Author Archive

Place and Space

May 12, 2010

I had access today and yesterday. RS2-J3.  Felt like shit yesterday so I spent my time in the space improvising to Vitiello’s music streaming off the web.  No daily practice but I did record a small improvisation.  I was just happy that I made it given how I felt.  Looks like I have the space from Wednesday to Friday and today was a better day.  I did do a sequence of three daily practice structures and I recorded the rehearsal so an outside eye is watching and I’m aware of it.  I set up the Daily Practice space in the field of view of the camera so it should have 3 minute moments of me just sitting in the chair looking at the studio.  I felt brittle and thin today, a product of the cooling weather and lack of humidity.  Since arriving in Sydney the humidity has been present most days and even in the coolish morning the temperature would rise to mid 20’s Celsius with humidity by midday.  I tried something different today structurally with the Daily Practice.  I watched the first 3 minutes and then I did the second.  Why start with doing? I find the watching is almost more potent to what I am exploring anyway.  Fidgeting and mind wandering best describes how I felt during the watching and the doing of the practice today.  Questions related to, ‘am I on’ were distant from my mind.  I’m still feeling out my body after not moving seriously for 7 or 8 months.

I did begin to question my thoughts about rehearsing alone and how that leads to madness or self-imposed torture.  Slightly dramatic thoughts I know!  I have been spending time in rehearsal spaces for the better part of 25 years.  I find it hard to work alone in a space and prefer having others to work with, but today I softened my stance on rehearsing alone.  In an odd way there is something comforting about being in a rehearsal space, even doing the Daily Practice alone brings with it a sense of familiarity and a sense of purpose.  I sometimes felt this was just me being in a situation that I knew and was familiar with but now I wonder if there is not something more to it?  An ephemeral combination of lived experience over the years that I bring to each rehearsal, each moment in the space.  A structure and place whose boundaries I understand explicitly.

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Rehearsal Space 2 – Jason 1

May 11, 2010

Well, of the three mornings I have shown up to the Dept of Education’s rehearsal space only last Friday have I had access to actually engage in a rehearsal process.  The first day the door was locked, which could be a result of me being 15 minutes late and today (Tuesday) I arrived early to find the room full of people preparing for a class.  Apparently this class wasn’t on the schedule I was given to decide when to rehearse in the space.  Not so much a complaint and more just a statement of the process so far. RS 2 – J 1.  The result of this schedule mixup will probably mean I won’t be rehearsing in the space on Tuesdays which makes my four day practice become a 3 day practice.  However, maybe I should mix up my sense of place and do the practice outside?  Sydney is beautiful and the weather is beyond what I could have expected.  I am here from Fall through Spring and it is late fall.

Since there was a mix up I thought it might be good in this post to describe the process I was going to start today and continue through the week.  I was planning to continue the mad solo version of the daily practice with watching and doing alone.  But I decided to try adding an outside eye – the video camera.  I received a Flip UltraHD in the mail yesterday from a friend and the thing is easy to use. It records video and makes it easy to post online for viewing.  So for this week I will set it up as an outside eye recording the hour of practice.   More tomorrow – hopefully in the space.

Peirce Quote

May 8, 2010

Thought is what it is only by virtue of its addressing a future thought which is in its value as thought identical with it, though more developed.  In this way, the existence of thought now depends on what is to be hereafter; so that it has only a potential existence, dependent on the future thought of the community.

No present actual thought (which is [in itself] a mere feeling) has any meaning, any intellectual value; for this lies not in what is actually thought, but in what this thought may be connected with in representation by subsequent thoughts, so that the meaning of a thought is altogether something virtual.

Accordingly, just as we say that a body is in motion, and not that motion is in a body, we ought to say that we are in thought, and not that thoughts are in us.

— Charles Peirce, Writings 2: 241,227,227n

Disconnected – Daily Practice

May 7, 2010

Back in the studio at a university again (University of Sydney) but this time as student and not teacher.  I have space from 8-9am, tues-fri in the dept. of education’s dance studio.  It is one of those dance studios that just feels like a place where work is not made.  A ‘teaching about dance’ dance studio disconnected from the professional world.  Anyway, I am starting a daily practice or some sort of form during my hour there 4 days a week.  The original collaborators are not here so I’m going to see if I can find some new folks to engage in this process.  Currently I am reluctantly and nostalgically thinking of those past sessions and the creative/inspirational fusion of what the three of us did.

Today I did a sort of mad solo recreation of the daily practice structure.  I focused on watching and doing.  I used the familiar dog bark from the timer on my iPod Touch – the same app from Lindsey’s iPhone in AA.  I set out to do a series of watching and doing repetitions starting with a 3 minute doing and then a 3 minute watching of the empty space.  I approached it as if somebody was doing the practice with me but I didn’t imagine or try to imagine some imaginary dancer/improvisor (I’m not that mad!).  I looked at the room with the same kind of experiential focus and waited for the bark from the timer, I then reset the timer and went into the space and did another 3 minute doing.  No speaking (well I WAS alone – not like that has stopped me in the past!) and when the 3 sequences of watching, doing, watching, doing, watching, doing were over I wrote some notes and left the space.  Notes I have elaborated on here.

In an odd way I did find the same focus as I did with Lindsey and Christian or maybe it is better to characterize it as a moment when the physical and mental fidgeting stopped.  This happened after the second repetition.  I was always aware/conscious it was just me recreating something that was never meant for one person.  I wonder if that thought will disappear?

Some thoughts …. I have the space for 4 weeks.  Let’s see how it progresses.

Missing —

February 20, 2009

I have been thinking about a modified daily practice.  A solo version that modifies the idea of the doer and watcher.  In this case it is still a series of 3 minute physical practices but between each 3 minute physical doing practice is 3 minutes of meditation or inward watching to compliment the doing.  The 3 minute aspect is arbitrary.  I enjoyed it in the realm of trading off 3 practices in 3 sets.  But like the video daily practice, time – the determined limitation of a length – is definitely adjustable.  Maybe the doing is not the same length as the inward watching.  My sense is the ‘meditation’ aspect would be longer then the doing but maybe that is just my need for more time to focus.

Some thoughts….

October 22, 2008

The following is an excerpt of writing I did to try and understand what it is I want to research as part of my doctorate thesis in Performance Studies.  It is a reflection on the Ann Arbor Daily Practice sessions earlier this year with Christian and Lindsey.  I decided to start from the beginning of this wild adventure I am embarking on to see how my current thoughts relate to the initial creative and intellectual stimulation that birthed this craziness.  I know that some of what is written has been posted already by both Lindsey and Christian but I wanted to share my take on it as well.  And I definitely invite clarifications on any of these thoughts from C&L as I realize my memory of that time is becoming less clear.  And I apologize for the formality of my writing, it just reflects where my writing brain is right now and maybe it is something I should be aware of …… 🙂  

—-notes—-

The root of my interest in this thesis comes from a creative research project with 2 other performers (Christian Burns, Lindsey Dietz Marchant).  For a month and a half we engaged in a daily physical/performance practice.  Monday through Friday we would meet at first inside a studio and later outside in a park.  The final structure of the daily practice evolved over the first couple weeks.  The daily practice was a bridge in many respects between technique class and rehearsal.  It wasn’t a practice focused on training the body in the way that technique class does and it lacked the goals of a rehearsal process.  We were not building a dance.  The original process started out with a ‘warming up’ of the body that would include the usual chit chat that is common during rehearsal and then we would turn to improvisation.  At first we started with solo improvisations that had a specific length.  The task of the improvisor was to have complete freedom to do ‘anything’ in a set amount of time.  Those not doing would watch and wait their turn.  In the first couple weeks this first task of the solo improviser would build to 5 minute sessions with two people improvising, or 5 minutes all improvising (no watchers), or 5 minutes without contact, five minutes all with contact.  For reasons I can’t remember now the 3 of us ended up settling on a structure of 3 minute solo improvisations rotating into the performing space 3 times for a total of 9 minutes of improvising and 18 minutes observing/watching.  The practice would last no longer then an hour and we would time it in such a way that we never went over.  It became important to me to stick to this structure and abide by it regardless of weither we wished to do another round or not. No matter how ‘good’ or dissatisfied we felt about the practice on a particular day.  The daily discipline of following the same practice became very important to me and it was fascinating to observe the initial feelings or sense data when we finished each session.

Some observations about daily practice. 

– I prefered to start the day with a daily practice and felt although without any data to backup my ‘feeling’ that it was important for me to engage in the daily practice before my mind got filled up with the responsibilities of that day and the greater responsibilities of my life.

– At the time I was teaching at a university and there was always a positive creative after effect to every daily practice.  My mind was open to new possibilities and my class became more creative and in turn more satisfying to me.

– After the end of some daily practice sessions I felt what I called the ‘two scotch’ effect.  That feeling of clarity, optimism and relaxation that I have only felt through artifical stimulation such as drugs and alcohol.  It was something that  would sneak up on me, that I could never recreate if I tried to recreate it consciously.

– Being on or off.  The phrase or question, “am I on?” grew in meaning and by the end of our daily practice sessions uttering the words ‘am I on?” meant volumes of exploration.  During the three minutes I struggled mostly with being physically honest in what I was doing.  It was a constant struggle of mind and body, conscious thoughts and unconscious impulses.  I enjoyed the struggle of ‘finding myself’ below the layers of taught craft and manufactured self-awareness.

– The doer and the watcher.  Daily practice didn’t click for me fully until I completed the loop of investigation between the doer and watcher.  It was one thing to do, but it was another thing to watch.  As the doer knowing the watcher was there was important, trusting the watchers to watch and building that trust as the doer increased my own sense of self trust to explore in those three minutes sessions.

-The way in which I watched changed from the first second to the last.  It was similar to warming up the body physically.  I went from an un focused mind to a more focused mind and with every second of watching my mind and attention became more focused on the doer.  This took a lot of concentration at the beginning of every daily practice but my ability to be distracted became harder and harder and my ability to focus and ‘watch’ and take in what the doer was doing became easier.  I sometimes felt that the ‘two scotch’ feeling started to creep into my system not when I connected as a doer but when when I connected as a watcher.

3 Days of Daily Practice in Holyoke

September 1, 2008

 

Daily Practice

Photo of Christian by Lindsey.

It was a re-connection of sorts with a new friend and a practiced idea.  Guided by Christian we went to three very different parks over three days in and around Holyoke, MA.  It was thrilling to jump back into the Daily Practice structure with Lindsey and Christian.  Although it felt mostly awkward and discombobulating for all but one of the 9, 3 minute explorations I was happy to live in that awkwardness listening to my editing voice, and my patterned voice.  And like my three minute explorations, I also found the watching difficult as well.  My mind wandering while I tried to gain the focus and thought to be in the moment as a viewer and provide that important watching feedback to the performer/explorer/improvisor/dancer who was in the middle of their 3 minute practice.  A couple thoughts were brought to the surface during these three days.  Some dealing with how I felt about my 3 minute moments, mainly trying to understand when my ‘thinking’ mind is guiding me, when my body is guiding me and when they are working closely together.  Sometimes it is the little comments that spawn a host of other thoughts or epiphany’s.  I struggled to get ‘out of my head,’  and allow the rest of my body to have more of a voice in the choices I made.  And although a relatively simple and known idea I was most satisfied physically when I acknowledged to myself that the intellectual thinking brain is still very much a part of my body and not some separate entity from the rest of my body.  Instead of fighting to turn one off and another on I just allowed them both to be on and communicate with one another.  It might sound hippie/dippy but it started to work for me.  I felt a dialogue emerge physically and mentally.  Another performative decision I made was to use some of the mediation structures that I have learned and applied them to what I was doing.  One of the meditation ‘helpers’ that I used is to acknowledge thoughts if they enter my mind while meditating.  I should put a disclaimer first that I am by far a regular meditator!  When I do meditate as soon as I realize my mind wandering I would say to myself, ‘thought.’  It is a very successful way to acknowledge what the mind is doing and it usually makes the thought disappear and clears/focuses the mind.  I applied this during the 3 minute practices but rather then acknowledge thoughts, I was acknowledging craft, choices that I was making that have been learned.  When I noticed what I was doing I just said ‘craft’ and immediately my choice became apparent to me and I broke from it.

Starting New

June 20, 2008

I started Daily Practice again in earnest today.  It is not like before.  There are some differences.  I am alone without realtime watchers, but I didn’t feel like I was doing a solo practice although I also didn’t want a real watcher.  I do want to share though…..

The idea is to record with video and post for Lindsey and Christian to watch and respond with their video posts.  It probably won’t or can’t be a strict ‘daily practice’.  Today it felt rough, not just because I was working alone in front of a camera but I was also starting again after 7 weeks of not wanting to do any moving or rehearsing or art making.  I unplugged into my thoughts as I tried to understand what I just did, what that meant and where I am now.  I guess I needed to recharge or maybe it is refocus or re-understand.  I feel more in my skin now since returning to New York.  I missed the place.  Now, I look forward to seeing how L and C respond and how successful a ‘daily practice’ can be configured in this way. It feels good to start the dialogue again.

tuning

May 23, 2008

to observe and then be observed, know you are bring observed, acknowledge it, accept it, start to feel comfortable in it; explore the boundaries and differences between knowing you are being watched and when you aren’t.  and with it is this heightened awareness of every movement, every breath and with that comes self critique of every action; the head might lead at first and then sometimes a change occurs and thoughts of structure and form, decisions and choices begin to be lead not from the head and not from the movement. the body as vessel and what is that state?!  that moment when the connections instinctually seem clear but you’re not in the head space to need to know why, because it just feels ‘right’; like tuning in to a frequency that is rarely visited.  and you know you are there because the daily practice changes. is it you or is it them? when the observer sees you tune do they tune as well?; it feels that way sometimes; I return to observing, but it feels different;  I’m focused; I see more; my thoughts clarify and the level of the daily practice increases with every 3 minute rotation and then we stop at the moment it feels ‘right’ with our imposed 1 hour structure and we change gears and go on with our day;

4/30

April 30, 2008

Daily Practice: 4/30

– today dp was class taught by Lindsey.  I had a slight epiphany when thinking about the skin as organ a CBism and then it occurred to me that the body is constantly in motion.  Slightly obvious yes but we never really stop, we are constantly moving; and going for stillness is actually more of a state then reality even our bodies are moving in constant decay as we get older.  That sense of movement and motion internally drove my phrasing in class as I worked through the physical directions I was given.  Lindsey also reminded me that Thought is Action.  Don’t forget!