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.



Tony said...


I have found you here in the depths of the blogosphere. Call this history in the making. I also saw your post on the dancetech.ning . thing "Beyond the Viscera".

Here are some observations:
You seem to be heavily invested in the word "post-modern".
You write:
This subviscera, or “subvisc” for short, is inherent in every piece of postmodern dance, regardless of the choreographer’s intensions or desires.
and coin terms such as "pomogenerate" to describe your methodology.
I wonder:
What do you mean by pomo/postmodern?
Are you trying to indicate the very cutting edge up to the second nowness of the work?
Are you trying to indicate a deviation from codified "modern" forms?
Are you trying to show an allegiance or connection with postmodern theory including post-structuralism, deconstructionism and ideas about orders of simulation?

I suggest you peek at what Banes and Manning have to say about postmodern dance and what criteria they apply to its definition. A good start is with this essay.

If your work were a farce, no real performance, just historicizing and documentation, a fabricated mythology of a memory of a dance, then we would make Baudrillard clap indeed.

If I am really you writing this right now pretending to be me with the full consciousness that it could be both of us or either of us then again we would make the frenchies clap aswell.

You made a beautiful dance and are experimenting with an interesting methodology. Perhaps you should forgo categorizing the work right now. You will loose nothing. The fewer claims you make about the action of your work the more it will exceed those claims.

If you want to invoke the term postmodern to indicate a solid terrain you wish to colonize then you should clarify your terms.

Best of luck. Pomodegenerate or post-pomogranite I look forward to seeing your artifact.


Copy_ said...

Hi Sarah,

I was reading over your ideas, and about how the subvisc is more important to you than what Tony calls the artifact.

I find that to be aligned with most of collegiate, academic dance.

Now, I say this to you NOT to equate your concerns with redundancy - - a la contraire!

I actually think that your awareness of this phenomenon within yourself exposes a choreographic phenomenon that pervades the field, unintentionally. Your awareness illuminates this way of working in a way that stands to elevate the currently unconscious approach current choreographers have when making anything. This is a shadowy area of dance - a shadow that threatens its doom.

Do we know why dance is underfunded? Because choreographers, especially of the academic variety, do not know how to entice the audience to SHARE their concern with what you call the subvisc.

This is an area of dance that particularly fascinates me, as it affects our entire field. While we have people like William Forsythe working on an online performance to educate non-dance audiences in how to see dance expertly, to give dance people jobs, people he is targeting will likely never see his video, and dance people will not get more jobs, they'll nod approvingly that the choir once again has been preached to. I feel that it is our responsibility to reach out to diverse communities through participation.

I'm working on a thesis idea of my own, and I'd love to integrate your subviscera ideas. We should collaborate!

(this is one leg of the thesis)