREAM. A dream that stays with you. What
these dancers are doing is so exposed and generous and charming and
funny and pure presence. This is it - pure presence. A tired word in the performing arts I know, but here it is in all its glory
and embarrassment. Embarrassing for the viewer and the doer as well
I'm sure. Here's to embarrassment. Here's to presence. Here's to being

I'll be using this post to record all things SPCP in case anyone is
interested, and to keep those of you who helped me up to date on my

Thank you again.


Sent from the bondophone

Poem of the day (or whenever I change it)

Always the setting forth was the same,
Same sea, same dangers waiting for him
As though he had got nowhere but older.
Behind him on the receding shore
The identical reproaches, and somewhere
Out before him, the unravelling patience
He was wedded to. There were the islands
Each with its woman and twining welcome
To be navigated, and one to call ``home.''
The knowledge of all that he betrayed
Grew till it was the same whether he stayed
Or went. Therefore he went. And what wonder
If sometimes he could not remember
Which was the one who wished on his departure
Perils that he could never sail through,
And which, improbable, remote, and true,
Was the one he kept sailing home to?

By: W.S.Merwin