Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 30: combining senses / outside

#30 Combine (25-29) to improvise outside in as urban a locale as is safe to do.

Heaven is other people.

I am so very grateful that this prompt coincided with a day when I was getting together with other dancers to improvise. The idea of going outside with what I've been doing was and is scary. Or at least awkward. Having other dancers along for this part of the ride with me made it safer. There is a kind of legitimacy to a group doing a weird activity that I don't feel comfortable claiming on my own. Maybe that is why I am not a solo artist.

And even with six of us out there, it was still a little awkward in practice, honestly. A man stopped on the corner and asked if this was some kind of flower child thing. And then, "is this yoga?" to which I awkwardly answered "mmhmm" and kept on with my moment, pressing my butt against R's butt in the alley outside Dance Mission. This was about as safe an urban locale as there can be. Right outside a theater. Hundreds of people must have performed in or above or around this alley over the years. The woman who drove through, parked, and then walked back out the way she drove in, was totally unfazed, bless her heart.

And we weren't out there to blow people's minds or even to communicate with people. We were out there improvising with our senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing, sight. We were just out there for 10 minutes. It felt silly and complicated. It was overwhelming to the senses. I'm in love with the visual texture of the city, and this little alley was a fine example. The sky was blue with clouds above. Flock of pigeons flew overhead.  There were the sounds of cars, people talking and shouting, wind chimes, someone singing. It smelled a bit like just outside the bathroom of a taqueria. There was the feel of painted bricks and dry plants and asphalt and cement underfoot and each other. I have to admit the idea of taste fell by the wayside for me. Layered on top of the sensory overload was people, the city and its history, the gentrification that artists are a part of, echoes of yesterday's and recent week's protests. It was really too much.

I felt grateful for the dancers who were with me. I felt too vulnerable and self-conscious to be really connected to the environment. If I were making something for that environment, it wouldn't be an exploration of the senses. On the other hand, awakened and active senses seem like a good starting point for anything. Turns out it's hard to stay with the senses when self-consciousness is peeling my mind away from the present moment.

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