Last Friday, Jennifer Morley and I were exploring the possibilities of the front window performance space David Catanch stopped by with his grandson. Out of curiosity. They chatted and hung with us for a while, discovering that David is an improv musician who has previously worked with a dancer or two, but hadn’t played in a while. He promised to come by today. And did. It was a fantastic duet and I’ll post more soon, but here’s just a teaser……
This is why this project exists. Thank you David. He promised to come back and has an open invitation, so we’ll be doing lots more together. stay tuned.
David Catanch jammin in the #opennotebook
I have been in residence now for a few months at 3808 Lancaster Ave, but have been resistant to writing too specifically. This new notebook (generously funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage) is testing the theory of a hybrid research/performance space; process as product. For now, it is still primarily a research space. It is exhilarating and terrifying to expand like this. What I love about this is the unapologetic messy outpouring of ideas. What I am proposing will try to craft it without editing its content. So if I stick to the discipline and integrity of the idea, I am shaping raw content into form/performance; editing without removing. Directing. Your attention. As possible. I am curious.
I am looking forward to tomorrow morning. Details to come.
Reposted from a FB friend “also: how does anyone (ok, I mean artist mothers) have time to make the art and blog about it too?”
My current answer: you don’t. At least I don’t. Right now. The (somewhat more) quiet moments where the ideas are crafted into languages are also the prime moments for simply…… being quiet. While at MacDowell, I imagined an inspired frenzy of writing and posting, but while the writing happened, as did the dancing and planning, I found myself in love once again with simply thinking and moving; with allowing that first thought or gesture to turn over without judgment and unhurriedly find its way to the better version of itself. Working was inspired and fulfilling, but not frenzied. And then echoes from my childhood “….be gentle with yourself”……..
So, this is my quiet window. I have stolen it. I should be sleeping. I should be working. There is something vitally important that is not getting done. It may be one of the busiest times of my year, but the year is so young and this new incarnation of teaching/working/living is still unwieldy. So who knows. In the larger context of this piece, it reminds me of those moments of choice -when do you push and when do you let go? I am catching back up. Not pushing, just a gentle nudge. And with this brief note, I give myself permission for a few more minutes of quiet before the sleeping child beside me propels my day forward (with the assistance by my ever-sprawling to do list) Good Morning All. Be back soon with more “crazy beautiful”
So much has happened within the past week, and to avoid writing for 10 pages and exhausting us both, I will do a brief (ish) overview and then follow up with more specific thoughts and images in later posts.
The major shift has been the addition of the dancers. With one exception, they are all new to me and to this notebook. I was asked how I would work with them to create the affinity I have for these texts, this process and the movement we will create. My solution in the past has been to clarify the nuances and texture of the movement while creating an internal narrative that maps the sensibility. As a mover, you are a product of your culture and experiences. Is it possible to convey that breadth and depth of experience to another individual? While we do follow a basic common physical language, this is modern dance and each dancer comes with an often highly individualized esthetic. My challenge is to find in my dancers, the experiences that perhaps generate a response parallel to my own. As I am writing this, I realize that this is where the first notebook all began.
There is a certain sense of ecstasy that I find in disciplined, sinuous, effortful , purposeful movement that can swirl, fall or release at any moment. It is a state of heightened sensation; of what I call a physical brain, because your intellect become housed in your body and your response is an instinctive tactile response to your environment AND your sensation. 90 trillion cells all sensing and responding definitively to the stimuli from brain and from skin and from muscle. We are sentient beings, yet we spend so much time separating our bodies from our intellect. The first notebook: “In the name of ” looked at the search for ecstatic experience. What takes us beyond ourselves? This notebook “crazy beautiful“ starts out a little further: “When do we learn to edit and how do we choose to do so?”
As to the question about the dancers; In that one, I see the quality that comes from her own sense of herself, but I see also the reflection of her time with me in her shifts of weight and momentum and tension and release and abandon. In the places where she curves because there is a little more Caribbean in her than there used to be. I think it is a good thing. It is a way of carving your life into your skin. Which is where I live.
More to follow, on rehearsals, on the reception and on the epiphany I think I may be having (yup, that’s a loaded word, but there it is).
When Laurel Raczka approached me about housing something in the gallery at the Bride, I am not sure either of us knew exactly what would come of it, other than that it would be potentially intriguing for us both. My notebooks have been housed in studios and black boxes and I have learned not to use the word ‘installation’ because of its weight and its connotations to an already very specified genre. Outside of its usual frame, what is it? It is research, so it is not a performance in a gallery, although you could argue for calling it a performative event over time. But since the intent is not to present but to be observed, and to facilitate active exchange, would performance still apply? In the end, much like the notebook process has allowed me to shed layers of constructed narrative around the making of the dances that I have presented to date, this new space reminds me that more than anything the integrity of intent and process trump the title and the frame in which it is dressed. So this is my performance research collection. No matter where it sits.
The gallery is a funky space, with ins and outs that invite curiosity. My collections are creatures born of my curiosity. My current query: how to leverage the space to create an environment in which i would want to explore these ideas? crazy beautiful: words, writing, speaking, books, papers, beds, asylums, images, imaginings, drifting. I wanted to deconstruct allegorical texts to create new narratives that wove together my writing and excerpts from the books. Within the piece is the idea of swimming through words, wading through thick layers of narratives. Hmmmm….. That was where I started….
The current notebook is different from the first “crazy beautiful” at MANCC in 2009. Many elements have been added and some parts that I thought were essential have simply melted away….. It reminds me that this is the idea: that as the piece develops and the spaces where it is housed shift; as I meet other artists who intrigue and inspire me; it changes, matures and eventually finds its stable form. This will probably take another year to build into performance.