michael j. morris


Our lives are the dance?
7 November, 2009, 7:14 pm
Filed under: creative process, Dance | Tags:

There are so many things about which I feel I could blog about right now. My new exposure to the Benesh Notation system. Questions of absence and presence in dance/the body. Eran Hanlon and Julie Fox’s MFA project performance this week. The series of art exhibitions that I am seeing today in Cincinnati.

But in the time that I have, I feel the need to articulate for myself some of the ideas that are occurring to me about the dance I am choreographing.

Is it a “piece”? Or is it some other “life/art” activity?

Are we a “cast”? Or are we four people who are becoming increasingly intimate with one another, and dancing set movement material is part of how we relate/create our time together?

Do we “rehearse”? And if so, what are we rehearsing? A dance or  . . . our lives?

Am I choreographing a dance or am I choreographing relationships, or both? And what are the implications of that?

My research interests have a lot to do with the construction of identity through/in the choreographic process. Now I find myself curious about the role of relationships as well . . . choreography, it might be said, is the movement material content of a dance and the way in which that content is arranged (the structure). If the movement material relates to identity (as situated in the body) then might the organization of that material, the way in which it is structured in time/space/etc. be related to relationship? Relationship between moving bodies, relationships between identities? What if relationships themselves were the choreographic structure? What does that even mean?

It’s truly odd to me. Building intimacy in a group of people has been a part of how I have worked with casts of dancers for years. I almost always include some sort of writing component in my rehearsal process in which we share aspects of who we are as a supplement to the material of the piece. But this is different. I feel as thought this is different somehow, more risky? It feels as if the intimacy, the relationships being created as part of this process, are not in preparation for or a supplement to some other endeavor. It isn’t the cultivation of personal intimacy for the sake of integrating the “cast.” It feels as if the relationships and ways of relating, elusive, nebulous, difficult to even describe or define, are the “point,” the “piece,” the “project.” What I find myself wondering is whether there is a potential correlation between:

-movement material as an extension of personal identity

-choreographic structure as a metaphor for interpersonal relationship

If movement is reflective of personal identity, then the way in which that movement is organized amongst multiple moving bodies might somehow correspond/describe/emerge from the social situation of  those personal identities.

What I feel like may be happening in this piece is the privileging of interpersonal relationships/intimacy as the choreographic structure.

What does that mean?

How does the way in which the [set] movement material is organized reflect (or emerge from) the relationships that we are cultivating with one another? How might the structure of the “dance” be an enactment of these relationships utilizing the set movement material as the content?

There is more than one things going on here . . . I think that by transmitting movement material that was generated as/in/from my dancing body (my identity) to the bodies of the dancers with whom I am working, we are engaging in a process of constituting identities. What has occur to/from my body gradually occurs more “naturally” (an admittedly charged word) to/from/in (why can’t I settle on prepositions today?) the bodies of these other dancers. If the body is the site of identity, then their identities have shifted/altered/transformed in this process. That implicit power dynamic may be one of the most fascinating and troubling aspects of choreography (for me). I am not just making dances, I am contributing to the continual formation of the content of identity.

[I suddenly became curious about the materials by which identity is constituted. I am increasingly of the theory that identity is not a fixed point, a concrete structure, but a constantly fluctuating composition of materials. Perhaps identity is not persistent in time, but is moment by moment re-constituted. The resemblance of the individual to her or him self from moment to moment has something to do with the consistency of the materials from which he or she is constructing his or her identity . . . and how persistent are these materials? I think I am asserting that the movement material transmitted in the choreographic process is a significant material for the construction of identity. What are other materials? Personal perception? Social/cultural conditioning? Emotions? Etc. And how persistent are these materials? How long do they linger? Are they somehow refreshed with use, fading or dissolving as they are incorporated as part of identity with decreasing frequency? How long does a dance live as part of who the dancer is?]

In addition to the construction of/contribution to the construction of individual identity through movement material, there is in this process the active cultivation (implementation? instigation?) of intimacy between these individual persons (me, Eric, Erik, Amanda). Not only through the dancing . . . through touching one another, through talking, telling our body histories to one another, contact improvisation, biting one another . . . part of what is being “choreographed” is the ways in which we know and relate to one another. If the organization of interpersonal relationships has some correlation to the organization of movement material is time/space (choreographic structure), then part of what I may be interested in attempting is finding away to assume these relationships as the choreographic structure itself (as opposed to a quality of the structure. . .). What if the dance is something that occurs as our lives? What if our lives are the dance?

Big, loose, nebulous ideas . . . I think the piece is somewhere in between all of this, in a constellation of other points of interest (undressing/redressing, the cultural phenomenon of fascination with vampires, the cooch dancers in Carnivale, etc.)

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1 Comment so far
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Maybe relationships shouldn’t be cultivated with an intention towards integration.

Comment by Clara




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