Yu Xiao and I have been collaborating on a duet, with the previously working title In Other Words, for about 2 years. When we began the process in 2009, the initial source material came from Xiao Yu’s written and spoken experiences and reflections about the mishaps, confusion, humor, and revelations that come with the new territory of transitioning into an unfamiliar existence. She was the focal point in which the audience perceived experience. We had discussed that my purpose was to embody a version of herself— a shadow or witness, but not a separate and completely whole other individual.
Over time, the piece has evolved into exploring much broader ideas of language, identity, and experience on behalf of both of us individually. These were some of the questions that spurred our investigations in rehearsal.
How do we perceive ourselves through the lens of others?
Through what ideas do we use to construct our identity? Language? Habit? State of mind? Appearance? Behavior? Values?
As dancers do we perform ourselves, pieces of ourselves, amalgamations of past characters, bodily training, cultural histories?
Is the audience just as much of a participant in helping form, conceptualize identity of the performer?
Here is a list of performances where we have shown excerpts and in-progress showings of the piece: