Spring Festival 2015: meet the writers

MOVEMENT RESEARCH FESTIVAL SPRING 2015

legible/illegible: opening beyond the space of identities

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL SPRING FESTIVAL 2015 POSTS

Tune in to the MR Spring Festival online to follow blog postings by the curators and our team of festival writers, Jaime Shearn Coan and Tara Willis. We have asked the writers to respond as artists, and as such welcome their unique vantages. Read along in real-time as each share their impressions of the various festival events. In casual blog form, these writings will be offered as open-ended dialogues.

~ the curators (Layla Childs, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and Samita Sinha)

 

ABOUT THE WRITERS:

Jaime Shearn Coan is a writer and PhD student at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His writings on dance can be found frequently in The Brooklyn Rail. An inaugural Poets House Fellow and recipient of a 2014 Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, Jaime recently served as dramaturg for choreographer Mariangela López’s El Regreso. Jaime’s poetry chapbook, Turn it Over, from which he’ll be reading at The Poetry Project on May 22, is available from Argos Books.

Tara Aisha Willis is a dance artist and PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. She is Co-Managing Editor of TDR/The Drama Review, an editorial collective member of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, co-editor of a forthcoming issue of The Black Scholar with Thomas F. DeFrantz, and a summer Thesis Writing Mentor for Hollins University Dance MFA’s. Her writing is forthcoming in Movement Research Performance Journal #46. Tara also coordinates Movement Research’s Artists of Color program.

Please note: Cassie Peterson was unable to write for the festival this year;  Tara Willis stepped in!

Week Ahead July 5

This Week at Movement Research…

Classes

Morning Class with Joanna Kotze (Luis Lara Malvacías will teach Monday 7/6)
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-12pm

Qi Gong with Laurel Atwell
Monday, Friday 10am-12pm

Ballet for Contemporary Dancers with Janet Panetta
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 12-2pm

Klein Technique with Barbara Mahler
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

COREMOTION with Daria Faïn 
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

Pilates Mat Class for Dancers with Adi Eytan
Tuesday 2-3:15pm

Body, Mind and Image with K.J. Holmes
Wednesday 10am-12pm

Feldenkrais with Jimena Paz
Wednesday 12:30-2pm

Alexander Technique with Clare Maxwell 
Wednesday 2-4pm

Contact Improvisation with Chales Mosey
Wednesday 6:30-8:30pm

Adult Ballez with Katy Pyle
Monday, Wednesday 6:45-8:45pm

Contact Improvisation – The Basics with Tim O’Donnell
Thursday 6-8pm

 

Workshops

MR@BRIC Process Labs Thursdays in July from 3-6pm
July 9 Tatyana Tenenbaum
July 16 Will Rawls
July 23 Larissa Velez-Jackson
July 30 luciana achugar

 

Performances

July 7
MELT-”Movie Night” with Jennifer Monson

July 14
MELT-”Movie Night” with Kyle deCamp

July 21
MELT-”Movie Night” with Donna Uchizono

July 23
MELT Reading Groups
Moderated by Tara Willis

July 28
MELT-”Movie Night” 
Levi Gonzalez hosts Darrell Jones

July 30
MELT Reading Groups
Moderated by Marissa Perel

August 4
MELT-”Movie Night” with Neil Greenberg

August 6
MELT Reading Group
Moderated by Claudia La Rocco

  • July 3rd, 2015
  • Movement Research Staff

Week Ahead June 28

This Week at Movement Research…

Classes

Morning Class with Joanna Kotze (Luis Lara Malvacías will be teaching 7/3)
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-12pm

Qi Gong with Laurel Atwell
Monday, Friday 10am-12pm

Ballet for Contemporary Dancers with Janet Panetta
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 12-2pm

Klein Technique with Barbara Mahler
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

Morning Class with Vicky Shick
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

COREMOTION with Samita Sinha
Tuesday 10am-12pm

Pilates Mat Class for Dancers with Johanna S. Meyer
Tuesday 2-3:15pm

Body, Mind and Image with K.J. Holmes
Wednesday 10am-12pm

Feldenkrais with Jimena Paz
Wednesday 12:30-2pm

Alexander Technique with Clare Maxwell 
Wednesday 2-4pm

Contact Improvisation with Chales Mosey
Wednesday 6:30-8:30pm

Contact Improvisation – The Basics with Tim O’Donnell
Thursday 6-8pm

 

Workshops

MR@BRIC Process Labs Thursdays in July from 3-6pm
July 9 Tatyana Tenenbaum
July 16 Will Rawls
July 23 Larissa Velez-Jackson
July 30 luciana achugar

 

Performances

July 7
MELT-”Movie Night” with Jennifer Monson

July 14
MELT-”Movie Night” with Kyle deCamp

July 21
MELT-”Movie Night” with Donna Uchizono

July 23
MELT Reading Groups
Moderated by Tara Willis

July 28
MELT-”Movie Night” 
Levi Gonzalez hosts Darrell Jones

July 30
MELT Reading Groups
Moderated by Marissa Perel

August 4
MELT-”Movie Night” with Neil Greenberg

August 6
MELT Reading Group
Moderated by Claudia La Rocco

  • June 26th, 2015
  • Movement Research Staff

Week Ahead June 21

This Week at Movement Research…

Classes

Morning Class with Michelle Boulé
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-12pm

Qi Gong with Rebecca Davis
Monday, Friday 10am-12pm

Ballet for Contemporary Dancers with Janet Panetta
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 12-2pm

Klein Technique with Barbara Mahler
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

Morning Class with Vicky Shick
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

COREMOTION with Samita Sinha
Tuesday 10am-12pm

Pilates Mat Class for Dancers with Johanna S. Meyer
Tuesday 2-3:15pm

Body, Mind and Image with Karinne Keithley Syers
Wednesday 10am-12pm

Feldenkrais with Jimena Paz
Wednesday 12:30-2pm

Alexander Technique with Rachel Bernsen
Wednesday 2-4pm

Contact Improvisation with Bradley Teal Ellis
Wednesday 6:30-8:30pm

Contact Improvisation – The Basics with Charles Mosey
Thursday 6-8pm

Athletics of Intimacy with Karinne Keithley Syers
Saturday 11am-1pm
 

Workshops

IDD workshop by Claire Croizé and Étienne Guilloteau 
June 22-26

 

Coming Up…

MR@BRIC Process Labs Thursdays in July from 3-6pm
July 9 Tatyana Tenenbaum
July 16 Will Rawls
July 23 Larissa Velez-Jackson
July 30 luciana achugar

 

Performances

Coming Up…

July 7
MELT-”Movie Night” with Jennifer Monson

July 14
MELT-”Movie Night” with Kyle deCamp

July 21
MELT-”Movie Night” with Donna Uchizono

July 23
MELT Reading Groups
Moderated by Tara Willis

July 28
MELT-”Movie Night” 
Levi Gonzalez hosts Darrell Jones

July 30
MELT Reading Groups
Moderated by Marissa Perel

August 4
MELT-”Movie Night” with Neil Greenberg

August 6
MELT Reading Group
Moderated by Claudia La Rocco

  • June 19th, 2015
  • Movement Research Staff

Week Ahead June 14

This Week at Movement Research…

Classes

Morning Class with Hilary Clark
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-12pm

Qi Gong with Laurel Atwell
Monday, Friday 10am-12pm

Ballet for Contemporary Dancers with Janet Panetta
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 12-2pm

Klein Technique with Barbara Mahler
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

Morning Class with Vicky Shick
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

COREMOTION with Samita Sinha
Tuesday 10am-12pm

Pilates Mat Class for Dancers with Johanna S. Meyer
Tuesday 2-3:15pm

Body, Mind and Image with Karinne Keithley Syers
Wednesday 10am-12pm

Feldenkrais with Jimena Paz
Wednesday 12:30-2pm

Alexander Technique with Rachel Bernsen
Wednesday 2-4pm

Contact Improvisation with Bradley Teal Ellis
Wednesday 6:30-8:30pm

Contact Improvisation – The Basics with Charles Mosey
Thursday 6-8pm

Athletics of Intimacy with Karinne Keithley Syers
Saturday 11am-1pm
 

Workshops

IDD workshop by Claire Croizé and Étienne Guilloteau 
June 22-26

 

Performances

Open Performance
June 16 7PM- Last one of the season!
Moderated by Alex Escalante*
Martita Abril, Jamie Benson, There\’s No Law, Mindy Toro 

  • June 12th, 2015
  • Movement Research Staff

Movement Research at the Judson Church – June 1, 2015

Featuring works by Melinda Ring*, Sam Kim*, Alex Escalante* and Melanie Maar, Nami Yamamoto

 


A Black Cloud, Walks into a Room
Choreography/Video: Melinda Ring
Collaborators/Performers: Talya Epstein, Maggie Jones, Molly Lieber, Kayvon Pourazar
Dramaturgical Astrologer: Leslie Galbraith

This project was made possible, in part, through The Movement Research Artist-in-Residence Program, funded, in part, by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Davis/Dauray Family Fund. Additional funding provided by the Friends of Special Projects.

 


Fear in Porcelain
Choreography, Performance and Costume by Sam Kim

 

(video unpublished)
Alex Escalante/Melanie Maar
Choreographed/Performed: Alex Escalante and Melanie Maar

 


Headless Wolf (work in progress)
Directed by Nami Yamamoto
Created and performed by Matt Acheson and Idol

Headless Wolf was created, in part, with a space grant from BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange with support from the Dance Rehearsal Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Headless Wolf was also made possible, in part, throughout The Movement Research Artist-in-Residence Program, funded, in part, by the Jerome Foundation and the Davis/Dauray Family Fund.

* 2014 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence

Week Ahead June 7

This Week at Movement Research…

Classes

Morning Class with Jimena Paz
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-12pm

Morning Class with Louis Lara Malvacías
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-12pm

Qi Gong with Laurel Atwell
Monday, Friday 10am-12pm

Ballet for Contemporary Dancers with Janet Panetta
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 12-2pm

Klein Technique with Barbara Mahler
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

Morning Class with Vicky Shick
Tuesday, Thursday 10am-12pm

COREMOTION with Daria Faïn
Tuesday 10am-12pm

Pilates Mat Class for Dancers with Johanna S. Meyer
Tuesday 2-3:15pm

Body, Mind and Image with Karinne Keithley Syers
Wednesday 10am-12pm

Feldenkrais with Jimena Paz
Wednesday 12:30-2pm

Alexander Technique with Rachel Bernsen
Wednesday 2-4pm

Contact Improvisation with Bradley Teal Ellis
Wednesday 6:30-8:30pm

Contact Improvisation – The Basics with Charles Mosey
Thursday 6-8pm

Athletics of Intimacy with Karinne Keithley Syers
Saturday 11am-1pm
 

Workshops

International Dance Dialogues Workshop with Chrysa Parkinson
June 10-12

Check out future IDD workshops by Claire Croizé and Étienne Guilloteau
June 22-26

 

Performances

June 8  
MR Gala at Judson Church
6pm Cocktails 
7pm Seated Dinner by Mountain
8:30pm Performances followed by Dance Partyfeaturing performances by Daria Faïn, Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones, Cynthia Hopkins, Joanna Kotze, Heather Olson followed by dance party with DJ LVJjay (Larissa Velez-Jackson)

Open Performance
June 9 7PM
Ni’Ja Whitson Adebanjo** Amity Jones, Adriane Lee, Katiana Rangel

  • June 5th, 2015
  • Movement Research Staff

BETWEEN / ECSTATIC / BEYOND: May 15, 16, 17

blind-written notes from SOMETHING OF THE ECSTATIC

blind-written notes from SOMETHING OF THE ECSTATIC

BETWEEN
Plastic wrap coiled to spring or melt, spiral script in white against the marley’s black ground: a synthetic glisten tightly wrapped around Jumatatu Poe’s pelvis, ass, thighs, genitals, and up the chest, faulty at the shoulder and with a loose end needing constant re-tucking. Hip-drop on the unexpected syncopated next beat. I notice, entering the theater, his brow furrowed in focus; I empathize and wonder at once about the effort to sustain that attention, the choice to furrow the forehead, looking down at the task at hand (both the plastic to be wrapped and the hip slip rhythm to be maintained). The expression on his face seems both a coherent decision on Poe’s part and a necessary byproduct. Hold the roll ever gently and wait for the next move to mesh.

Squeak and squawk at once, pull back and forth; let a small part loose against the soft pallet (how is it that sometimes watching dance I can see the invisible happening in bodies?); and in the throat gutter it becomes babytalk (“yes little mama” “aren’t you just…”); fast, fresh, so fresh-a, hands on plastic hips, hips like a lullaby; feeling the fight in the moving, call it in with your feet, then vaudeville, then articulate/dislocate. The phrase “deep black somatic praxis” comes strongly to my fingers while watching.

Mining these notes scrawled on a program during May 15th’s BETWEEN THE NO LONGER AND THE STILL TO COME, I’m reminded in retrospect of Jaime and I’s conversation as we generated ideas for our co-written post, “notes on what we’re doing here.” We talked about the possibility of a THIRD, between-ish way of watching performance, other than watching as an audience member with an eye to the piece or watching as a critic/reviewer with an eye to the piece as it might be translated, comprehended, or transfigured into language later. That THIRD way: watching as writing practice, watching the dance with your pen and paper in the dark, the performance jumping through your fingertips into language at that moment, not for or towards a “later.”

This is something Megan Bridge pointed out in the Placing Performance discussion. Those notes in the dark, written over, scribbled, double and triple layered onto themselves, often indecipherable, tend to produce far more interesting and quixotic descriptive language about performances, which is to say, they tend to produce a more complicated relationship between the dance and its textual response than description produced afterwards, or even written while the house lights are up and the page can be glanced at as you go. This has been on my mind: this blindness to words as they are made, as a mode of seeing.

Something else that was said at Placing Performance: making art is making universes.

Some notes from The Medicine of Art workshop with Dr. Stephen Cowan:

is faith or belief the decision to rely on what you don’t know, to step out of the narrator mind that constantly wants to make clear, ordered sense of things, to find reasons, explanations, and causal trajectories for things? relying on the fact that you don’t know.

what would a literacy of the wordless be? how to teach it? how to teach comprehension beyond “about”ness?

ECSTATIC
Walking into the back room at Tandem Bar feels exposed and enfolded. Pink clip lights throw party and night out and show around the small square room, and everyone hugs the walls to leave the center open for performances. But we’ll move back and forth between each to one side or the other as requested, and everyone will gladly pick up their bags and drinks and relocate: we are here and in it and eager to be both.

Swift sweeping arms cut the projected video of, maybe, cityscapes and motion, motion, motion, through which Lion and Kia Labeija move side-by-side and deeply ON POINT, occasionally trading or invading each other’s space sharply, lovingly, then moving on to the next thing. Their bodies like the realist of ghosts in the flicker, confused with their shadows and the pound of the music. When the projection and music go out, their everywhere-rhythm goes on steady and alone, then drops away, rising delectably, slowly again into speed. The sound of All Stars brushing the floor is everything. There are only arms moving, only these two dancers looking dead at each other in the dark, creating something solid in the air between them.

Antonio Ramos is always PERFECT with the music’s break/drop: the glorious quantity of high kicks, his hair, exploding with spectacular relief into its release from the mirror-ball helmet he was wearing, becomes (in my eye’s memory, filled with glitter and spinning lights) like a dipping weight at the other end of his always flying leg, giving all of it, dropping dropping, and sometimes withholding just enough of the beat from us in his body, beguiling grin and ecstatic glow, he throws it all down when the moment is right without ever seeming to have held back and we are there completely, unable to not love and love and applaud.

Two nights in a row I’ve seen Dana Michel languish on the floor, a languishing that goes on and on and becomes a way of life or being. Slithering through the doorway like a slug leaving a residue of crumpled white bread:
what is loose? what hangs and breaths low to the ground? what carries everything with it, what is a lump, what is limp, what is heavy, what is lumpy and losing grasp and holding on for dear life without urgency? what sinks and slips and gives up while going on? what is actually survival and what is it to be that debauched, desolate, destroyed ongoing thing that just does its thing and chuckles to itself?

the white wrap around her locs pulling off is a less dramatic release tonight than last night, quick like a band-aid tug
digging in the black tent, she sits in it, it is part of her body, she is part of it
hair flies back, breast out, again and again to properly place each thing
shhhhh…
this walk/saunter/fail requires proper placement of parts
the mess she made
coke cans, bread, halogen lamps, debris, cups, containers rising up like so many growths from the ground

You’ll notice I don’t know how to write about music performances, like the evening of Tongues in Trees at Barbes, or this second performance by Sunny Jain now with Samita Sinha. It’s simply all around/in/beyond the bodies and the room, and it soaks in until we’re drenched.

I did not take a picture of the sweat line that made its way down my shirt like an elaborate necklace while dancing to DJ Rekha, but the next day it occurred to me that it would have been better evidence of the ecstatic than any text I might write here.

BEYOND
legible/illegible, beyond the space of identity:
This “beyond” at first made me uncomfortable when I saw the Festival announcement. It’s dangerous territory and the word incites a tremor of protectiveness in me. I’m accustomed to calls for getting over, beyond, away from identity being laced with equal parts good intention and dismissive disregard. But then again, the space of identity is just as treacherous, if not more so. This is a Festival in which that “beyond” – that moving past – is not a dismissal but rather a gesture of healing, a reparative space for looking out over the legible/illegible nature of identity, the ways “we fear/fail to see an-other,” and attend to the “unseen, unheard of, misconstrued, inchoate, messy, untidy, unpackaged, and missing.” These are all words from the curatorial “CLOUD OF IDEAS” in the Festival brochure. And in moving through the Festival itself, I feel deeply grateful to have the words these three curators produced together, especially their open description of their curatorial process. Chatting with them off and on at events, I am struck by the particular love they’ve developed for each other and the way it has shaped a not-simple space: I feel surrounded by their caring, careful thought at each event, a space available for being unsettling/unsettled as needed as a practice for healing.

Descriptive writing about experiences is like skywriting – pushing words into the air of the event. But sometimes I want to just hold it all in memory without changing the nature of it – not so much out of resistance to working it through in words or language (I roll in those all day, willingly), but because I don’t want it to change its form, how it lives in the after-dregs: it’s a matter of what kinds of ephemera we want to have and to make. The blur of discourse around and including the thing. The experiential recollections are part of that. But sometimes I don’t want to produce any other part of the blur than the one I hold already. “The ether of the day,” as I described it to Jaime in our friend’s car on the way back to the city from Mt. Tremper Arts upstate for the final day of the festival, THE WILD BEYOND/FINAL CLEARING. And then I wrote that phrase down. My notes from that day consist of jotted feelings about having to write about the day, but nothing about the day itself. This “clearing” is like the “beyond” in the festival title, and the other half of the “opening” of the first night at Judson Church. It is energetic and it is literal/geographic: Mt. Tremper feels like an open, surrounded world in the woods, and we spent the last moments of the festival in a silent circle in a grassy clearing just up the hill.

I found myself blinded by the sun and holding my arm up into it, playing the light along one side of my limb’s skin and surface in a starkly gradated fade towards dark on the side in shadow. The fingers moving against the blue sky, the fearlessness of the shape, and the freedom to move it strangely, like an unknown quantity or quality in the air.

—Tara Aisha Willis

  • May 23rd, 2015
  • Spring Festival

DAY 7: THE WILD BEYOND / FINAL CLEARING / MOUNT TREMPER ARTS

 

Where is your own true north?

 

We set out from midtown in the first of two vans. No traffic in sight and the sun shining hotly even though it was supposed to be cloudy. About an hour and a half later, at the urgent request of some bladders, we took an exit that promised a gas station. Moments after we pulled up, the other van did too—clear evidence of dancer gravity. One rider had overdressed and was too hot and got re-wrapped in a friend’s sarong. The tire pressure was checked, Bergamot essential oil was sprayed, and we took off.

 

We arrived into summertime paradise: Mount Tremper: tables of exquisite food and shade and a garden, countless trees visible on the facing mountainside. More cars arrived. I wonder who would come and who wouldn’t. Soon it was time to enter the studio for Pauline Oliveros’s Deep Listening workshop.

 

You are at the center and the sound widens out.

 

It was cool in there, with the high, open ceiling. We sat on the floor in a circle. Pauline and her partner Ione, a beautiful butch-femme elder couple, stood to greet us, Pauline’s violet button-down setting off her handsome silver-white hair and Ione’s deep plum blouse accenting her piled-up dark hair. We began with an exercise to awaken our listening bodies. Pauline then led us in a listening meditation. I laid down and listened to birds, cars, the shots from a nearby shooting range, breath, rustling fabric, stomach rumblings, and diving planes that seemed on the verge of entering the room.

 

Something catches you and you follow.

 

Next we were asked to choose a song. A simple one that we knew very well. We walked around the space, dragging out each note to the length of a breath. It felt and sounded like we were making church. Our voices became unfamiliar, beautiful, sonorous—we walked slowly, shuffling like sleepwalkers. Passing to different points in the room, between bodies, my voice changed to my own ears, adjusted to adjoining voices and refracting through corners.

 

It’s hard for me to sing since I transitioned, my vocal cords have never quite caught up and they get strained easily. I wouldn’t have been able to sing my song outside of my mind except like this—unrecognizable, each note stretched to its limit and joined to so many others.

 

you are my sunshine

my only sunshine

you make me happy

when skies are grey

you’ll never know, dear

how much I love you

please don’t take

my sunshine away

 

This was the song that came to me, a song my mother sang to me as a baby. As I sang it, I felt a release taking place. It’s not always easy between my mother and I—but over the progression of the song, I could feel the beginnings of love she bore for me, her new-mother pureness of feeling. A few weeks ago, my grandmother passed away. She was so dear to me. She called me her treasure. The last time I was in a building like this was the chapel at her funeral.

 

When I went outside, I felt myself in a whirl of feeling. I sat down alone to write, and then joined the curators and a few others on the grass.

 

It’s so simple.

 

The curators spoke of filling and clearing—the whole week of events generating and sustaining and then this final day: the journey north, the release.

 

Throughout the week, it was said, and especially now, the impact of place on the experience of the work was so apparent. Someone else said that the whole week allowed them to pay attention to what they gravitate towards and what they don’t and to be curious about that.

 

Jaamil asked us if we had moved our heads during Bonnie Kim’s score at Triskalion on Friday night. He described turning his head to experience the sound from different points in space, using his body as a tuning instrument. Most of us hadn’t thought to move in our seats, but Jaamil found movement in sound.

 

Relating this back to the workshop we’d just taken, and the singing score’s powerful simplicity, Layla wondered out loud: How do you get to the place where you can lead that sort of simplicity? Another person noted that the exercise reminded them of the importance of slowing down before you get to the next thing.

 

We talked about our songs and their distortion in relation to the festival’s theme of legible/illegible. Making something that is legible to yourself illegible is a way of expanding your perception—defamiliarization as a step towards new knowledge.

 

Locating one’s own true north.

 

Samita told us that in Chinese medicine, north is associated with water, death, and the sexual center. It is also associated with winter and the color black. I know that major personal losses were experienced during the planning of the festival and over the duration of the festival itself. Healing had always been an instrumental part of the vision, and perhaps became even more so.

 

Final Clearing

 

After the performances, the curators invited us to walk up the trail to a large clearing. Everyone arranged themselves loosely in a circle, perhaps in an echo of the earlier workshop. No direction was given and gradually none was anticipated. Eyes drifted skyward and sideways to the green. Breath slowed. Jaamil passed around the bundle of sage he’d been holding and we dusted ourselves with smoke. Reluctantly, I returned down the path and prepared to leave. The voice of Ione came back to me: Remember, you can experience this feeling again whenever you like. I took comfort in the thought that the reverberations of this day, this week, this work, would continue to course through us.

 

The best dream you ever had, ever…

 

— Jaime Shearn Coan

  • May 21st, 2015
  • Spring Festival

BETWEEN THE NO LONGER AND THE STILL TO COME / MAY 15 / TRISKALION ARTS

 

BETWEEN: Jumatatu Poe, Salt

“finding my infinity by way of rigidity” (from Jumatatu’s NOTE in the program)

Coming in from the courtyard to the theater—sound is first: not a metronome exactly but a measured repetition. Jumatatu is between nudity and dressed, wrapping his hips in cellophane.

Six more spools of cellophane line the front of the stage. Will he wear them all?

The audience quiets but does not grow silent as he repeats his score. I wonder how decisions such as these get made collectively by the audience. What are the cues for beginning?

What different kinds of attention get directed towards the performer? How does the audience feel towards/with/around this young man, his brown skin and long natural hair.

The curators come onto the stage while Jumatatu continues to move, welcoming us, and after they sit down the lights change to blue. We have spent some time (with and between) beginning.

The lulling sounds of saran wrap, footfall, metronome.

Looking off to somewhere beyond the walls.

Guttural sounds emerge from his throat, gradually shifting to cooing, to baby talk.

Left to right, forward and back, stride, turn, hips, hands.

His mouth in slow motion shifting from O to toothy smile.

“I want to do a little (w)rap for you.”

Disordered phrases, cut-up/scramble: “I have been obsessed with——-for a long time.”

Backwards walk with arms bent around head in a pin-up pose, blackout.

 

THE NO LONGER: Paul Matteson, slow slip down

“Where others go on ahead, I stay in one place.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein (from Matteson’s program notes)

NOTE: My response to this piece is shaped by a lack of personal and historical context for the work of Matteson, as well as the work of Jennifer Nugent, who performed—their relationship to each other, to Bill T. Jones, etc. I was filled in by other attendees of the evening. This raises questions of what happens to the recent past, of the challenge for choreographers who have moved beyond the status of “emerging” to maintain both presence and relevance.

So.

What happens when a choreographer leaves New York to teach Dance at an academic institution? Does time freeze? Is the choice to use all faculty and students from the 5-college Consortium in Western Mass a commentary on Matteson’s position—or purely practical?

In a festival concerned with questions of legibility and illegibility, this piece, a seven-person all-female ensemble (largely white, not-tall and thin) felt too legible, felt of the past. The piece was full of modern dance stereotypes, from rehearsal clothes to partner balancing, to very serious gazes for inexplicable reasons. I felt like I was watching a recital, a platform for demonstrating newly acquired skills. The live music, which could have added another level of sensory experience, felt somehow similarly flat and uninspiring.

Who are these performers behind their carefully set faces? What have they been told to imagine? What are we to imagine as we watch them execute their leaps and falls and regard each other blandly? Was their subjectivity unwelcomed or not available for them to access in the first place? Not all dancers make compelling performers after all.

It doesn’t feel good to me to dismiss this piece, not knowing much about its making. In the context of this evening, all of the other works were solos and self-made (sometimes in collaboration). I do know that I’m not the only one who felt somewhat baffled by the presence of this piece in the program.

 

AND (1): Bonnie Jones, We’ve

Bonnie lines up objects at the lip of the stage, members of the audience lean forward, twist to see, some stand briefly. A bowl with something in it? Scraping, rolling sounds.

She returns to the table to make adjustments to many knobs on a mixer. I’m aware of a ringing sound filling the theater which gradually narrows and concentrates into the space between my ears. It’s arrival is shocking—the internal space of my head a new theater that the artist has entered. I wonder if I am becoming entranced. My heartbeat quickens.

Whirl and disorientation, accretion.

Reading from a white sheet of paper: “We walked in a circle for several hours maybe months.”

Soundscape of street: speech and cars approach and fade away. The voices are speaking an Asian language that I cannot place, which I place next to my knowledge from the notes that Bonnie is Korean-American.

She opens a door, turns on a little light, uncovers the mirror, shadows, reflections. Clicks light switches, the house lights illumine us in our seats for a moment.

She is creating a new topography. “We can see ourselves as map legends.”

Stacking and stretching sonic transmissions.

 

AND (2): Alex Escalante / Melanie Maar

“a meeting of two beings from two separate pieces and choreographers” (from Melanie Maar’s program notes)

AKA a mashup of material from Melanie’s Spaces and Bones and Alex’s Venado (Deer Dance)

In addition to having seen Alex’s recent solo at Gina Gibney, on two occasions I’ve heard him speak about the genesis of Venado: first, in a talk-back session after his work-in-progress showing of the piece at BAX a couple of years ago and then again, last fall, as a performer in Xavier le Roy’s Retrospective at PS1. In Retrospective, he talked about his early experience of performing a ritual dance that was connected to indigenous culture in Mexico, and his consequent investigation of his relationship to that material. At BAX, Melanie Maar was in the audience when he alluded to having seen her work Spaces and Bones (performed at The Chocolate Factory in 2010), in which she performed a deer dance. Here is an excerpt from an interview that Melanie gave to Gia Kourlas in Time Out:

Does your deer dance refer to anything?
When I was doing the deer dance at Judson as a preparation for the piece, a Mexican choreographer named Isabel Nares came up to me and asked, “Did you study the Danza de Venado?” I said, “What is that?” and she said, “It’s the deer dance—they do it in the north of Mexico, only men, for religious purposes.” I looked it up on YouTube, and it made me feel so emotional because there are many similarities to my deer dance. I’m glad I didn’t see it before I made it and that only men perform it because a lot of the piece is about playing around with male and femaleness. I think Kenta and I are transforming a lot between male and female energy and that our roles are not so set. So to know that the deer dance is done by men in the north of Mexico gave me a big boost, and it also made me feel like there is something—an access to a movement potential that is not just what I have learned and what I’ve been exposed to.

I never got to see Melanie’s Spaces and Bones, but there is something both reparative and generative for me in the pairing and subsequent transformation of their works I find it to be a beautiful gesture that these two very different artists have chosen to share the stage, and to be open to new signals and significations trafficking between them.

The piece opens to Melanie’s bent figure holding a set of antlers in each hand, her arms extended, her body strong and marble-white in the bright light. Wind sounds. Behind her, a moon-shaped circle is perfectly centered on the wall, her shadow larger-than-life at its center. She looks down or away as she holds herself still, transitioning into a new pose, clacking the antlers together sharply, lifting a heel, flicking her calf.

Alex enters from stage left, looking into the audience and nodding in recognition repeatedly, his arm extended. He is all flow where she is fixed. He has no shadow. He is on all fours, slamming first one fist and then the other in to the floor.

The light becomes more unfocused and Melanie’s shadow less defined, more wavery. Alex’s antlers are his hands growing out of his forehead. They are in stillness, unseeing of each other.

He is on his back, one hand on his stomach, which rises up and down up and down, slowly.

She crouches down, bringing the antlers on top of her head, raises her eyes and steadily travels her gaze across us. The lights cut out.

 

THE STILL TO COME: Dana Michel, valley valley

A tent, a coffeepot, a teapot, a microphone on stage. Elaborate set-up. Props and propping up. Glimpses of the body, snippets of speech, objects out of their context.

Dana rolls onto the stage from the back of the theater—she’s wearing white stockings, a semi-buttoned white shirt, black oversized shoes, a white piece of fabric around her hair, and as she rolls, she leaves a trail of white bread behind her.

Sounds of water, a running bath. She drags herself with difficulty over the coffeepot and on sits precariously top of it, holding a microphone limply, muttering. She looks like she’s the sole survivor of a shipwreck. She looks dead tired, her eyes shift all around the floor and don’t land anywhere.

Fragments of speech seem to drop out of a fully constructed inner world:

“I don’t like it—“

“Disgusting”

“You gotta use gloves”

“Peel it on the train”

“I’m not gonna hurt you”

She rummages around in the tent where we can’t see. Brings out more. White lights, which she turns on one at a time. Red plastic shot cups, which she arranges on the floor. She sets out and then stacks cans of soda, before putting them to bed, drawing them in with a white mitt on her hand, saying: “Come on, shhh.” Cereal is poured, a bag of onions is thankfully left intact. She stands up, leaving her property/refuse scattered across the floor, walks through the door and slams it behind her—more than just a gesture, a reverberation passes through us.

I came across this interview with Marin Sander-Holzman for American Realness where Dana spoke about her 2014 performance Yellow Towel, a work that reckoned with black cultural stereotypes. Addressing ways of communicating with the audience other than through direct eye contact, she asked: “Is there not another way to connect with the people that I’m sharing this work with? Can I not speak to them with my elbow? Can I not look at them with my nipple?”

Throughout the performance I sat on the rim of discomfort and curiosity, aware of something abject being enacted, something private being displayed and inquired into, a collection of codes forming meaning as they came into contact with their environment. The adoption of a persona, or range of personas, requires a level of concentration that creates a force field around it. In that same interview, Dana said: “I wanted to live something. In order to just live it and not show it, I needed to remove the gaze.”

– Jaime Shearn Coan

  • May 19th, 2015
  • Spring Festival

Movement Research at the Judson Church – May 18, 2015

Featuring works by Macklin Kowal, Anna Conner + CO, Yanghee Lee / The Limbo Project,* Juliette Mapp**

 


Stand by Your Plan
Choreography: Macklin Kowal
Performance: Andrew Champlin, Honey Jernquist, Millie Kapp, Macklin Kowal, Mercedes Searer
Music: Mikis Theodorakis, Carlos Mena
Shout Out: Setareh Fatehi Irani, Karin Verbruggen, Lisa Vereertbrugghen

 


Exercises for the unrested: the kingmaker
Director/Choreographer: Anna Conner
Collaborators: Patrick Kilbane and Calie Swedberg
Original Sound Score: Bret Gardin

Exercises for the unrested: the kingmaker, is an excerpt of an ongoing project that has been commissioned and will be performed October 9-11, 2015 as part of Velocity Dance Center’s Made in Seattle New Dance Development Program (Seattle, WA). Learn more at: annaconnerandco.com and velocitydancecenter.org.

 


UNLEARN: (Work in Progress)
A process of learning to unlearn: forms and habitual movements
Conceived by Yanghee Lee
Created and Performed in collaboration with Barney O’Hanlon (SITI Company) and Yanghee Lee (Limbo Project)
Music by Nils Frahm

This work was made possible, in part, through The Movement Research Artist-in-Residence Program, funded, in part, by the Jerome Foundation and the Davis/Dauray Family Fund.

 


The context of no context
Performers: Levi Gonzalez, Kayvon Pourazar, Juliette Mapp

   

* 2014 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence
** 2013 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence

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