Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hey all! First post by text! Way number 52 - 'develop systems to deal with systems. Within the matrix of systems, locate where the dust is trickling in from the single hairline crack in the celing. You will wake from drowning.'

And the New Epic is called......

Some pieces (like 2007’s “Haunt”) start with titles. Others weed out the title as they go, eventually letting you know what they want to be called. Others never settle, and get named something that feels eternally not quite right, ever almost there. I know it’s not a big deal, but titles are important to me. They’re branding, they’re expressive, and they’re informational. And (although I’ve been told by many that I need to care less about the audience “getting it”) they’re a chance to communicate something essential about the piece in the language of words.

Which is why I’m so pleased that a title (of sorts) has started to draft up from the depths of our (approaching year-long) work on the AOMC’s new epic. It’s not final, certainly, and I worry that blogging about it might out it too early (when I first told Cristina and Lillie the tentative new title, I whispered it in their ears) and make it less fitting. But it’s time to share it with you. Drum roll please?

“90 ways to wake from drowning”

What do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? Before I tell you anything, how does it relate to what you’ve seen so far of the piece?

There are many variations (“90 vs. Ninety”, why 90? What about 27?, Wake or wake, Drowning or drowning, Wake/drowning? Drowning/wake?, and also a possible tag at the end of it – “(he knows she is making this piece)”) but however it evolves, title or not, the implication and the idea is there, and it’s really begun to loft the piece for me in an extremely helpful way.

What does it mean: to wake from drowning? It’s a curious phrase, yet one that appeared out of the blue on my tongue feeling normal and old, as if I had been saying it for a while now which, I haven’t. I think it does a great job of encompassing the entirety of all the different aspects of the piece – something I haven’t been able to do yet. To me it speaks to waking from the drowning sensations of dreams of past or future lovers and the different ways to do so – snap out of it heart racing and eyes wide, try to hold on to it as you slip back into reality, push yourself out of it fighting and kicking, go through the day unable to shake it off, part with it mutually, etc. It also speaks to the cyclical/purgatorial nature of the piece – Her arc of a constantly repeating struggle to pass beyond her current fixation/experience/location, and how she seems (at many parts) to be at the surface of “waking” but keeps being pulled back by His undercutting. It speaks to water – the universal symbol or image of sexuality (and memories of an English teacher writing “WATER = SEX, ALWAYS.” on the black board.) It speaks to the idea of multiple levels of consciousness and reality – some more based in reality yet less “real” than others – and His and Her traversal of these boundaries using unconsciousness as a means of transportation and osmosis. There’s something too about the closeness of physical danger to survival – when I say “wake from drowning” am I referencing the self destructiveness of the piece? The car crashes and falls and falls and falls? Maybe it’s the feeling that they’re the only thing that can get Her through the surface. It’s quite sadomasochistic, really: thud enough, and you’ll wake from drowning. Maybe.


It’s all Tom Robbin’s fault, really.

Even before she passed it along to me, my roommate had to keep reading me passages of “Still Life with Woodpecker” out loud. It’s one of those books. I read it as soon as she finished and loved it. The book has many, many things to love about it, but one of the things that I fell in love with was the reoccurring theme in the book of “how to make love stay”, not so much in content, as for its structure glorious structure.

Tom writes:

“Who knows how to make love stay?

Tell love you are going to the Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.

Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.

Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.”

And that was it.
And I put down the book for a second.

And I smiled and/or frowned

(whatever I do when I’m thinking – you know better than me).

And I said: “Oh. 90 ways to wake from drowning.”

So that’s what we’ve been doing in rehearsal, and that’s what I’ve been doing every night and sometimes on the train. Writing a list of ways to wake from drowning. To say I’m pleased with what’s coming out of that structure is an understatement. It’s perfect. I’m not sure how it incorporates (movement-wise) with the piece yet – the idea was raised that maybe we’ll just write hundreds upon hundreds, and the 90 that are supposed to be a part of the piece (I mean, really supposed to be a part of the piece) will be included in the program, and nothing more. I like that idea. But they may be movement too. Some of them are too good not to be.

Here are a few so far from me that I’ve been happy with (more from the dancers, which are the really amazing ones, soon):

“Push your lover’s face under the surface of the water and realize they aren’t breathing,
just waiting. You will wake from drowning.”

“Let days go by, let water in glasses by the window dry up, forget to water your fichus. You will wake from drowning.”

“Let the cold sweat from the back of your neck press indents into pillows, leaving coffee stains of the him of last week. You will wake from drowning.”

“Pile bile spit lymph fingernails lemon rind in one hand and nipples cold sex sweat and sugar in the other. Rub vigorously, creating an exfoliating agent. Exfoliate. You will wake from drowning.”

“Barter with the drowning on the off chance that it has a consciousness.”

“Purse the word ‘rupture’ on your lips. You will wake from drowning.”

“List reasons why sex, elbows, a brown comforter, a white bed, and sounds of beltway traffic have nothing to do with waking, or drowning. They are, after all, just objects in a room.”

“No. no. no. no. nonononononono, please no. That is how you wake from drowning.”

“Kill cockroaches. You will wake from drowning.”

“Wait until one leg falls asleep. Run through empty wooden houses shouting everything but his name, and occasionally his name. Pull a splinter from your heel and use it as a toothpick. You will wake from drowning.”
We’ll keep writing and posting them (I’m setting it up so my dancers can either blog or tweet them directly via text message) and I thoroughly encourage you to send any you come up with to or post them in the comments of this post. We’ll keep you updated, and if any movement comes out of it we’ll post video asap.

But here’s the real question: are you awake, drowning, waking, or sleeping? Or maybe just sleep-walking into that luscious womb, that unconscious, time-travel-allowing void. You know, the one called “oh, it’s on.” We’re here, boys and girls, creating and rehearsing, and the piece is finally arriving.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Intern Kate's first day // a primer in the aesthetics of mess

Today was Kate's first day in the office (ie: my bedroom + desk) working with me! She's totally awesome and efficient, but this isn't news - she danced for me back in 2008 in "D()!L@rS !N tHe B@nK!", so i know she's legit from way back. She offered to do some admin work for the us, and i quickly took her up on her offer - BAMN! that's how it happens!

Anyway. Today i got her started on two of our MegaTasks for the summer: revitalizing the AOMC's facebook presence (ie: making our group into a "page", which is how you're supposed to do it now...adding video, making new "friends", etc) and getting old performances and dancefilms up on vimeo. Have i mentioned how awesome this girl is? She got SO MUCH DONE!

Check it out - they're still both works in process, but we'd love for you to
///Become a FAN!/// of the Collective's facebook page (Urgent Artist facebook page to come soon!) and ///Check out our VIMEO page!///
to see some awesome vintage AOMC stuff. It's far from polished (as it's stuff from the past time and not the now time or the future time) but it's fun to see all we've done in the past three years!

One of the things that getting all this stuff out of archive has made me think about is how my interests as an artist have evolved over the past few years and, more specifically, where those interests first started and where they're headed.

One of the most obvious to me, is the emergence of a fixation with "the aesthetics of mess". Mess is quickly becoming a part of our branding (take our new slogan: "Anti-Ephemeral PoMo Humanism //ie: hot mess.//") and a bigger part of what's important to me aesthetically. Where did it come from? As far as i can tell, i've always been a little fixated. I can remember preferencing imperfection to clarity for much of my childhood and teenage years (okay, maybe it was an angsty thing) and aesthetically, i can remember being attracted to images and displays of mess in art galleries and movies. In terms of my own work, however, it's a little less clear. Where does a fixation like that come from? What is the second that a fixation clicks into existence and begins to grow? Before i go off on a tangent about my fixation with the origin of fixations, let's get back on track: the aesthetics of mess.

During my junior year at Sarah Lawrence College I took my first real film class, and our first assignment was to take a work we had already done and re-make the same idea or theme using a different layout or series of images. I took this piece that i had made the year before:

which was in turn made off of a stage piece called "Five on Love and Lack Thereof" and re-did it in a bathroom setting. This is what the final result (my first time editing on final cut) looked like:

While i didn't find it hugely successful (at the then time or in the now time) for a few reasons (mainly lack of experience), it did spark a few things in me. The main sparkage, of course being mess. But what kind of mess? I'm a structuralist at heart, so even mess is organized in the way i think about it.

What kind indeed. White mess, lots of white mess. Specifically: an aesthetic attraction to large quantities of white pedestrian items used in ways that generate a large amount of mess, disorder, etc. SO. When it came time for our final products at the end of the film class, i knew what i wanted.

It's much simpler to connect the dots in hindsight (i wasn't aware at the time) but the White Arias Project is a clear descendant of this original film. Made of two separate films (although there was a third milk-based film in the works) "Eggshells" and "Flour" both hold a special place in my heart. I can't show you Eggshells, much as i'd like to, at the request of the semi-nude dancers who performed it, but here's Flour:

So. Clear, right? In hindsight. But!
Looking towards the future time:

Do you see where it's going!?!
It's so nice to discover a context to give oneself mid-process, and so exciting to imagine adding a new voice to the mess-dialogue happening between my works!

Which is all of course to say: Kate is an AWESOME intern for posting all of this so i can share it with you! Look for a post from her soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

From Rehearsal 7/3 @ Soundance

"i bloom so lonely"

Yes folks, it's semi-official.
What once was "Glass Tree" is getting over-hauled and re-worked and will now be (the/ilona's/a) "Bloomcycle".

For starters, "glass tree" was an idea and image that was, to me, very specific to Julia. Since she's no longer dancing it, I needed to mentally shift it before a choreographic re-envisioning could be made. This is, you'll remember, the section that once was Julia dancing 30 short phrases with a plastic bag (cut off by her injury), which was genesis for the SIDEsubTEN project (cut off by inexperienced planning on my part). With all that bad karma (silly as it sounds, it really starts to weigh you down if you don't address it) I felt a need to re-examine and redefine it if we were going to keep it in the piece.

Not that this is a bad instinct for any section - we've been doing it organically for all the sections, and this one just got dusty because we left it under the bed for so long. So yes - time to redefine.

For starters, i want to give it more of a contrast between the lightness (almost unapparent in the first version) and more breadth spatially. I'm also playing with ideas about involving the whole group into it (either as to-be-thrown-bag suppliers or as movers) and really focusing on what it means that it's the last "spot of time" that She attempts to show Him, and how it can or can't function as the end of the piece or transition to that end. Also, with Ilona dancing it (for now) and Ilona being Her (for now), there are certainly questions bubbling up about how that changes both it's positioning within the piece, and the movement itself. So that's a lot.

Why "bloomcycle"?
Well...i was looking through an old notebook trying to figure out what to do with the material we'd made, looking for things we'd moved on from or forgotten, and i came across this:

"Bloomcycles" and further down the page "i bloom so lonely"

both of those kind of stuck with me, despite the fact that i have NO recollection of why i wrote them down, though i can recall the rehearsal, place i was sitting, and people who were there. I think it fits with what that section is aiming for - She (and bear with me, becuase this is new, as of Ilona being cast as Her) is finally exploding, or blooming, or wilting, or even just saying something, even if it's just a whisper. She's finally using her own voice, rather than speaking through these other metaphors, and it's directly about her state - the conflict of feeling okay, feeling progress, feeling some semblance of power, and then also being continually undercut, getting more and more frustrated, feeling less and less progress. So the idea that blooming could be lonely, that fits. And the idea of it being a cycle points to the possibility of involving other dancers, and the notion that becuase of the undercutting, her evolution is cyclical. And then of course there's Leopold Bloom, and he fits with everything.

Maybe i'm christening this a bloomcycle to see where he leads it - he's always taking me somewhere interesting.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From 7/3/09 @ Chez Bushwick

Lighting Notes from the A.O. Movement Collective on Vimeo.

A conversation:

"Have you found what you're looking for? Have you made sense of it?
(pause) Do you have an answer? A conclusion?"

"Not yet."

"Do you need to go back? See it all again?"


(and later)

"Why can't i see the real thing?"

"Because it's not yours. It doesn't exist any more."

"Then what am i seeing? Why am i stuck here?"

"Look again."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New videos for your face to see + heartmuscle to love

The other exciting news of late is that the AOMC has finally caved (at the suggestion of Richert, after seeing the quality from his new baby) and bought a flip camera! I've been hearing Doug Fox talk about them for a while, but was never really convinced until I got to take a look firsthand.

It was getting increasingly hard to get my camera (which, make no mistake, i LOVE, but it's HUGE) to rehearsals, and I didn't want to worry about it getting stolen, damaged, etc from carrying it around all day for a rehearsal at night. Anyway - this is great news for all parties involved, because it makes it incredibly easy for us to get you footage of rehearsals. Take this week for instance.

We're back in the studio after some time off post DC show (which was FAB, thanks! I have some awesome pics, but need to get rights to them before i can post...) and I had the dreaded first day back by myself. I'm working on creating creating a solo for myself to put in the epic, which, lordbabyjesus knows, is neither my strong suit, or my idea of fun. HOWEVER, I'm committed to giving it a try. A really tough rehearsal all around, but here are some clips I pulled from my improvisations of things that stuck out to me.

Today was much more fun.
I had rehearsal after work with Lillie @ Chez Bushwick, and we banged out a few things. We worked a little with ideas of sloughing and drunken stumbling for a new beginning to SLFdstrcTV and started playing with this little cutie of a phrase:

and Lillie also helped me work on some improvisation and movement sourcing for the solo. We used a structure (loosely) based on one that Ashley Byler did with us a lot in her last piece i was in - on person looking at the other dancing, taking it in, and then trying to replicate points of interest and/or specificity that the are clear in the other one. We went back and forth a few times, discussed, did it again.

We used some music by Atmosphere to bring out some qualities I'm interested in putting in the solo - force and effort-laden movement that seems to be natural to me, the idea of threat or violence outside vs internally, etc. We wanted to test a hypothesis about using this music to create something that, once the music was taken away, came across as more violent and neurotic. What do you think?

Moresoon, lovealways,

the AOMC + Urgent Artist are back in action!

Hi all - apologies to begin for the increasing lack of posting. We've been taking some time to rest (ha, no, not really) and plan for the future, but starting right now we're back with a vengeance!

We had a great company meeting a few weeks ago, and one of the things we talked about was really improving the blog, doing a total revamp both in terms of look and writers, and really giving you more and better. It will be done! Watch for some new writers soon, and as always, if you have something you'd like to contribute, just let me know!

We have some insanely exciting news for you - 2 pieces actually - but until a certain contract is signed I'm only at liberty to tell you about one, so here's the first:

we've been shortlisted for EMPAC!!!

If you haven't been following, EMPAC's DANCE MOViES Commission is awarded to four projects annually, and funds the creation of a new dancefilm. We applied with a proposal to turn "13 Variations on a Car Crash" into a dancefilm - hopefully the first step in making a dancefilm version of the whole epic. It's a complete honor to be chosen for the shortlist - the group of films that make it to the second round to be judged by the pannel - and we'll know by July 15th who the lucky four are. It's still a LONG ways off and really tough odds, but I feel really great about our applicaiton. It would be so exciting to get to start work on a film and really feel like we have the budget and support to really make it the way it wants to be made rather than shoestring budget and no time, but for now i'm concentrating on that perfect balance of not thinking about it too much and crossing my fingers whenever possible. WANT IT. send your good vibes our way.

The second piece of news is equally exciting, but you'll have to stay tunned for that one. I promise - the second i'm allowed to tell you'll know becuase i'll blurt it out everywhere.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that we're back, we're excited, and we can't wait to get you back up to date on what we've been working on, wondering, watching, and other w words.

Sarah A.O. // the AOMC