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.

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