Thursday, September 4, 2008

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.


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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