Author Archive

Breaking Structure

October 21, 2013

When we started this blog the idea of daily practice was so specific. We meet in the studio, with a defined improvisational structure of 3 minutes of doing; taking turns so that we also experienced 3 minutes of watching. We asked ourselves questions about if we were “on” and what that meant. Years later, while this improvisational structure still comes in and out of my dance practice and my creative process – I look at the title “daily practice” and I think about the questions of being “on”, of “doing” and “watching” and I realize I am still deeply interested in these topics, but i no longer want to compartmentalize my experience with them to a rigidly structured and controlled environment. The idea of practice (or what we traditionally call practice in our field) no longer feels adequate in a discussion about daily practice, being on, watching and doing, and the body as an instrument for making art and performance. I find practice is no longer always such a formal and familiar setup – in a dance studio, “dancing” – but rather a daily practice of tuning into ones body and being present, in varying scenarios and activities. It feels critical to let the ideas of daily practice permeate more aspects of my life. As I age I feel that my work as an artist and dancer is not confined to my work in the studio and on the stage. That everything that happens to me, or that I do, resides in my body and becomes a part of my art and my work. That my former idea of practice or what it means to be “on” has been only superficially researched by framing it in such a rigid and controlled environment. So I am going to engage with the ideas set forth in this blog, but break out of the structures that have been put in place. I am not entirely sure what it will look like but I am curious and will try to share my questions and discoveries here.

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Where dp meets performance work

October 25, 2008

Performing in Tami Stronach’s “But it’s for you… ” at Danspace Project this weekend I am begining to really see/feel the impact of daily practice in a performance setting. Although the concepts we explore in daily practice come from our experiences performing, this is the first time I have really felt them effect my approach to and experience performing. It is a most exhilerating experience to have pulled particular questions from performance and explored them outside of a formal performance setting and now feeling the deepening of performance because of it. All of the work to find something genuine in front of “eyes”, even in it’s exploratory or unknowing stage, played a large part in my entrance into and journey through last nights performance. As I have been negotiating the relationship between improvisation and set material for some time now, I discovered a clarity in their relationship through these notions of feeling my way through something, as we have been examining in the daily practice. The notion of negotiating my way through set material rather than “dancing the steps” is not a new developement for me but can be well articulated through the seeking of that physical place where one is fully present in a moment and not “performing” but rather dialoging with a watcher with an honesty and awareness that comes from an internal sincerety and an external acknowledgement of ones environment which includes an “audience”. The obstacles are slightly different, in daily practice we are improvising and the uncertainty comes, in part, from a place of “what to do”. But the same kind of detachment from a genuine place can come from the opposite – of “knowing” what you will do.

ambient intimacy

September 14, 2008

As I begin work on our new piece, “ambient intimacy”, I am thinking about the space between us, near, far, physical, emotional, psychological… the distance we can see between our bodies… the distance we can’t see but can feel from those far off.  the closeness we can feel to someone whose physical presence is not visible but felt.  the real intimacy and the imagined intimacy that these close and far distances BOTH allow for.  Imagining this space as tangible and full.  How does that change, inform, redefine my own bodies edges, my emotional boundaries, and my physical sensations?  While these questions are examined in a much broader context for this new work, it somehow carries me back to what is a central question and exploration that keeps popping up with these daily practices.  the boundaries and edges between us as doers and watchers and the impact, both real and imagined, that we each have on one-another in both of these roles…  there is something key, keen about that space between us that is felt and permeates our own edges to blur what is you and what is me.  it is a connectedness that is both engaging and essential while also probable cause of the fear and walls that keep such a strong desire to maintain our “mask” and to keep a delineation between ourselves and others so clear.  how much are these “distinctions” necessary in order to have a real dialogue and how much must they dissolve?  what is the balance between the thickness and mobility of the space between us and the potency of our own edges…?

back to the work

August 29, 2008

back to the work in Holyoke, MA with Jason and Christian.  feels good to be embodying more of the practice again.  it had started to live in my head and we attempted some video exchange (more on that another time) which turned into a solo practice for me – but it really truely lives in the body for me and in the energetic exchange that happens with real bodies in the space both watching and doing.  this session I was fascinated with observing when it “begins,” where am I?  In some sort of feeling state that asks for a presence in the now and a sensation based starting point that allows room to take in that moment and the environment and energy in the room.  also intrigued by an observation of christians after watching me, this notion that “nothing is wasted”.  what is happening when through negotiating both the environment and the moment, a heightened presence allows us to find that continuity where every action “counts”. this feels like an interesting way to stay present but somehow also simultaneously requires being present.  nothing profound but as my body enters back into this work I feel as though I am observing a creature negotiating a familiar environment where things have shifted slightly but none of this is exactly new either.  it is that moment of getting in and then the system or secret for staying in that seems highlighted in this process of RE-connecting or RE-discovering this process and investigation.  and mostly it just kicks ass to be back working in this way with these guys finding this set of questions as they reside and shift about in our moving bodies.

being present

May 21, 2008

I think I realized, probably for the hundredth time although I seem to keep forgetting this point – that being “in” is about recognizing your environment.  being IN the environment.  yesterday, watching, giving my full attention – I couldn’t help but observe the struggle to find it.  to find the thing or the moment where one can sink in, be in.  it seemed a bit like from the start there was that search, so then I suppose the search could be the thing, but not settling into that or allowing the search to be the thing or to just be the thing… one gets stuck or halted or stilted in some way… and stays that way as long as there isn’t an acceptance of that state of being.

 

taking in the environment…  being present.  which is so many things.  being present in ones body, we talk about that in technique class all the time.  not imposing or demanding but observing, accepting and responding.  being present in ones environment.  seeing, acknowledging, hearing, feeling, recognizing and responding – again.  but also being present in some other thing, that feels so much less tangible but it is so clear when I am in it.  some kind of opening to allow something to pass through the body and the moment and the improv… something unplanned, that requires being present pyhsically in order to accomplish, and requires being present environmentally in order to communicate.  but that does not come from a response, but rather comes from some other unknown or unnameable place, and then through me or the improviser it emerges… Hmmm… stated here like i know what on earth i am talking about.  probably exists more in my mind and practice as a series of questions.  maybe next time i’ll think about how to articulate that questioning through these writings more…  let them live here in words more closely to how they live in my mind and practice.

daily practice notes may 19

May 19, 2008

daily practice became such a consistent part of this past winter.  in part it was this rain or shine, sleep or none kind of consistency that became important to me.  the same way that we would move for 3 minutes and then alternate out to watch for 6 and then move for 3 and watch for 6 and just rotate seamlessly in and out of those roles, regardless of where I was at on any given day in any particular moment – watching or doing – my role was defined and the parameter was simply to find a way to be present in that role and see what would reveal itself.  showing up in short.  well what i miss, among so many other questions and discoveries from our winter daily practices, is the regularity of it.  

so here i am back in nyc, jason is in toronto, christian is in holyoke (i might be misspelling that) but i want to reestablish this kind of consistent practice, or some other kind of consistent work.  before we started daily practice it was yoga, and i’ve tried to maybe go back… but that somehow never works, as we all know.  so I need instead to build on this and go on…

well today i had my first experiment with going forward…  for the time being it seems that working solo, in unusual spaces, is going to have to be the way that I enter into this practice again.  until i can organize a free space to work in regularly and until jason returns or i decide to invite someone new into the practice.  dp today took place at the park near our house, with the public as witness.  it is amazing how differently one “performs” or dances based on the attentiveness of one’s audience…  christian – here’s one of your “ism’s” – “my performance is only as good as my audience”.  the park made me “work” so much harder – in order to try to intrigue someone to unknowingly become my witness.  to “invite” people to watch… and then sometimes I felt the opposite happen, where I would go so inside so as to almost have such a personal/intimate experience in public that I gave myself permission to say “please don’t watch – I just need to be here doing this”.  the park here is so different from the arboretum in ann arbor.   here it is a small, mostly concrete park / lots of people swarming over playgrounds and basketball courts – typical nyc neighborhood park.  the arboretum had some sense of privacy to it, where the passerby was an event because they were isolated and less frequent than constant.  here there are always many people, not just nearby, but in the space with you…  I think that finding a sense of real “presence” and honesty in this environment will actually heighten the challenge that I felt in the safety of the studio with the comfort of two witnesses who I knew where always watching and attentive but never judging.  as odd as the scenario actually is here, in some ways it is heightening/or bringing to the foreground some of the questions about the nature of performance and what it means to be “on” and honest all at the same time.  how to interact with less knowing or informed witnesses – might after a time feel like it is no longer an obstacle, or might after a time feel like it is inhibitive for the real explorations to happen – but for the time I am going to stick with it a bit and see where i land, or don’t….

old ramble

May 16, 2008

unpacking, finally, and stumbled across these old questions in a journal from this past fall…  jason suggested maybe I share…

making new work.  looking for what i am making.  unsure of a desire to make neat dances that are organized and that i understand.  that same old constant struggle with uncertainty, of not getting it.  not knowing. or not knowing the answer or making the “wrong” thing.  of not being able to articulate, to name, to understand..  

physically, intuition makes so much sense.  dancing/moving i am so keen, so ready to let go of that need to name and to understand.  as an improviser and a dancer  – turning off the mind and trusting the body.  can one choreograph with this same visceral intelligence.  as choreographer is there a way to just do. to not judge, control, think.  can i watch from outside a work and not think or analyze but feel and experience.  does the very idea of choreography necessitate these ideas of control, thought, an analytical approach.  if the work is considered, which i am pretty sure i think that it should be, what does that mean in relationship to this mind/body connection that flows so well as a mover or improviser.  leading.  following.  with the mind.  with the body.  OBSERVING with mind.   a thinking dancer who is making choices. trusting in the physical intelligence that our bodies posses. removing control or contrived movement worlds.   is the answer as simple as body following instinct when moving and mind leading observation when watching.  and than staying connected to those other ideas by keeping a balance in the process between time spent moving and time spent watching/thinking. then as soon as i ask are watching and thinking the same thing.  i answer to myself, for now, that i don’t think that they are.  do i have to answer the questions or is it more important to be asking them. exploring them.  i am interested in questions and in letting go of the idea that they need to be answered.  it is this search for the answers, or possible answers, that intrigues me.

 

In retrospect a bit of a ramble, not so sensical at times, but at the heart of this old journal entry is what i think daily practice became about for me.  the space to move and share and witness, the asking of questions in a given moment, be them our own or those in the practice with us.