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.

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