Saturday, June 6, 2009

Updates, Mind-spew

I am about to begin working on a new piece (which I began thinking about in February, but which is only now becoming a serious consideration). It is always an overwhelming feeling to step into the studio and begin new work. I think that I am lucky in some respects, as I rarely enter the studio with no idea. In face I never begin moving with the intention of making a dance when I don't know what that dance is. Is that a weakness, a mistrust of my body's ability to create, a snobbery, some cerebral prejudice, desire to show off my erudition...and on and on? Probably some of those things are part of it, and some of it is the way I came to dance. I have no idea why I'm a dancer---it makes no sense!

I did not start dancing until I was 20 years old, and not only did I not dance, but I avoided moving for most of my childhood, so I really had no concept of what my body was capable of. My means of creative expression was primarily through writing; I wrote poetry, dabbled in short fiction and filled boatloads of notebooks with "free-writing" (sort of creative non-fiction mind-spew if you will...I will). Writing always seemed natural, because reading was natural. Reading is still the most natural thing I can think of--I will waste an entire day on a novel without a second thought. Given my predilection for ridiculous literature (Ulysses? Why not?), it makes sense that I approach choreographer with my head first and let my body follow. This process of writing, reading, planning, diagramming and reading before I even think of dancing is something that I enjoy and that I'm a tad "stuck" on. I am proud of the work that I make: however, I sometimes feel like a fake. I feel like I make dances that scoff at dance a bit, and that is certainly not my goal.

So why do I make dances...why not just write novels (haha, JUST write novels). The truth is that I think that dance is FUN. Really. That's it. I could write novels (probably not...but let's just say so for now), but I choose to deviate from what is natural for me and break into a field where I'm not all that good (really, when I perform it looks like I have no respect for technique, but actually I am in awe of technique...I just am trying to force these old bones into positions that they are not trained to go, although I'm continually surprised at how much an individual can improve even as they approach thirty), and take my writerly, readerly constructionist creative method and apply it to a body-based art form, which is "supposed" to be beautiful and otherworldly and stunningly effortlessly impressive etc, etc... I do it because it's fun. And because I think that dance audiences and dance makers deserve to see and create works that have meaning, craft and thought.

So out of that spirit of fun, I'm back in the studio (or to be more honest, I haven't really brought this new piece "into the studio" yet). I'm working on a trio for Jackie, Sara and myself, that is based on the 20th love poem from Pablo Neruda's 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair. I'm hoping to perform the piece in the show we're putting up in July (yes that's crazy I know, and you can buy your tix at

The poem is here:
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, 'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.I

no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like she was before my kisses.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

My concept for the piece is to have two representations of the poet as characters. Downstage, with a pile of paper and pencils, writing and crumpling and pining away, is the old poet, remembering his love. Upstage is the memory of the young poet with his love, reliving their romance and parting again and again in the old man's memory. Throughout the piece, the old poet will create a partition, a line on the stage, separating himself from the memories with his poetry. The remembered youths will be cought in an endless wheel of moving towards and away from one another as the lights go down.

The accompanyment will (hopefully) be an original composition by David of classical guitar and a tenor singing the spanish poetry.

Sounds beautiful, but the danger is that all these preconceived notions will make it lose the beauty that it holds in my imagination. We shall see.