Brussels

PARTS Introduction

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

Brussels Arrival

I arrived on November 17th in the morning to Brussels. My immediate impression is that this city seems small and large at the same time. The train from the airport gets me clear into and across the city in around 15 or 20 minutes. The sun shines like it is morning/evening the whole day (refreshing, yet depressing). The metro/tram/bus system called STIB-MIVB is complicated, but I eventually figure out what line I need to take. The apartment I'm staying is quite convenient (I was happy to see a boulangerie and boucherie right across the street!). However, my neighborhood is strangely quiet; it's not far from the city centre, but seems like a suburb. Technically, where I'm staying is in the outskirts of the city. I arranged to meet up with my friend Marie-Lise on the evening of my arrival. She was a French exchange student at Sarah Lawrence College my first year as a graduate student there. Having little dance experience, she performed in one of my pieces, An Official Picture History. I still show the piece and I have taken over her role. The role was so special to her, that I always think of her when I perform it.

Marie-Lise has become a European diplomat extraordinaire. She interned at NATO and now works for the French in the EU. Due to my ignorance and relative newness to the EU, I'm not sure what she exactly does (she says she'll give me a lesson at some point). To my surprise she now speaks with a heavy British accent, due to her British boyfriend. She is a chameleon. Supposedly when she got back from the States she couldn't speak French. She was in Paris speaking English and Parisians thought she was an American tourist.

We met in the city center and had a great dinner at a place called The Coffee Shop, which is nothing like a coffee shop. Instead, it is a nice café with a hearty menu. I had a typically Belgian tarte (or quiche) with goat cheese & spinach and drank a brun Chimay – yum! We then head over to the Kaaitheater to see a dance performance.