Sunday, September 28, 2008

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

No comments:

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