Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Okay. So here it is:
I've been developing ideas about this new way to be making work, and while i'm no where near finalized on any of this, i've gotten to the point of being able to be somewhat coherent about it. For the sake of simplicity, let's call this the "pomogenerate" system. Po-mo = post modern, generate = to make,"pomogenerate" sounds like "pomegranate" = a juicy fruit that you eat by pulling apart all the little compartments and layers.

To throw some vocab at you (from the introduction to my thesis):

"Subtext as we know it in a literary sense is defined as:

“The implicit meaning or theme of a literary text”

with ‘implicit’ being defined as “contained in the nature of something though not readily apparent” and theme being defined as “a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.” Subtext is why life is interesting. Subtext is the meat of everything that happens, no matter how visible it is, and subtext is what initially drew me in to a love of literature in high school. One of the beautiful things about literature, which I grew up with, fell in love with, and am now attempting to reinvent for dance, is that the reader can really dig into the hidden world of the piece to their heart’s content. Just as themes can underlie a line of text, meanings and subtleties likewise haunt the works of theatre, visual art, and dance. If we use the dance term ‘viscera’ to talk about the movement within a dance piece – specifically the body’s anatomical relation to itself, as well as its relation to space and time during the event of performance, then we can define what I’ve begun to call “subviscera” as

“The implicit meanings and themes inherent in the viscera of a dance performance.”

This subviscera, or “subvisc” for short, is inherent in every piece of postmodern dance, regardless of the choreographer’s intensions or desires, and can be subdivided into the two categories of Inherent Subvisc and Accumulated Subvisc. The Inherent subvisc can be divided into three sections that deal with the accumulation of meaning in the performance of the dance:
1. Meanings the choreographer brings to the viscera during its creation via his or her own understanding of its significance, history, and/or intension
2. Meanings the dancers bring to the viscera in performance, via the accumulation of both their own and the choreographer’s understanding of the intension, story line, or significance behind specific viscera.
3. Meanings that the audience brings to the viscera via their own perception and relation to the viscera during the event of performance
The Accumulated Subvisc can also be divided into three sections, and deals with the dance piece’s post-performance life:
1. The reactions and interpretations of the audience after the piece (which includes both the viscera and the subviscera, as well as set, music, costumes, etc.) is performed
2. The reactions and interpretations of persons deemed “critics” after the piece is performed
3. The accumulation of a judgment (or rather, a multiplicity of judgments) that gather around the piece via the reactions and interpretations of the audience and critics."
So. We begin:

This is a new way of making work. It hinges on the idea that performance, or even the dance itself, isn't the important part of a dance. Not the dancing, not the costumes, not the way it's performed - at some level none of that matters to me any more. For right now, what matters is:
-the process of making
-the ideas that are behind the making, movement, final product
While clearly you can't have these things without a final piece (and so the piece and the performance and all of that really IS important) i want to restructure the way we think for a second.

I'm thinking that with this new hypermedia (my thesis project), performance becomes functional only in the excitement and rush of live-ness, and the savoryness of getting to be (as a viewer who has already investigated the piece) a few steps ahead of the dancers in anticipation. So ideally, a viewer would see the piece, play with the hypermedia, see the piece, play with the hypermedia, see the piece etc until they're a "scholar" on the particular work. BUT this means that the piece itself (as performed) when first performed probably doesn't make full sense. Maybe it's not even interesting for the audience. Maybe it's frustrating. So how can a performance be uninteresting for one veiwer and thrilling for the other? This i am interested in (and excited by). Because, i think, this gives us freedom as choreographers to:
1.) make more complex pieces
2.) make pieces free of having to be "interesting" or "engaging" on the first go round, and
3.) creates a way to work that simultaneously fundraises and frees us from the bind of having to make "good" sellable pieces at the same time

What i'm saying is that this is important to me. It seems like a way of making the system work for us. And it seems like a way of sparking an evolution of work. Into what i'm not quite sure, but that's what i'm working on for now.


Saturday, December 8, 2007


Theo was right about dark music on the slide back.
I was right about keeping the music as a whole.
Alanna was right about costumes.
Jules was right about Rowan's shirtedness.
Cavin was right when she said that the migration phrase was a transition.
Sara and Dan were right when they said the old beginning was unclear.
Theo was right when he said not to compromise.
Ashley was right when she said that whatever i did, i would learn from it.
Ilona was right when she said that the beekeeper solo had returned to where it came from.
Rowan may have been right when he said the slowness of last night helped the end pop.
I was right about the dancers needing to fight at the end, and show that they were tired.
Josh was right that the bridge lighting may be too distracting.
Darla was right that there was too much going on to see anyone but Rowan and Larissa
Gabe was right on about the patchwork quilt idea.
Michael was right about Ilona's suspenders.
The timing was right, even though it was different.
Alanna was right in being preemptively proud.
Lillie was right when she saw how it all connected.
Rowan was right in liking the letter duet better than the other parts.
Larissa was right in asking how and why she became the protagonist.
Trevor was right when he asked who Michael's role was.
I was right when i told him the answer.
Dan was right when he said that the letter duet was the piece
Nicole Krauss was right when she wrote page 91.
Joyce may have been right about all of it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

This i am thankful for:

- dancers and collaborators who work endlessly to fulfill something that started out as foreign but has (i hope) become something of theirs as well.
- teachers and mentors who give me straight up critiques, as much as i may not want to hear them at the moment.
- friends who tell me not to let critiques get in the way of doing something ambitious
- good natured late night drunken angry yell-about-art sessions on the couch
- people and forces who propel me towards creation, invention, revision, rebellion
- the way my dancers tear across the space
- lovers and friends for lending me their characters to show to the world.
- the seconds when the music and lights, lights and dancers, dancers and music collide and explode into something i had never seen before.
- the creative process as therapy.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

This i have realized...

everything is going to be alright.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meditations on the Unknown

It's impossible to know your own work while you're making it.
Even after it's done, even after it's been presented, even after you've stopped working on it in any way, you can't see it.

I just looked back at a piece i did at the beginning of last year, and felt like this was one of the first times that i was truly able to see it. After a year.

So here i am beginning to wrap up a piece that not only am i not done with (we still have miles of cleaning and re-working to go before we sleep) but that i plan to resurrect in the future and make into an evening length piece. So there's no way in hell that i'm ever going to be even close to seeing this piece for what it is anytime in the near future.

I know it's something. I know work has gone into it. But honestly, that is ALL. I. KNOW.
It could be a masterpiece or it could be shit. AND, it's probably somewhere in between.
But. That .00000009% possibility that it could be a masterpiece is what's tormenting me out of my mind right now.

I don't care if it's shit - that i can deal with more easily. I can defend my choices and i stand by my and my dancer's work, so if it's shit, who cares. But. The possibility of this golden calf we call "masterpiece" is so fucking enticing, and the sinking feeling that whatever i've just made is just 2% away from being close enough for anyone to identify it as such, is why i probably won't sleep well until a few nights after the piece is performed and all the feedback is in.

And even then i won't be able to see what i've made. I just won't care because i'll be working on the next one.

The Other Essential Problem

The other essential problem, and I do not say this jokingly, is stymied sexuality.

There is only one thing that, as artists, motivates us to do our work. And that is: we are not getting laid, and we are sexually frustrated and heaven be damned if we aren't going to take it out on SOMETHING.

Any art that doesn't emerge from sexual frustration is for the birds.

We all just want our cock sucked, and to like it, instead of hating it like always.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Essential Problem

i am told, and we have all been told, by the various mystics and sons of mystics that at the very root of reality there is no seperation between any one thing and any other thing. In other words, the universe is non-dual and made of one continuous fabric like that one scene from the fucking huckabees movie.

now that means that there is, at the moment, no seperation between me and the music I'm supposed to have completed for Sarah Rosner's dance piece.

but I still have to write the damn thing, othewise it WON'T BE THERE.

that is the essential problem of art.

Friday, November 23, 2007

and so the first image is: a dancer getting smacked in the face with a raw fish! (read more to understand)

so here's my problem:
i've never made a non-serious piece.
i get ideas for funny pieces, light pieces, SIMPLE pieces, but somehow they all get discarded in the end for "serious" pieces. It's not that i think that funny or light art (especially in dance) can't be done well, or even be serious pieces - some of my favorite SLC student work in the past has come from Julia P-T or Gorgas (two incredibly comic choreographers) and Mark Morris is a master at containing both humor and biting commentary in his work simultaneously. It's just that for some reason, something in my brain won't let me give as much value to MY work that, in my mind, isn't "important" or "urgent".

So there we go - i'm equating importance with seriousness. There's my issue. I don't like that. So my next piece is going to wrestle with that, at least to start. If it turns into something "serious" (as i'm sure it will), fine, but i'm committed to figuring out my block against the irreverent.

How can something be extremly important, and still retain a commitment to not necessarily being serious?

I'm starting this next piece with a few intentions and images:
1.) use as many of the left-over "non-serious" images that i've never out into action as possible
2.) wrestle with my own linking of serious/urgent (do they have to be linked?)
3.) accept as many absurd outside suggestions as possible.

give me your images. Anything that you've truly wished to see in a modern/postmodern dance. The only catch: you have to actually have wished to see it (or be currently wishing). No insanity just for insanity's sake. Diga me!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

what makes an urgent artist?

In talking with Theo last week about art (specifically my dances, his music, and the TV show Lost) we came to the conclusion that, while we surround ourselves with artists here at Sarah Lawrence and in the greater world as a whole, a huge difference exists between those who live by their art, and those who engage in art-making for the sake of making art. We were talking about art with urgency - both in its subject matter and in its process - and getting frustrated and excited.

So what is "urgent art"? Isn't all art urgent, in some way? At a basic level it has to be, or it doesn't get made. Someone has the urge to make, they make, art is made - that process contains at least origins of urgency. But there's so much bad art out there. Lazy art. Uninventive same art.

In talking with Theo, Alanna, Cavin, others, i am always struck by how our art is compulsory. We do it because we have to or we'll explode. We create to save ourselves and save ourselves by working our shit out via our medium. There's something about this process that, for me gives something to the final product that sets it apart from other work. And while i'm not a huge Kerouac fan, i think he's close here:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”

Art can't be normal.
That's a lie. It can be; i just don't want any of it any more.
Call me an art snob, call me a postmodern intellectual, but more and more it's how i feel.
I'm feeling militant, so forgive this mini-festo:

Art is a call to arms.
Art is redefinition.
Art is process.
Art is a howl.
Art is beautiful, ugly, unsettling, evocative, but not no NEVER not just okay.
Art can be beautiful if the beauty will slap you around, and ugly if it will help you sleep at night.
Art is personal.
Art is urgent.