September 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
Weave these threads:
- A-postitional thinking, Fred Moten
- Laban’s vector signs that have no fixed positions
- Erin Manning’s Relationscapes
August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
The following excerpt comes from Christopher Lemann-Haupt’s review of Modris Eksteins’ Rites of Spring: The Great War and the birth of the Modern Age.
In an essay, ”The Culture of Modernism,” included in his book ”Decline of the New” (Horizon), Irving Howe deplored the persistence of the modern sensibility’s ”nihilism,” its ability to live on ”through vulgar reincarnation and parodic mimesis.”
The obvious response had always seemed to be that the forms created by modernism have long since been divorced from their struggle to come into being. Besides, how is it possible to do any art today without acknowledging these forms through some form of imitation? What is most disturbing about ”Rites of Spring” is its implication that simply by acknowledging those forms we are participating in the destructive spirit that created them. It is not a dance of creation we are doing when we celebrate these rites of spring, Mr. Eksteins seems to say. Even if we only follow the beat, we are doing a dance of death.
I need to spend some time writing about this book. Does one line about this book fit into the first paragraph of the Krimmer paper? I hope so, because it might wrap well into the ending image of Chouinard’s Sacre.
I like the image of struggling to come into being. We realize by the end of Chouinard’s piece that that is what we have been witnessing a struggle to come into being and that we each as humans live with this struggle — acknowledged or not — on a daily, moment to moment basis. I am grateful not to have to be faced with this struggle in every moment, grateful that I can go to the theater and see these gorgeous and intellectually engaged dancers demonstrate what might be going on beneath my surface in every living moment. This is not just the moment after life first began, as Chouinard claims she is considering, but every moment since that time as well.
August 21, 2014 § 2 Comments
This morning I read a blog post by dancer and movement analyst Matthew Nelson responding to a video of a young dancer demonstrating extraordinary feats of physicality that somehow look hollow or passionless — not quite accidental, but lacking personal engagement. Nelson asks himself: “So what is this depth I seek? I want to see who people are.” “I’m interested in seeing people through the individual quality of their movement.” So do I.
Nelson is talking about individual uniqueness, choice making, and engagement. “Qualitative depth comes from how we connect our individual experiences in our dancing—spatially, personally, and interpersonally.” He’s talking about the unique choices that each individual makes in response to their unique location in the fabric of a whole. We can only make such choices when we are aware of our environment and our relationship to it.
This definition of human depth connects with Erin Manning’s concept of relationscape describing each person’s uniquely fluid relationship to a fluid matrix of fluid relationships and how that positionality is constantly shifting. The whole is constantly shifting around the individual, while the individual is constantly evolving within the whole.
This is the shift that I see in the final moment of Chouinard’s Sacre. For one final moment the dancers assume human bodies, normal upright walking human bodies. But because we have just witnessed their 40 minute transformation from four-legged creeping to snarling beast to sexy sea anemone and sex-crazed fury, we know more about these people walking toward us than we otherwise might. We have witnessed the extraordinary passion and intensity brought to bear when creative thought is aligned with physicality. These bodies now striding toward us hold potential, they are active, engaged, and powerfully human.
On the other hand, part of me knows that I can never “see” who someone is, nor can I see what choices are being made by another person. I am confused by my own fantasy of what I think I might be seeing. The boy dancing virtuosically in that video certainly is — he exists. His spatial precision suggests that he has a certain mastery of his physical environment and propels his body through that environment with precision. What is missing for me is choice-making around timing, breath and Flow. If there were modulation of timing, breath and Flow I might imagine that I were seeing choices in the process of being made in a way that satisfies the part of me that yearns to see such manifestations of human aliveness. Of course, I would have no idea what is actually going on in the young man’s head, no more than in the video I did see, but such modulations are hallmarks of engagement and awareness that I associate with choices being made even in the course of set choreography.
March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
In the specific context of Greek hero cult, Carla Antonaccio has written, “The term cult identifies a pattern of ritual behavior in connection with specific objects, within a framework of spatial and temporal coordinates. Ritual behavior would include (but not necessarilly be limited to) prayer, sacrifice, votive offerings, competitions, processions and construction of monuments. Some degree of recurrence in place and repetition over time of ritual action is necessary for cult to be enacted, to be practiced”2
To what extent can we view the 20th, and now 21st century, practice of recreating, performing, and witnessing The Rite of Spring, this faux ritual suicide, as a cult? How does our 100-year practice of reenacting this mythical rite (or refusing to reenact it by changing key aspects of the original libretto) satisfy Antonaccio’s criteria for cult worship?
The latin root of the word cult, cultus, means “care” or “adoration.” Lovers adore/care for one another every day in countless gestures. Similarly, worshippers care for the values they hold dearly by practicing devotion to deities or other forces that embody or otherwise represent these values.
Note to self: could easily devote multiple sets of 12 to this topic. Non-stop writing for 12 minutes at a time is a mainstay of my current writing practice. Is it devotional? Let’s ask Antonaccio.
1 Antonaccio, “Contesting the Past: Hero Cult, Tomb Cult, and Epic in Early Greece”, American Journal of Archaeology 98.3 (July 1994: 389-410) p. 398.
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_(religious_practice). I like the brief etymology presented here. Would be good to cross reference with some others.