monadologie day 46

3 March 2008

For those who count, days 43 through 45 were production days at Napier St and some 23 minutes of performing followed by a discussion with Chris Fluke, myself, the dancers and the audience. More on that non-sequentially, I imagine.

A week in Adelaide. mmm. Oh! I didn’t blog even. Seeing friends, many meetings, some shows and festivals and then a 6am flight back to Melbourne for the remaining three weeks of my residency.

What to say thus far? I have no idea quite what I have made. I can’t really assess it within the context of previous pieces I’ve made which exist in the world of dance theatre, performance, installation rather than pure dance. I do have some clear ideas where it can go in the coming weeks, which mainly will be research for me. I also plan to make this research into a solo while I’m back in Adelaide. I have an idea of what it could look like with a group of dancers, though not sure of the number. I had an idea that a chamber orchestra of brass instruments would be a fine accompaniment. I have lots of ideas I later regard with embarrassed disdain.

I’m quite sure having projection or dressing it up with the usual accouterments of dance is exactly what I don’t want to do. Nor either to engage with any of the devices of theatre. The problem with this is that in refusing to engage with common structural elements, it leaves a gaping void which needs to be addressed with some sort of rigor.

I was reading about a lecture Aubrey de Grey gave at the BIL Conference, where he said, (paraphrasing from …My Heart’s in Accra) “Be right (diligence before oratory). He quotes Sean Carroll: “Being a heretic is hard work”. It’s not enough to disagree with mainstream thinking - you actually have to be correct. “Galileo was a heretic, but understood the reigning orthodoxy at the time better than anyone else.” Very few people work that hard: “Many casual heretics can’t be bothered.”" At another talk, KV Fitz said, “intelligence is a function of passion.”

I think between these two thoughts much of what I am trying to do here is contained.

During my holiday in Adelaide, I showed the video of Friday night to Daniel, Bonnie, a couple of others. The more I watched it, the more I felt I couldn’t say anything about it. I’m not sure even if it’s any good. I can say though that making dance, seriously investing time, not in a personal style of moving or individual technique, but engaging wholeheartedly in the cultural history of western dance as performance and spectacle, all the way from Louis XIV and even before, and considering what choreography as movement is relative to the contemporary world as dance was 300 years ago to the courts, or as dance was to the Modern world of much of last century, to be very specific in analysing these systems of a body moving and to try and conceptualise where it could go, to not reiterate what has been done before, all this which is really choreographing and making dance and nothing else, is really fucking hard.

Also, I think it does not easily fit into being assessed within the sphere of what contemporary dance is at the moment in Australia. Certainly what I’ve seen in Melbourne is drifting far from dance these days, whereas Adelaide is quite fixated on, in various guises, the dancer as technician, and neither of these things are what I am interested in here. It is a problem with ideas, that if they don’t have some dialogue with the existing field from which they emerge and upon which they somehow reflect, it is tricky to be able to say much about what they are.

Not arrogantly pretending I just changed the world of dance, but the line of research I’m following doesn’t have much room for many of contemporary dance’s current tropes.

Then there was the discussion on language and structure with a couple of people, and whether pure dance can indeed say anything. My first thought on this was that if it really can’t say anything without being dressed up, perhaps it shouldn’t try to articulate anything in the first place. What does all this training and attention to corporeal aesthetics count towards? I suppose the answer therein in my continued preference for working only with dancers, and, well, very particular types of dancers at that.

All this to say, there is something in here that counts, but perhaps it is beyond my ability to make sense of.

monadologie day 40, 41 & 42

20 February 2008

Oh, so close now and … mmm nervousness and so on.

A peculiar week. I haven’t been too intent on planning for the showing, the idea all along was to continue playing with stuff up till today and then whatever we have, tomorrow we for once stick with. So in a way it is finished but in more ways oh very much not.

Unexpected not-happening. All the Hydrogen shell stuff, based on the absorption lines, didn’t work. I mean didn’t work in one of it’s possible manifestations as a method to shuffle us closer or further from our centre based on the size and shape of various orbital shells. To wonder what I’m talking about and sometimes pictures are good, look at these Hydrogen atom orbitals. So we thought, oh well, save that for me alone for when I return to the centre.

That is to say, will work in a different way, but it was surprising to see the complexity of the piece disturbed and broken by adding just a bit more.

Altogether, it has reached a level of complexity that is pointless to add to as there isn’t time to fold new things into it, though I do have a couple of clear ideas where it will go in the coming weeks after the showing, and need to work this out myself through my favourite rehearsal method, lying down and dozing.

Gideon came in to watch us do a run today. He won’t be here for the showings, and we were, well, ready to be seen, and certainly by the end knew what it’s going to feel like to perform in two days. I need to learn to breathe differently, but it’s far too late for anything else. And remember everything else as well as how to improvise, and the other way too.

I don’t want to get into an analysis of what the work is viz. what I imagined it could be yet, though it now has the feeling I always get around here, a bit of emptiness at what could have been. It has to, at some time collapse from all the myriad possibilities down into the one thing it will be seen as, and watching it on video, I do enjoy, like endless rain in sheets beating the surface of puddles.