michael j. morris


60×60 Dance

Coming 3 October, 60×60, an evening of new, original choreography to Wall Street Nightclub!

You can read a bit more about this event here.

For a longer post about this event by my friend and colleague CoCo Loupe, click here.

“Over 30 choreographers from around Ohio (including me!) have been commissioned to make an evening of 60 1-minute dances to 60 1-minute original music compositions . . .”

I am creating two new one-minute dances for this event, although I would be lying if I said that I knew exactly what I am going to do. The two track to which I am choreographing are extremely different. As of now, it looks as if the two pieces will be two solos, choreographed and performed by myself. I was hoping to create a duet for one of the tracks, but with the show so quickly approaching, I think time necessitates that I get into a studio with myself and figure out what these dances are going to be. These are my thoughts/ideas/questions thus far:

I’m thinking about nudity. Wall Street is an 18-an-older venue, and it’s unique that I perform in venues like that. I’m interested in what possibilities might be presented by the venue/audience restrictions. I have long been interested in deconstructing the disparity between the “social body” and the “actual body.” To be clear, by the “social body,” I mean something like the clothed body, the body as it is perceived through its social frames of clothing and make-up and hair product, etc., as opposed to the actual body that constitutes the individual. While there are absolutely socially constructed aspects to the body/individual itself (such as mannerism, posture, stance, gait, spatial organization, etc., all as ongoing performance of socially driven perceptions and expectations), those are aspects that are inseparable in each moment from the corporeal identity of the individual. It makes me think of something Judith Butler wrote in an article entitled “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution.” She wrote:

“Gender is in no way a stable identity or a locus of agency from which various acts proceed; rather, it is an identity tenuously constituted in time–an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts. Further, gender is instituted through the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gesture, movements, and enactments of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.”

Certainly their is social generated and driven content in the bodily identity, even at the naked level. And I am fascinated by this to no end. But what I am more interested in as potential source material for these pieces is the distinction between the regularly perceived social body (the body as we present it to one another on a daily basis), and the irregularly perceived actual body. Both have fabricated elements, but they are not the same. I am interested in how a one minute dance at an 18-and-older venue might potentially contribute to the deconstruction of the “illusion” of the former.

The question for me is immediately: how would this be different from stripping? how is it different from “nudity for nudity’s sake”? will this deconstructive process be successful in the span of one minute, or is our culture so at odds with nudity that it will simply be either shocking, or easily classified as something recognizable?

I’m thinking about runway shows using the body as a support for the display of clothing, and inverting that to make the clothing (or the removal of clothing) a support for the display of the body. Wall Street has a stage and go-go platforms, and countertops. I’m not sure how any of these might come into the work.

I’m thinking about the Judson Dance piece Random Breakfast, the first section called “The Strip,” performed by Valda Setterfield, choreographed by David Gordon. Sally Banes writes about it in Democracy’s Body:

“The first section, “The Strip,” was a dance for Setterfield. Dressed in a long blue velvet gown that belonged to Waring and had numerous small buttons down the front, long gloves with more buttons, a hat, pearls, and a fur stole, she performed a strip tease to “authentically brassy strip music.” Gordon says that, “She looked like Queen Mary taking her clothes off in public. She walked in a circle forever, taking one thing of at a time, all those buttons to open, the dress, the petticoat, a long-line brassiere, garter belt, stockings, bloomers, limping along in one high-heeled shoe, never breaking the rhythm of the circular walk. She was somehow extraordinarily genteel parading in that circle and dropping her clothing. She discarded all the clothing in a neat pile so that when she was done she could stoop down and gather it all up together in a huge bundle. The dowager empress had become a naked rag lady.””

I’m thinking about the difference between dressing and undressing, or undressing and then dressing. Both create a palindrome in time, but how might where you end up be different than where you began because of what has transpired? How is a clothed body different after undressing and redressing than it is before that process? 

I’m also thinking about the slow, sustained quality that my work can sometimes have, and how that might find unique expression in the course of one minute.

I’m thinking about Love Art Lab because I am always thinking about Love Art Lab.

I’m thinking about Clara’s solo from Sketches of Shame, because I just notated a part of it last week, and how that is still some of my favorite movement I’ve ever generated. I don’t know if those gestures/ideas will come into this work or not.

I know SO MANY PEOPLE who are involved in this show. It should be a truly exciting event populated by great artists. I hope you can see it if you re in the area. From CoCo:

“Please SAVE THE DATE for this incredible event! Original contemporary dance and music works …..60 of each….all performed in 60-minutes……at Wall Street Nightclub…..Details below!

WHAT? 60×60 Ohio

DATE?
 Saturday, October 3, 2009

TIME? two shows: 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm

COST? $5 at the door

WHERE?
Wall Street Nightclub
144 N Wall St
Columbus, OH 43215-2800
(614) 464-2800

EXTRA STUFF? 18+ only (as per Wallstreet Nightclub) “

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

1/2 clothed, 1/2 naked.
switch in 60 seconds.
clothe the naked side by harvesting the remnants of identity from clothed side.
reveal naked self from under material identity of clothed side.
just an idea.

Comment by cocoloupedance

i see a 1/2 of a full length gown….and one stiletto. gown is “bandeau” style. 1 minute to step out of stiletto and step in with other foot and slowly slide 1/2 of dress to other side.

i can see you doing this. sorry…the choreographer/mediator couldn’t keep her thoughts to herself.

Comment by cocoloupedance

While I don’t have anything coherent to add….

There’s something about the stylized repetition of acts.

Something about “it’s not what you got it’s what you do with it.”

Something about stripping seeming to be mostly about hiding behind your nakedness. You’re not making any choices about how you want to portray yourself to the world when you’re naked. What’s there is what’s there. And it’s a bewildering blank slate.

Shame seems like it should come into it again, but strangely does not.

Making yourself the victim, before someone else forces you to play the victim.

Shock value.

So nice about “The Strip”. Classic icebreaker. Juxtaposing an even movement quality with something that’s supposed to be salacious. People probably didn’t realize what was happening until her clothes were in a bundle on the floor. And were probably disturbed by the image of her holding the bundle of clothes. And undisturbed by her naked body.

I don’t think this has been at all helpful; but I wanted to comment. >_<

Comment by Clara

Thank you, my ladies, for amazing input. Whether or not these things come into this piece or not, they are definitely shaping ideas for the future.

Just found out that Wall Street (the venue) has a “no nudity” policy (even though it is 18+), which feels absurd and oddly puritanical. No frontal nudity, and rear nudity has to be covered with at least an inch of fabric. So I suppose I’ll just strip to underwear maybe.

I think I’m interested in a simplistic form for this piece, almost as a primitive study for a larger, more involved exploration of these ideas. The structure (as of today) is: starting farthest away from audience, moving forward (as if on a catwalk), removing articles of clothing. Pause at front end of catwalk. Turn and move back up catwalk re-dressing. Pause at starting position. In 1 minute.

We’ll see where this goes. I probably won’t get into a studio to work these ideas until Saturday, a week before the show. The other piece is in the makings . . . more gestures and movements responding to the music rather than an independent research interest. We’ll see how this all pans out.

Thanks again for the input. You’re wonderful, both of you.

-M

Comment by morrismichaelj




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