Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 16: Spine

#16 Improvisation for spine: flex, extend, side bend, rotate

This would be a nice one to do on a regular basis. Made me feel gooey like a freshly baked cookie. Working with the spine came from a surprisingly muscular place for me. Not bound, but lots of activation in the muscles from head to tail. Maybe there is a way to approach this more skeletally.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 15: rabbit hole

#15 Follow each chosen moment down a "rabbit hole". Don't sequence/combine. Call each "thing" something = name each. File for later.

For anyone who is keeping score, I took a few days off while I was on vacation in Portland, so the chosen items from days 13 (make a phrase) and 14 (simmer) have been on the back burner for awhile. I treated myself to an hour of studio space to jump back in today.

The first rabbit hole I ventured down was 1) the beginning movement on the knees with hands creeping slowly around. I started with the movement as I remembered it from the phrase and let it evolve from there. And it did move through a few different phases. The unifying element turned out to be the hands on the floor, carefully placed or sliding, feeling their way along. Maybe because this was the first moment I worked with and "rabbit hole" suggests a spiral, this "thing" also keeps winding around and around through the different iterations. Since there are several distinct vocabularies here, I gave each part of this thing it's own name:

"creeping circle", "dead shoulder", "twister"

The next rabbit hole started with this: "Viewed from the back: starting with elbows together, pinky fingers together, the hands separate and spread outwards becoming visible on either side of the head." I stayed anchored in one spot and focused on the back of my body. The original movement was symmetrical, and this became a longer study in symmetry. This ground has been well-trod by Jess Curtis in The Symmetry Project, of course. That didn't stop me! The prompt led where it led and this project seems like the perfect time to not despair about whether something has been done before. I could even view this like a scientist validating another scientist's results by reproducing the same experiment.

When I realized I was moving symmetrically - that that was where this particular rabbit hole led - I committed to it. And as I dropped in, I really felt the allure of symmetry. It's both familiar and not. It made me feel my movement initiation habits (I really want to pop one hip up, shift my ribs to the side, lean off balance). But it didn't feel too restricting for most of the 10 or so minutes I played with it. There was something deeply pleasing about moving symmetrically(ish), both in the doing and the watching.


And my goodness, there is one more. All of that simmering boiled over. This rabbit hole began with "A hand in the opposite armpit being awkwardly pulled out against resistance". This one was hard to find. It kept getting stuck. I left it and did the symmetry thing above. I came back to it with something looser. Slapping, pushing, and pulling initiate most of the movement. It's kind of a lot of flailing. The video here is a bunch of very small fragments from that improvisation that I think might have the potential to be interesting.

"slap happy"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 14: simmer

#14 Choose 2-3 events or moments from (13). Let simmer.

The moments that will be simmering:

  1. The beginning moment on the knees with hands creeping slowly around
  2. A hand in the opposite armpit being awkwardly pulled out against resistance
  3. Viewed from the back: starting with elbows together, pinky fingers together, the hands separate and spread outwards becoming visible on either side of the head.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 13: make a phrase

#13 Make a phrase from (12) writing(s)

There is a little talking in this movement phrase. I might hate it, but I left it in.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Another day 12: expanding the lenses, part 2 - spirituality

#12 Choose 2-3 angles/lenses from (10) and expand on each

Yesterday was day 12, but I only got through one angle/lens, so in Groundhog Day fashion, it will be Day 12 over here until I'm done.

Spirituality lens (take 2)
Yesterday, when I was ostensibly writing about this dance phrase through the lens of pop culture, I didn't get to the bottom of what makes me feel kind of squicky about it. The biggest part of the discomfort, I think, comes from the narcissistic element that lurks deep in most performance work, particularly in solo work, and seems prone to amplification through the media of youtube video and blog/social media. The look-at-me factor. The ego factor.

Dear solo performance artists, I don't necessarily think you are narcissistic. It is more that I don't make solo work because I don't know how to approach in a way that isn't just feeding into my own narcissism. Among other reasons. It's not you. It's me.

Approaching creative work as a kind of spiritual practice is, I think, a potential antidote to the narcissism/ego squick factor. It's not how I've approached my performance-making work in the past, though my last large piece was partially about prayer (and also primates). I don't know whether I'll approach my future dance-theater making processes as spiritual practice. Maybe yes, maybe no. For the next piece I'm planning, about 2 couples and the way their relationships follow seasonal and extreme weather patterns, I'm trying out working less experimentally. Start with a structure and fill in the pieces, rather than building a whole bunch of stuff around a concept and trying to figure out where it leads. The more structured approach itself is an experiment in it's own way. Will the work be more focused? Will it be limited? Will it go deeper within the defined boundaries?  None of this necessarily cries out for a process or product more connected to spirituality. At least not beyond the sort of general Buddhist ideal of everything being meditation. Washing the dishes is meditation. Biking to work is meditation. Rehearsing is meditation.

This 100 days thing, on the other hand, falls naturally into the realm of spiritual practice. It is a daily practice with a bit of the "do it just to do it" ethos of Zazen. I hope I am not misrepresenting Zen Buddhism here. Avalokiteshvara knows, I know nothing. I will say that one of the things I like about Zen Buddhism, at least as it is practiced at Zen Center, is that there is a kind of practicality. If you sit for hours looking at a wall every day, don't be surprised if you are sometimes just looking at a wall. There are no promises of mystical experiences. And yet, the practice does have real effects, one of which is maybe getting glimpses into the true nature of things.

There is something similar in this. 100 days of responding to prompts. 100 days of moving and exploring and writing and just doing whatever it is, has the potential (I think, I hope) to clear some channels and to reveal something inside. And maybe that will also affect the world outside in some small positive way.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 12: expanding on the lenses

#12 Choose 2-3 angles/lenses from (10) and expand on each

Pop culture lens (take 2)
I didn't dig too deep into this on day 10. Not sure I'll like what I find.

The format that I've chosen for the documentation of this 100 day practice, namely this here blog right here, intersects with a segment of pop culture that I have conflicted feelings about, which is basically social media and youtube. It's this realm in which anyone can potentially be a STAR, by force of personality or weirdness or falling off of something in a hilarious way or even actual talent. And wow, internet, you have shown me some incredible dancers. You have shown me beautiful things. It's great. It's democratic. It's accessible. You can put yourself out there and be liked and viewed and shared. What performer does not want to be liked and viewed and shared?

So is there a problem? Not inherently. This project/process/practice is... well, I was going to say an experiment, but I'm not exactly sure that's right. I'm not testing any particular hypothesis. It is a practice. I am practicing. Each day I open the booklet and read the prompt and try to respond wholeheartedly. Documentation is part of the process. "Document EVERY prompt however you like." I embrace it. On some days the documentation and the response to the prompt are one and the same, like today. And I've chosen to document publicly for some reason. And this part does feel like an experiment. There is no hypothesis, true, but there are questions. How will it feel? What will happen? Who if anyone will read and watch? Will it have any effect?

This feeling around in the dark seems totally valid as an artistic exploration. Oh! Exploration! That's probably a more fitting word than experiment. And artistic exploration is a kind of a shield against popularity. No one wants to see exploration! Or rather, some people very much do, but most people do not. It's not going to be popular. "Experimental Theater" is never going to be popular theater, by it's very nature, although things that become popular emerge from it. Am I right about this? Just trying it out. So, the artistic exploration shield is also protection against, for lack of a better way to put it, success in the marketplace. But I wasn't trying to be popular! I'm experimenting! Because I am a serious artist!

But seriously, I am exploring and experimenting and not making something. So I am totally not trying to compete with Honey Boo Boo or whoever.

Out of time! I'm going to have to come back for the other lens/es. Maybe late tonight. Maybe tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 11: shedding

Throw out (9) movement of phrase. Do a shedding dance.

It's a good day to shed.

The shedding dance felt necessary today. Necessary and elusive. I started moving. The need to shed got stronger as I moved. The detritus of the past week clung to me in bits and strands and I tried to shake and fling and slap it off. I kept going. There were tears. I may have shucked off a layer of surface muck. It's still settling now.

I did record video. I did manage to move without thinking much about the fact that the camera was there. I did not want to watch the whole video. I did go into the video and mark each minute, then cut most of what was in between.

So here you have a 22 minute shedding dance in about three and a half minutes:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 10: different lenses

#10: Write about (9) from perspectives of design, theater, pop-culture, politics, etc - at least 6 different lenses

I see lines and arcs traced by extremities on the ground and through the air. It's a three dimensional drawing. At ground level, straight lines and right angles scraped into the surface by flat feet. A series of unfinished rectangles. What do you call a rectangle with 3 sides and an opening? Above, fingertips at the end of swinging and slicing arms describe arcs in different planes. A line tossed in interrupts the arcs, but they return. An arc of the fingers of  the right hand closes into an oblong. Round and round it goes, and the foot creates an orbit of it's own. Traces in spaces.

I immediately read "theater" as meaning "narrative". Where did that come from? Next comes to mind theatricality, drama, heightened emotion or style. None of of these are much in evidence here. I look to the focus to tell me something. What do the eyes give away? There is a sideways glance at the start. There seems to be a false start. Sideways glance. Try again. Then comes the shoegazing, or rather footgazing. Eyes are not telling me much until the very last moment when I see something proud or watchful for a split second. So then I wonder, does the body have a story to tell here? The long journey across 6 feet and back again?

Pop Culture
This is not going to go viral. I am not going to become a YouTube sensation. The format is essentially the same. A person dancing in front of a cell phone. What's the difference? Well, this is not impressive. It is not a showcase of my sick skills (is it?) This is not funny. This is not even primarily intended for an audience, despite being public. This is documentation of a task. This is an investigation. This is a process. This is unpopular culture.

There is so much more that could be said here. Popularity, success, legitimacy as an artist are all springing to mind. But I am going to leave it here today.

I don't know how to talk about politics. The personal is political will have to do here. Is there a politics of a woman dancing in her bedroom? This bedroom is in a studio apartment in San Francisco, which I can afford to do because of a part time gig in tech. This has come to seem like an almost unspeakable luxury. Not only a room of one's own but an entire apartment. In San Francisco! Wow. Fucking jackpot. Yes. And also, dancing requires or at least desires more space than writing. This bedroom dance feels a little cramped. There are hints that some of the movement wants to go wild, but a visual field full of walls and bookshelves and bedroom furniture keep it a little contained. I see that it doesn't have to be that way. Maybe it is also the domestic nature of the space demanding a certain modesty of phrase. Over there I cook dinner, right over there I sleep, and on this patch of floor I will make a little dance phrase. I see this little dance phrase and in it I see the lost spaces for dance in this city. All is not lost. There are spaces for dance. It all feels a little tenuous lately. I also see in this little dance phrase a scrappy determination to make things out of the materials at hand. Make it work, to quote Tim Gunn. This is not a bad thing, right? But I also see my own scarcity mentality. Things are getting a little cramped even in my head. All this making do, making it work, making something out of nothing, it requires creativity and limitations can make work better. Lord knows I love me some low tech theater magic. But I'm just realizing I feel a little hemmed in and that has something to do with a perceived lack of resources or support.

E recently told me about setting a piece on some college students. One day, one of the dancers pulled him aside with some complaints about the process. One of the complaints was, your work is not original. It's derivative.

One of the things I am enjoying in this 100 day process, is feeling freed, at least temporarily, from concerns about originality. That inner complaint: this is not original still frequently pops up. But my task here, as far as I'm concerned, doesn't have anything to do with originality. Yes, one of my not-so-secret hopes is/was that this process might lead me to something new. I keep bringing myself back around to: Feel free. Try not to make anything. No gaining idea.

Which is all to say, I don't see anything original in this little phrase. As I was making it, I remember feeling something Trisha Brown-like in the contacts with points in space and in the attempts at loose limbed clear lines. The passe moment with the twist and arm slice ended up way more like something from Katie Faulkner's dance class than what I had been aiming for. And then there are all of the influences that have worked their way so deeply into my body that I don't even recognize them as not my own. This way of moving is now "natural". This is me. Not an amalgamation of Joe Goode and Kathleen Hermesdorf and Ellie Klopp and Debbie Taylor and all of the other teachers and their lineages. This is now me. The turned in, hiked hip lift of the leg has been part of my vocabulary for so long that even my non-dancer neuroscientist ex-husband called it out some 10 years ago. Where did that come from?

This one applies for me not so much to this phrase, which I see as more of a formal and anatomical exploration, as to the whole process. I wrote the other day about ballet class starting to feel like something akin to a spiritual practice. And now I am thinking about how my creative process can and does overlap or mesh with my spiritual practice. I surprise myself a little, admitting to having a spiritual practice. For some years I've been jokingly calling myself a wannabe Buddhist or a drive by Buddhist or a bad Buddhist. Bad Buddhist is a particularly fun, but probably not that useful construction. Not-entirely-committed Buddhist might be more accurate. I can't honestly imagine really committing in this lifetime of mine to saving all beings, thought I've chanted it a bunch of times.

This process seems to invite the possibility of approaching creative process as a practice as a meditation practice. You keep just keep doing it, keep coming back to it. You lose focus, and come back to it. You let go of attachments. You get attached.  You let go. You get attached. You let go. You practice being aware, awake, available, open, compassionate. You try not to give into the feeling of constantly falling short.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 9: "best of"

#9 Select "the best of" 5-8 and organize into a phrase

I inwardly groaned a bit when I read this prompt. Then I proceeded to put it off. I washed clothes, bought groceries, read short stories, watched a videos of tango dancing and a dog on a trampoline. Doesn't Christy hate making phrases? Or at least have mixed feelings about making phrases? (Despite the fact that to all outward appearances, she could crank out interesting movement phrases all day long.) Today I also had mixed feelings about and resistance to making a phrase.

I finally settled into it. I had done a lot of the work of sifting through the material on the earlier days, when I plucked out interesting bits of the videos to include here and here and here. I looked back through them and was most interested in the kind of stiff and linear "frame" movement from day 7, and some of the more flingy key and parasol movement from day 5. I started learning and adapting the movement from the video and putting things together. I remembered I sometimes like making phrases, particularly when the stakes are low.

So, here is the first official phrase of my 100 days in all of it's 1-minute glory. While I was putting it together, it felt kind of Trisha Brown-ish, but watching the video, it doesn't look that way at all. I also noticed that a couple of movements, when codified, lost some of the quality that interested me in the improvisations. The space constraints of my studio apartment also influenced the phrase. Not in a bad way, but this would have been a nice day on which to have access to a larger space. But we must make do.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 8: no gaining idea

#5-8 Move the residue or echo of (4) in three different environments

I did a little math and it doesn't quite add up. Three different locations. Four days. Hmm. I could repeat a location. I could do any number of things. What I'm going to do is take today as a freebie, and just do a little reflection.

It's Saturday. On my calendar, every Saturday rather optimistically says, "9:25am zazen", which is shorthand for meditation and a dharma talk at San Francisco Zen Center. For most of this year, I was actually getting there about 3 out of 4 Saturdays, but for the past two months, I've been skipping it in favor of taking ballet. This choice might not seem to be doing me any favors in the obsessive thought department, but this ballet class is not unlike a spiritual practice. At the very least, for 2 hours I do not think about anything other than my pelvic floor and the connection of my little toe to my butt dent and how to not give up at the end of a pirouette and other things of that nature.

But today, with one week of my hundred days behind me, I find myself thinking about thinking about Buddhist stuff, like Suzuki Roshi's admonishment to have no gaining idea. (Shunryo Suzuki is the founder of SF Zen Center. He died well before I started sporadically showing up, but his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is often the basis for talks.) He talked about practicing zazen with no gaining idea. Practicing without the idea of achieving enlightenment. Without even the idea of becoming a better person. You practice just to practice.

I just googled to confirm that I'm not completely misremembering this concept, and goddamn, sometimes I love the internet. In Suzuki Roshi's own words:
When you are idealistic, you have some gaining idea within yourself; by the time you attain your ideal or goal, your gaining idea will create another ideal. So as long as your practice is based on a gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time actually to attain your ideal. Moreover, you will be sacrificing the meat of your practice. Because your attainment is always ahead, you will always be sacrificing yourself now for some ideal in the future. You end up with nothing. 
(The rest of the talk is here.)  

Looking back at the beginning of my 100 days booklet, I see again:
"document every prompt however you like"
“Try not to MAKE anything.”

I wonder what gaining ideas I have about this hundred day practice, and are these ideas blocking something? So far, it is different from the usual process of going into the studio to make a piece. That seems right. I am less concerned about whether what I am doing or making is good. Sweet freedom! But I suspect I am making things. And making these things - dancing and moving and editing video and writing - feeds seamlessly into my irrepressible need to feel productive. These things, and perhaps some others, make this process seem less pure and pristine than my idea of it. And okay, having an idea that anything about this process, or any creative process, should be pristine is a little ridiculous. But putting that aside, and putting aside the worry that I could get more out of this if I did it BETTER, I still think it's worth looking at the hidden ideas and expectations that I've encumbered myself with...
I will discover something new.
I will break through my movement habits and patterns.
I will become a better writer through the sheer volume of writing I'm doing to document this process.
This will be interesting to other people. (This one is the worst.)
I will come up with brilliant ideas for new things to make.

In the spirit of day 1, I am going to try to shed these ideas as I go on through the days.

Practice is just practice is just practice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 7: residue part 3 (corner)

#5-8 Move the residue or echo of (4) in three different environments

Nobody puts baby in a corner.

But perhaps baby should reconsider.

After yesterday's adventure in the studio, I am back at home for the 3rd day and 3rd environment of/for moving the residue or echo of my items. I squished myself into the corner where I had been keeping the items. It was certainly the most time I've spent in this particular little corner of my apartment. I found it to be a cozy spot. Foldout ironing board on one side, window on the other, kitchen table a few feet away. Calm. Comforting.

Also, I played with Final Cut effects. Perhaps if I slap enough sketches together, I will really learn my way around this program.

Day 6: Residue part 2 (studio)

#5-8 Move the residue or echo of (4) in three different environments

I think I thought that the studio would feel uninspiring or sterile after being up on the roof yesterday. I think I thought that. But it turns out that an empty space that was all mine for 90 minutes felt pretty good. The sprung floor didn't hurt either.

Funny story: After warming up a bit, I turned on the camera and improvised for about 15 minutes. Then I took a peek at the camera to see if it was still running. It was. Great! I kept going. 5 minutes later when I felt done with that round, I went to turn off the camera, and... ERROR! The whole video was lost.

Which really doesn't matter at all.

I've been documenting with video for some reason I'm not totally sure about yet, but it's not important. I laid on the floor for awhile deciding whether I was done for the day. I decided I was not. I decided to repeat the task in basically the same way without trying to reproduce anything that had happened the first time. I experimented a bit with this kind of repetition when I was doing the Sandbox Series at ODC. (Sandbox Series is a program that gives choreographers free studio space, paid dancers, and a chunk of money to just experiment with no obligation to make anything. It was great). During Sandbox, I had a day that was all about repetition. I had the dancers do a phrase building task with the exact same parameters 4 times in a row. I tried something along the same lines for my 2nd round of improvisation here.

Both times, I basically went through the items one by one (keys, tiny picture frame, parasol, seed pod necklace, bark) and danced something about that item. I moved about a set of keys? Danced inspired by a parasol? Attempted to capture some essence of a necklace through the power of my dance? I don't know. It seems sort of silly. I am reminded of a woman I met in my college years. She had some long ago dance training and was working as a stripper at the time. I had just discovered modern dance! She made fun of that "I'm-a-tree modern dance thing". I explained it's not about that, but sometimes we count to 7 instead of 8.

So, I'm not a tree, but I am a piece of bark, and a set of keys, &etc. That's right. I just decided not to feel silly about it. And it felt good, I must say, to play. To be easy with myself and think about the qualities of these items, both physical and in the residual memories attached to each, as I danced:

The keys were led me into the spirals of the metal keychain and distant memories of the man who gave it to me.

The tiny frame was all about corners and lines and right angles.

The parasol was about the shape, and a kind of gentle popping expansion, and maybe an element of protection.

The necklace pulled between the lightness and bounce of the pods to the limp tangle of the cord.

The bark... I skipped the second time around. I lost steam, I guess, or maybe I couldn't find my way into it. The first time I remember thinking about the textures, really rough on one side and smooth on the other, and I tried to feel that in my body.

And then there was a little silliness at the end:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 5: Residue part 1 (roof)

#5-8 Move the residue or echo of (4) in three different environments

Today it rained. It rained! Somehow this seems significant, though when I went up to the roof to do today's prompt, it wasn't raining yet. I raced home from work to beat the dark and the sky was textured with clouds. A roof in the Mission was not a bad place to be at that moment. I brought a couple of the items up (the parasol and the keys).

Dancing on the roof became as much or about the roof and the view of the city all around as about anything else I might have intended. There is a lot to see up there. And hear. Wind, crows, the sound of the street, strange banging noises that I couldn't determine the source of. I peered over the edge and my neighbor was sitting below on his fire escape, and I wondered if he heard me jangling my keys up on the roof where I was not supposed to be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 3: Collect 5 items

I ended up gathering items that did not come to me by way of purchase. I'm guessing they will come back into play on another day soon.

item #1
Keys. The keychain was given to me 10 years ago, and is now both an utterly ordinary everyday object and a kind of talisman. Also, I spend approximately 4% of my life searching for these.

item #2
Bark. Maybe from a madrone? I picked it up on one of many hikes I took during a Djerassi residency. The bark had peeled off in these big strips and curls and was all gorgeous and wet on the floor of the woods. Taking it was probably some kind of attempt to bring some of the magic of that place home with me.

item #3
Necklace. R bought it for me at a supermarket in Kauai when we were there celebrating my birthday. At her request/insistence, I wore it constantly while we were there, except when I is was in the water or sleeping. It's made out of some kind of seed pods and weights almost nothing.

item #4
Frame. This picture frame is 2 and a half inches high. It was part of a diorama in a Mugwumpin show. We took the show to Europe and assembled the diorama there. It was full of sundry items - an eiffel tower, a ceramic lion, small furniture and picture frames. After the shows were over, we dismantled the diorama. I pocketed some of the items, including this frame, and carried them with me for the next 3 weeks as I travelled around France, England and Germany.

item #5
Parasol. A recent acquisition. I apparently accidentally nicked this from a lovely wedding where I was a +1.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 2: Writing: your wildest desire

I opened the booklet. I slid the paper down to reveal "(2) Writing: your wildest desire". Oh dear. Not ready for this. Certainly not ready to expound on whatever my wildest desire is publicly. Blog the whole process! Great idea, Erin!

I pulled out some paper and a pen. I wrote "My wildest desire" at the top. And then I started writing and tried not to resist the prompt. But I did resist it. I do. Wildest. It's the superlative that made this so hard. I do experience desire as wild. Desire is untamed and difficult to control and defies rationality. As I sit here just thinking about desire, I can feel something in my chest tugging forward towards I don't even know what. The desire that is not wild is something else. It's aspiration or hope instead. Desire pushes me in random directions, and most often, it seems, away from my best self. But the wildest?

Here's where I started with the writing (as opposed to this, the writing about the writing).
When I started hanging around with J, he told me he was trying to rid himself of fear and desire. Some kind of Buddhist notion. Fear I understood wanting to be rid of. But desire? No way. I was waist deep in desire. Nipple deep. I was in it over my head over TB. The Boy. It was exhilarating and excruciating. And the thing is in the end, the several-years-later end, I'm not sure it meant anything at all beyond some raw animal surges of feeling.
Still not writing about my actual wildest desire here, notice. Further in, I try to work my way through real present desires to find my way to the WILDEST. I do not arrive there.

A desire (not the wildest, I admit) that I can name here: to fling my body into and over things, to hurl myself through space, to move in all directions and never get hurt.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 1: Shedding

Dance/move/make a 10 minute shedding dance

I start by sweeping the floor and clearing out the space in my studio apartment. Attempting some transformation of my every day living space into something else. Maybe this is misguided, but clearing the space seems like a necessary preamble to the shedding dance. I swept yesterday, but still the broom catches so much hair and dust and bits of things. All of this accumulated since yesterday, or I missed it yesterday. Either way, there seems to be a metaphor lurking in all this dust and debris. The bottoms of my feet feel gritty. I wash them and this also feels right, like shedding.

I'm not sure if this preparation for the dance or the dance. I'm inclined to think of this activity - sweeping, tidying, washing, as the dance. But there is a time specified in this task. A 10 minute shedding dance. In the spirit of documenting, I spend some time fiddling with a tripod and my cell phone, and finally settle on propping it up between a water glass and an apple on the kitchen table. I start the video and set the oven timer for 10 minutes and start into the dance proper.

Right away I hate having the camera on. It doesn't feel right for this. It brings up too much that is too hard to shed. All the ideas about what something looks like, how it will be perceived, what it means. I say to myself out loud that I am not going to pay attention to the camera. And then I start not paying attention to it. This is clearly going to be a struggle with the this project/process.

Shedding feels like cleansing at first. Almost like a ritual cleansing. I think that this is connected to the bucket showers I've been taking lately. A friend introduced me to the concept. She was recently in Haiti and that's how she bathed there, and then she kept doing it when she came home. "I love bathing now", she said. And I think it was her attitude that made me love it too.

I stroked my limbs, my neck, my face. As the attention of my critical mind passed over what I was doing, I thought, maybe this is cheesy. But it felt kind of right. I did some shaking. Some wandering around. I swept my body across the floor. Sometimes searching for something. Is this the right thing? Is this the answer? Usually doing that really. It was hard to settle. That damn video camera. I kept finding myself wanting to perform aesthetically pleasing dance, and then fighting that because it didn't feel right.

Of course I took off my clothes. I mean, shedding, come on. That felt good. The camera spontaneously turned off at 5:38, so the naked dancing was truly just for me.

Before I begin

Christy came over last night. I made mac n' cheese. We drank wine and talked about art and non-art related things. And she dropped off the booklet. Inside are my 100 prompts and a slip of paper to be used obscure the coming prompts. It's one day at a time. No looking ahead. No expected end result.

I considered delaying. I do have more free time at the moment than I have for the past 8 months, but I'm still concerned about finding or making the time every day. And my neck is pretty out of whack. Wouldn't this be better if my dancing was uncompromised? And what about when I'm at my zen retreat? And and and...

But ok, when establishing a daily practice, it seems like there is really no time like the present.


The inside cover of the booklet says:
  • prompts can be done in any media
  • try not to look ahead
  • other people can be brought in at any time
  • document every prompt however you like
  • try not to MAKE anything