Dancing to Death, True Stories

November 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

True stories of dancing to death.  We hear in fairy tales of witches being compelled to dance to their death, or lovers who have been untrue (The Willies), but rarely of actual cases of real people dancing to their death.  I wonder how often ecstatic dancing rituals result in death. I wonder how such statistics would compare with statistics of heart attack deaths related to sports activities.




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

Participating in the destructive spirit of creation

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.

I want to see who people are.

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.

Stravinsky on Sacre

August 9, 2013 § Leave a comment



Bejart online

May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment



Preljocaj online

May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment



  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnqdIidnrGo
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgVNKHFoT4Y
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWG3t5qogCI
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxeGvwqFdYE
  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_p4Hqzi4yo 

Final scene:


  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0BayNLyJzI
    Beware: This remix misattributes the choreography in the credits and butchers the work by replacing Stravinsky with an electronic dance track (“ambient/deep house” according to remixer). Watch without sound. What’s nice is that the camera angles allow us to see where the first dancer is looking as she enters the space and pulls down her skivvies.