Milka Djordjevich speaks with Moriah Evans and Emma Kim Hagdahl, who help organize the production of the Swedish Dance History, a book “creating history right now, right here: across nations, styles and cultural policies.”Read More
just cuzRead More
One-Shot is a web-based, solo performance relay, curated by Sarah Maxfield and produced in collaboration with the Gibney Dance Center.Read More
What would the music be without the dance?Read More
I was invited by Perypezye Urbane, a dance collective based in Milan, to perform at an annual festival they organize called Solo in Azione. There is very little experimental/contemporary dance in Italy, so by organizing this festival they are offering people in Milan an opportunity to be exposed to various dance artists from Italy and from around the world. Here is a nice little preview video: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP_Xhk8Rcy4]
Isabel Lewis and I attended the Choreographic Platform Austria 2009 in Graz a few weeks ago in order to see Austrian work for an exchange we are curating in New York this coming June. We were impressed by the platform, mostly because of the predominantly experimental work that was shown. The contemporary dance scene in Austria is relatively young and a lot of the interesting activity can be credited to Sigrid Gareis's artistic directorship at TanzQuartier Wien. Gareis is sadly leaving the organization in the Spring and will be missed.
Corpus, an Austrian online publication for dance and performance, hosted the "The Zimmer." It was essentially a hotel room at the Hotel Europa in Graz for people to hang out in every night after the performances at the platform. It became a place for discussion, dancing and hanging out. The living room area gravitated towards conversation and the bedroom more towards dancing (with music on a very low volume in order to not disturb the neighbors). The bed added for an extra outlet for creative energy. At some point a second dance area emerged in the hallway/closet area. I was pleased.
See more HERE
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usog27pVOe8&rel=1] The 4th year PARTS students at their best.
Due to my overwhelming schedule prior to my departure for Brussels, I was not able to see anything at Performa07 in New York City. One work I wanted to see was Xavier Le Roy's Le Sacre du Printemps. So I was happy to find out that PARTS had organized a bus to see a performance of the work in Valenciennes, France (about 1 1/2 hours from Brussels) at the Lignes de Corps Festival. I must admit I'm tired of how many versions of Le Sacre du Printemps there are. It's like artists reinventing the wheel. However, Le Roy's approach to the work is very interesting to me. His impetus for the work is solely through the music via the movement a conductor produces by directing the music. So the work is strictly that – Le Roy is alone on stage with his back to the audience and starts to conduct the empty space and after a few moments he turns and begins to "conduct" the audience.
Le Roy admits he is not a musician and that he is merely moving to the music – He makes mistakes. Musicians can see the mistakes, but it doesn't matter because the movement evolves and morphs into a dance, which strongly references conducting. In an after-talk he explains how the work is a combination of copying specific movements from conductors he has observed and the embellishment of conductor-like movements.
I really became aware of the music and less about the "conducting" and ironically, the music was composed for a dance, but then he dances the music through "conducting" and what I finally experience more is the music, rather than the dance. This layering of intention and perception is quite complex and leaves me thinking about how much of what I experience in the world is layered and complex in a similar way.
There is also a specific use of space in relation to the sound. Le Roy works with a sound person who places speakers under the audience in the set up of an orchestra. He points to the audience in various locations depending of what instrument he is cuing. As a result, as spectators we become passive performers. The experience strongly reminded me of my past experiences of being in orchestras and at the same time not.
This idea of copying, replication & appropriation seems to be a reoccurring theme among the work I have seen in Europe and of the work that I'm told some students at PARTS make. In my 4th week at PARTS I will be taking a workshop with Mette Ingvartsen based on this trend. From what she tells me, it is a way of really understanding the trend so that you can produce work not only of the trend, but to also produce work outside of the trend.
On November 23rd I went to Leuven, Belgium (1/2 hour from Brussels) with some classmates from PARTS to see Why We Love Action at a theater called STUK. The work was by Mette Ingvartsen, a former PARTS student, who at a very young age has gained major acclaim as a choreographer. The work opens with an action-filled sequence of stunt moves from the movies. This all takes place on an entirely lime green set, with a backdrop, floor, furniture, blankets and pillows. Dramatic action, crying, mystery, and murder scenes from cinema are demonstrated. These cinematic moments are bare on there own, but gain a more cinematic feel with the use of loud sound affects and vocalizations made by people offstage for the performers onstage. The performers overact, which seems intentional, since replicating scenes from cinema is not the same as acting on stage. Maybe when one tries to imitate cinema in front of a live audience it becomes more apparent how ridiculous and false cinema is.
The construct of cinema is highlighted when elements are taken away or added. For instance, at one point the performers articulate the actions of crying, but cease from vocalizing the crying. It makes me think about the idea of going through the motions or crying, without crying. Stunt actions and dramatic scenes are embellished by repeating events, or by having multiple performers execute action. Things are often done longer than in the cinema or done in unison – maybe this is necessary in order to amplify elements that are so strong on film, but may not translate to a theater.
Like in cinema, the work is very episodic with blackouts between scenes. The piece seems over and then a film sequence is played, much like the ending credits in films. There is video of various clips from the rehearsal process of the work. Ironic mishaps are shown with people asking "are you ok?" during a choreographed stunt scene. Most of the time they are ok, except when one of the dancers actually gets punched in the nose – a choreographic error.
It's strange, as I'm writing this I'm debating whether I should reveal too much about the work. I usually don't have this question with other works, but maybe because of the cinematic references, I may subconsciously feel like I'm writing about a movie – but I'm not at all.
My first week at PARTS I took an afternoon workshop with British choreographer Charles Linehan. It primarily consisted of us participating as dancers in his choreographic methods. We first learned a few short phrases – the movement was simple with many small gestures. From there we had the freedom to cut up the material and improvise with it. We soon constructed our own material with specific guidance from Linehan. He had a strong emphasis on partnering, with or without contact, particularly with one person bending and folding another body and it's parts. One person can direct and the other follows, but at times the passive partner can become more active. He slowly layers, builds, and splices movement fragments to create a rich palette of action. His vocabulary is clear and mostly develops through his direction and guidance, rather than teaching material. It feels literal and abstract at the same time.
Through my artist residency at Movement Research, I have the unique opportunity to be a guest student at PARTS in Brussels for one month. From what I know, I don't think there has been any guest who has taken class longer than 2 weeks. So this is something new not only for me, but for the school as well. I will be taking classes and workshops with the 4th year students and I have the option to rehearse my own work in the PARTS studios. PARTS has a highly competitive audition process. It is clear they seek diversity - there are rarely more than two people from the same country in a class. For instance, there is only one American in the entire school at the moment (this has not always been the case). It creates a really beautiful community, where different cultures meet on a common ground. It may also be a major reason why the school is so unique.
PARTS is a 2 or 4 year program and only accepts students every other year. So at the moment there are only 2nd year students and 4th year students, which totals about 50 people (around thirty 2nd years and twenty 4th years). The first two years make up the 1st cycle and are for students recently out of high school or with minimal professional experience. The 3rd and 4th years make up the 2nd cycle, which is for selected students from the 1st cycle, as well as outside applicants with a college degree or sufficient professional experience. The 2nd cycle dedicates more time to personal work and research, mainly choreographic. Most of the current 4th year students have been at PARTS all 4 years, in fact, only one student has been at the school for the 2nd cycle. From what I've been told, this is not always the case – In the past there have been more outside applicants accepted into the 2nd cycle.
The days mainly consist of an early morning yoga class, 2 technique classes, and an afternoon workshop. My first week, the technique classes are with Salva Sanchis, a former Rosas dancer, and Diane Madden. Then there is a macrobiotic lunch (which I like, some don't, and others say you just get used to it – it's free for the students). The workshops in the afternoons are either led by an artist about their choreographic practice, or a theory course led by various theoreticians (for the next 4 weeks focusing on Gilles Deleuze). The first week I am taking a workshop with British choreographer Charles Linehan.
It soon hits me that I'm in school – again. In a recent conversation in New York, I was discussing how I'm trying to de-educate myself, meaning filtering and distilling what I have learned in order to shape and develop my own interests. I had gone to university and received my MFA by the age of 24. This left little time for me to really focus on my work outside of an academic context. Nearly 2 and 1/2 years later, I will spend a month educating myself again in this intense context at PARTS.
Yes, it is intense and maybe this is more obvious to me coming from a different country and a different lifestyle. The school is small, occupies a lot of time and is in the outskirts of Brussels. I'm staying near the school and there is really nothing else to do. As a result, the students spend most of their time at the school and with each other. I wonder how isolated they must feel. But in someway it is very special. Since there is nothing else to do, one can really focus on their work. Coming from the over stimulated environment of NYC, this was a shock to my system at first, but I'm now growing to love it.
For a clear history and more information on PARTS please visit www.parts.be
I was recommended to see Sister at the Kaaitheater, choreographed by Vincent Dunoyer, particularly because he will teach a workshop that I will take at PARTS. I went to see the performance on Saturday, November 17th - my first day in Brussels. The Kaaitheater is a beautiful art deco building, with a large yet intimate space (maybe a third or half the size larger than Dance Theater Workshop). As you enter the space there is a small projection, in the lower right hand corner of the upstage wall, of photos of a female dancer in various poses. In the first half of the piece, Dunoyer performs a series of phrases, each connecting to the other. Some actions are large, gestural, or simply small actions in the face. At times his breath is very audible and specific to the movement – this reminds me of how the dancers in Rosas often perform.
Eventually Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (ATDK) comes on to perform, what seems like the same solo, wearing a dress with chunky high heels (I think she likes high heels. I've seen some of her works where the dancers wear high heels. Unless it was Dunoyer's choice, which I highly doubt). ATDK's dancing is clear – her presence dynamic and changes with different phrase material. At certain points ATDK seems to forget the material and asks Dunoyer for help (who sits off to the side of the stage watching). He gestures what comes next or gets up and shows ATDK. I wonder how real or staged her forgetting is.
The entire work is interspersed with blackouts, whiteouts, quick bursts of music, and video clips projected upstage. This first video clip of the piece is of a man repeating a phrase over and over on a small stage. He stops the phrase again and again because it seems like he is forgetting it or is trying to perfect it. The clip that ends the piece is of John Jasperse at Eden's Expressway (or maybe it was Cathy Weiss's studio) teaching and performing a phrase. He eventually waves goodbye to the camera and then Dunoyer gets up and waves goodbye to the audience.
I could not read the program because I happened to grab a Flemish program, but after the performance I found a brochure, which describes the piece:
"For Sister [Dunoyer] asked Fumiyo Ikeda to recall and show poses and movements from past Rosas productions, which the photographer Mirjam Devriendt then captured. He then asked about thirty Rosas dancers (and ex-dancers) to take two photos each and link them by means of a new choreographic phrase. In Sister Dunoyer then thread them all together to make a new choreographic piece which he himself dances first, and then Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. This puts her at both the beginning and the end of this 'dance chain.' "
When Dunoyer puts these phrases together they become a new entity, to the point were I could not tell that the material came from various people. He streamlines the movement, making it very smooth and gracefully executed. Not having read the program notes before, I did not know how the work was made. I'm not sure if it mattered. In some way the process seems more interesting than the work itself – It lead to create a cyclical work, where the original source material came from ATDK, then expanded upon by her dancers and then brought back to ATDK to perform. Is it some sort of ode to ATDK? Or something else?
Here is an excerpt of a new work-in-progress that I am developing with movers Margaret Paek & Erika Eichelberger and musicians slow/dynamite - Nick DeCarmine, Errin Delperdang, and Mike Quoma. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oQEI6I48Gc&rel=1&border=0]
It is difficult to articulate complex choreographic ideas in "80 words or less" or in words period. I have the unattainable desire to encapsulate all that I'm thinking in "80 words or less" – I need to if I want my work marketed properly. Or do I? I want to think of blurbs as a unique challenge, as a way to distill my choreographic ideas and as a way to frame my work. (The ideas of "distilling" and "framing" came up a lot during the Form & Practice Workshop I attended this past summer at the Kitchen, led by Dean Moss & Levi Gonzalez.)
I have trouble finding succinct language to describe by work, but more and more I am becoming drawn to language as a way to clarify my ideas.
Maybe part of my desire to have this blog is to use it as a platform to talk about artistic ideas – not only my own, but ideas in general.
Below is the latest blurb I wrote. I took some risks, including posting it here. I'm interested in feedback, really:
The Shape of Things to Come is a pseudo social commentary that explores the space between sanctioned and unsanctioned performance. Different types of physicality are composited in an attempt to generate unorthodox arrangements of action. Time is used elastically, allowing perception of the dance to shift and evolve. Performers exist as people, architecture, objects & vehicles.
It's funny, you never really know what the dance is going to look like from reading a blurb, or do you?