Monday, September 28, 2015

Collective Experience

Thank you to those of you who came out to experience Fixtures this weekend and to the City of Santa Monica for this unprecedented opportunity. It has been an intensive period of development and I want to express my gratitude for this time, space, and support.

It is only the morning after these performances so my reflections are fresh and lacking distance but I do want to acknowledge something that we shared this weekend. One guest in a post performance talk observed that in viewing Fixtures she was not only aware of the performers but she was noticing the rest of the audience and those people who were recreationally on site but whose heads turned as Samantha and I traversed the sand; children who responded openly and at times drastically joining in our crawl as well as overheard comments and surprising interactions from passersby. It is uncommon in other contexts for viewing dance that we might be privy to the reactions of our fellow viewers and even less to the reactions of a public whose presence and experience of the performance is often more spontaneous and at times confrontational. This particular reflection resonates with my experience working on site in a perpetual mode of exposing my process to a public and perhaps more importantly this speaks to the implications of public performance and site responsive dance. When the body is presented in unfamiliar or vulnerable ways in public, how do we respond? How do we support each other? What do we notice of ourselves, amongst each other and in our physical environment?

photo by Samara Kaplan

On perception and how the brain makes meaning in the physical world:

Thank you again and goodbye for now.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Entering Performance

In these moments prior to our first distinct showing of Fixtures I wonder what we will learn in the process of performance and how the energy of a viewing public will inform our understanding of this work. I am also feeling the familiar sense of ease that comes with knowing all we can do is enter what we have created and open up to discovery. We have been in practice for an intense and short period of time, which has allowed for a unique kind of focus and now the ritual of performance day begins. 

But how does this ritual manifest, as we enter this vast site not necessarily defined for performance and enter a work, which less asserts itself in a space than, wants to be part of its surroundings? What does this imply for an explicit meeting with a public? I hope to arrive today with sensitivity and concentration for receiving this encounter and I look forward to being with those of you who will join us.

Here is a video depicting the craniosacral rhythm motion in the skull, brain, and spinal cord. Remembering this helps me inside of Fixtures.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dance Process in Public Space

The site continues to evolve and change over the course of each day. Sometimes a lone structure sits fixed, looking out onto an expanse of sand, unmarked skies, and glints of rippling currents. Only familiar fixtures like trash cans, sporting nets and lifeguard towers root into the sand and contribute to an encompassing sense of stillness. Today the sand, absorbed with rain water from last night's storm, is tough and and to walk to shore feels like stepping on rubber.

Sometimes the site is covered with activity inside and out. People cool off at the pool, fountain, or fix themselves beneath an umbrella at the shoreline. Tour guides fondly and expertly impart history; an extensive Marion Davies Guest House archive living within in them. Groups gather for meetings, workshops, game playing, and writers with their notebooks and laptops stake out their ocean side veranda seats. Chairs and tables are carted between rooms and buildings, rearranged and expressing the future. We've seen the skies transform in minutes taking on a spectrum of colors, textures and shapes and our skin is getting to know the sun-warmed concrete and muggy September air.

We are visitors here and to make a work in response to this site is to engage with an enormous amount of information. The site is animated constantly even in its most quiet hour and we are perpetually in conversation with the elements, matter, and the public. On Monday's rehearsal I was laying on a concrete pathway between the pool and the courtyard. I could hear a child's voice behind me ask, 'Is she ok?' and then some conversation. When a father and his two sons passed me he asked if I was alright. I responded to say that I was, and that this was a rehearsal for a performance.

This moment highlights some of what it means to bring dance process to public space and what kind of effect a body on the floor has in a space that is not reserved for performance. The implications of a body, a person, horizontal on the ground in this case was different than a body in the same position inside of a gallery or theater space.

During this part of the work, Samantha and I are attempting to embed our bodies into a transitional pathway between the parking lot, Beach House, pool, and courtyard. We are connecting with some of Jane Bennett's writing in her book, Vibrant Matter - a political ecology of things:

"Perhaps the claim to a vitality intrinsic to matter itself becomes more plausible if one takes a long view of time. If one adopts the perspective of evolutionary rather than biographical time, for example, a mineral efficacy becomes visible. Here is De Landa's account of the mergence of our bones: 'Soft tissue (gels and aerosols, muscle, and nerve) reigned supreme until 5000 million years ago. At that point, some of the conglomerations of fleshy matter-energy that made up life underwent a sudden mineralization, and a new material for constructing living creatures emerged: bone. It is almost as if the mineral world that had served as a substratum for the emergence of biological creatures was reasserting itself.' Mineralization names the creative agency by which bone was produced, and bones then 'made new forms of movement control possible among animals, freeing them from many constraints and literally setting them into motion to conquer every available niche in the air, in water, and on land' In the long and slow time of evolution, then, mineral material appears as the mover and shaker, the active power, and the human beings, with their much-lauded capacity for self-directed action, appear as its product. "

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Week 1: Responding to Site

Samantha and I had our first day on site yesterday. We allowed our bodies to respond to various spaces within and around the Annenberg Community Beach House site which led us through a rich process of discovery and the first stages of creating a new work. We collected research material, began developing choreography, experimented with some movement scores, and were blown away by the sky's immensity and color of last night's clouds. 

Looking forward to another work day at the beach!