Hold Sway

So grateful to writing contributions made by Michael Morris and Shawn Schulte on Hold Sway.

Here’s a direct link to Michael’s post to check out many other brilliant posts on his blog: http://morrismichaelj.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/hold-sway/

Excerpt:
“the opening of the piece introduced text that suggested—among other things—that there was the possibility that there were already many duets happening, and that this duet would continue even after the performance was over. this duet is simultaneously so strong and so sensitive. both Chun and Lotocki demonstrate such a heightened sense of where their bodies are in space, each joint and surface and ounce, how it shifts on and around its supports, and how it gives way to find support beyond itself, in the body of the other. their bodies yield forcefully—and sometimes not so forcefully—into one another, around one another, bounding and rebounding, springing into and out of one another and the floor as if all these elements were somehow caught in the gentle tug of one another’s gravity. I can’t stop watching their eyes. when they are looking at one another, they are seeing one another. there is nothing presentational about this seeing; it is not as if they are demonstrating to the audience, “we are seeing one another.” they are simply seeing. but what is exhilarating to witness is the way in which their bodies find one another, the ways their surfaces and weight meet, even when they are no longer looking at one another. even after doubtless countless rehearsals, there is a seeking out of one another as they move, a push and a fling and a soft throw out into space knowing [trusting] that they will meet one another in the air. as they make contact—shin to hip, palm to back of neck, waist thrown into arm, leg pushed into chest—I can watch as each one’s weight becomes their weight, however briefly, and together they redistribute that weight back into each body, back out into the space, down into the floor, only to follow that momentum, the remainder of their encounter, into another drop, another push, another fall or fling or spring. together, they are more, and that more carries over into their separateness, only to draw them back again into one another, together.

in the second section part of the piece, entitled “duet #2: too much too little”—with live music provided by Andrew Graham and Sharon Udoh (Counterfeit Madison)—Chun and Lotocki dance behind a screen that is about the height of their shoulder lines. a light from behind projects their dancing shadows onto the screen. tiny little tops of bodies drifting above big shadow-bodies. the distortion of the scale, the slice of the screen that bifurcates their bodies, the blending of the shadows into one another, and those precious moments in which their top halves get away from their bottom halves, and we are left with four halves, seeming to dance independently of one another: in the encounter between dancing bodies and backlight and screen and space and viewer, we all become somehow more. what I am seeing is not simply what they are dancing. the dancing meets the light, and that meeting encounters the screen, and that encounter meets the space, across which it comes into contact with me, my eyes. they said from the beginning that there was the possibility that there were already many duets going on, and in this “duet #2,” I glimpse some of the many ways in which we and our world partner one another, each of us becoming more in and through the encounter. material intra-activities, intersubjective realities, each of us—and I do not only mean the people—become apparatuses through which we are all extended and reinvented, in ways both small and big. these are the manifold duets, and certainly they continue far beyond the performance.”

Shawn Schulte:
“The complex and fluid performances precipitate cascading questions, asking deeply of what are we made, how do we come in contact, and how that transforms our knowing, of ourselves and others.  Woven with an ethereal score and shadow play through screens, movement sections are at once dream-like and raw-intimate portraits.  Other sections deceptively hint at traditional dance, calling up rhythms and mirrored patterns, only to erupt into movements that seem spontaneously born and call into question the ability to script those moments.”

Thanks to Noah Demland (The Quiet North) and Counterfeit Madison for letting me use “from one foot to the other” as the music clip.

See program for additional music/video/text collaborators and past posts on the Hold Sway process w/ Leigh: Binarium and A Duet…HoldSway

READY

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“READY is the familiar, but on the verge of change.  Before moving toward the new and unknown, we choose to take time and acknowledge our past and place in the present. We’ve danced together. We dance together. We are ready.” – Program Note, OWU Spring Concert

I like how the word READY connotes a place in between movement and stillness.  Sometimes when we ready ourselves, we might brace for the worse, but we can also surrender to what will happen too.  When coming in to set a dance in a short period of time (5 rehearsals), it’s hard to provide a cohesive and worthy subtext in which dancers can continue their investigations and discoveries into how they shape their own meanings/narratives inside of the piece.   I find this difficult because I tend not to build dances from pre-determined concepts or stories, although I do try to consciously craft/bring attention to metaphors as they emerge.  In this instance, I was working with a group of upperclassmen, and one professor, who were in various stages of transition in their lives, involving significant events/landmarks such as graduation, relocation, and in general moving from one very familiar environment to something more unknown.  I started to notice the compulsions we have to reflect, retrace, and recall before moving on.  In those moments of reflection, we create a place (space) where the past and future (time) provides a way of locating one’s self in the present more specifically (and poetically too?).

“I locate myself in a relatively open space — a low hill is particularly good, or a wide field. I relax a bit, take a few breaths, gaze around. Then I close my eyes, and let myself begin to feel the whole bulk of my past — the whole mass of events leading up to this very moment. And I call into awareness as well my whole future — all those projects and possibilities that lie waiting to be realized. I imagine this past and this future as two vast balloons of time, separated from each other like the bulbs of an hourglass, yet linked together at the single moment where I stand pondering them. And then, very slowly, I allow both of these immense bulbs of time to begin leaking their substance into this minute moment between them, into the present. Slowly, imperceptibly at first, the present moment begins to grow. Nourished by the leakage from the past and the future, the present moment swells in proportion as those other dimensions shrink. Soon it is very large, and the past and the future have dwindled down to mere knots on the edge of this huge expanse. At this point, I let the past and the future dissolve entirely. And I open my eyes…”

Spell of the Sensuous, by David Abram

Dust and Tulips

Dust and Tulips was a piece created for the GCAC fellowship concert in April 2013.  I think it appears rather somber – especially with our costumes, all black with coattails – but inside of it, feels strangely light and joyful.  A sort of resignation to sadness, but knowing that it can only last for a period of time.  I guess if I’m trying to assign meaning from/to the process, the timing of me leaving the community in Cbus, had something to do with it.  The title, “Dust and Tulips” was based off of images that Leigh and Caitlin helped me identify in terms of the juxtapositions of darkness/lightness(heaviness) and beginnings/endings. The process originally started with Leigh and CoCo, in which we were re-appropriating materials from past duet collaborations into a trio, building off of our “3 duets in a trio” piece that premiered at the Locality Dance Festival in 2012.  Unexpectedly, CoCo had to travel abroad and I invited Caitlin to fly out from Boston to help in the realization of the piece.  With some, but not all already existing material, we set it in a couple weekdays, and performed it that weekend.  Quite the whirlwind, but good practice in making decisions, throwing things away, and finding them again.

Adventures with CoCo

CoCo and I like to jump on trampolines…drink coffee…shoot the shit, well maybe not all three of those at the same time.  We go on a lot of adventures together in and out of the studio.  We’ve made countless sketches of dances and performed them throughout Columbus: theaters around town, some dude’s house, in the club!, and of course at Feverhead.  We have very different qualities in our dancing – someone once likened it to the properties of earth and air.  In one of our many dance geek conversations, we deduced our movement differences stemmed from impulse.  I would tend to initiate kinetic energy from instability (falling into), while she might prefer to generate movement from stability (grounding into).  No matter the diff, we find commonality together too, but don’t feel compelled to arrive in the same way.  So much of our work, research, play together has been based in the duet form.  We duet as teachers, performers, and friends, anything that reminds us that there’s more to our solo world-view.  Forget the academic agenda, it’s just a fucking blast dancing with her.

This is an iteration from a past piece of CoCo’s called Wholehearted Attempt.  Besides remembering the specificity of movement material, I feel like were exploring some fundamental ideas of performance – how do we sustain multiple layers of attention – to ourselves, each other, and other people who may or may not be watching.  I know that sounds elementary, but it brings up a lot of questions for me.  Can a dance exist without people to see it (or however an audience is defined these days)?  How does the presence of those people change the experience/essence of the dance for both performer/witness?  How might you want to prioritize those concerns?  Do I really want people to “Please leave us alone, when we’re dancing”?  Well maybe it depends.

Binarium

Binarium was created as a dance video/documentation of Hold Sway.  Leigh and I worked with the following metaphors to source and organize material for the video and the performance itself, performed in November 2013.

Duet as cosmic collision
Duet as two solos
Duet as harmony
Duet as discord
Duet as history
Duet as double helix
Duet as scale
Duet as self/other
Duet as contraction
Duet as trajectory
Duet as equilibrium
Duet as echo
Duet as residue
Duet as sameness
Duet as difference
Duet as knot
Duet as conversation
Duet as ritual
Duet as connection of two objects across the span of time/space
Duet as mystery

press record and GO

This weekend I’m showing “press record and GO,” a solo danced by Eric Nordstrom on a 4×4 stage.

The premise of the dance blossomed from the question: other than movement what else can I choreograph?
As a starting point, I decided to work with text.  I recorded Eric answering a variety of mundane and complex questions including:

What is your name and hometown?
What is your favorite word?
What caused the civil war?
How can you re-purpose a pencil in 5 different ways?
How do you feel about dating?
Do you have a vivid childhood memory?

From the answers, I choreographed the text into a narrative with consideration to flow, time, and context.  I rearranged phrases and sentences not to create a linear sensibility of his accounts, but based on internal logic/narrative about Eric as a dancer and friend.  The movement score is simply cued up with various phrases, words, and sounds.  In the rehearsal process, I noticed the emergence of content; the solo was now becoming about how I (the choreographer/other) perceived Eric (dancer/self) and how in performance, he was able to exercise choice (in the moment) to more fully create the image/picture/narrative through his own personal movement vocabulary.

As a last minute addition to Eric’s improvisation score, I decided to insert myself in the dance, as a support structure in which he could maneuver on/off the stage.  At first I was tentative about my presence in the dance, but on a chance reading Leslie Satin’s “Being Dance Again,” an analysis of Meredith Monk’s autobiographical solo, Education of the Girlchild (no comparisons of the two pieces are being made here!), I felt reassured in my attempt/intent to communicate transparency of the process in performance.  Satin states,

“I do not mean to imply that the mere presence of other people in a work read as autobiography makes that work subversive.  What I am saying is that the expression of the self as an entwined entity is not only a break from tradition but a political gesture: it situates identity and it representation as active and interactive, as something which emerges from relationships.”

I like that it is a solo, but in our eyes a duet too.  I like that it is a re-representation of Eric.  I like that the dance is an attempt to better know something about Eric and about me too.  My hope is to make more of these “press record and GO” solos, similarly starting from documentation efforts and working backwards.

Video: Lindsay LaPointe

one single thing x two (to the nth degree)

Original music by: Noah Demland

Once again I find myself in a duet process, though the piece, almost felt like an extended duet/trio with CoCo, the choreographer, as the navigator, providing verbal directives and cues during performance.  CoCo worked from the idea of Strands, the title of the curated art exhibition for CAW (Creative Artists of Women), shown at the Columbus Metropolitan Library in the Carnegie Gallery.

Strands of thought

idea

color, conversation

memory, action!

and movement.

Threads

that entwine

sepa-

-rate

rejoin, tangle,

d  i  s  s  o  l  v  e

and overlap overlap.

“The piece showed the connected and loving interaction between two women as they sorted strands, stepped through obstacles, and shared their journeys.”      -Pat Wynn Brown

An additional performance of one single thing x two (to the nth degree) at Independent’s Festival 2011 in downtown Columbus.