michael j. morris


Autumn Quartet: Next Phase
6 January, 2010, 11:23 am
Filed under: creative process, Dance | Tags: , , ,

Tonight I am beginning work again with the “Autumn Quartet” that I began in September. The piece has reached a certain identity at this point. It is consistently twenty minutes. We know the material well, we know the algorithm by which it is driven, and we are continuing to know one another. The question over this break (the last month almost) has been, “where will it go next?” These are my thoughts about that. I wish I had time to elaborate and explain each of these ideas in context, but this quarter already feels like it is dragging me behind it. So, for context, find “Autumn Quartet” in the tag cloud to the left and refer to the related posts:

I’m interested in pushing the limits of what we are doing in a lot of ways, making the piece more of what it already is, and finding places to ask what else it might be. These are some of my specific areas of interest:

-The biting: We bite each other in this piece. And I am interested in more . . . ferocity in this biting. But I don’t want to use that word. It has so much implication, connotation. What are the formal qualities in which I am interested? Longer, harder . . . The question becomes, “What is the biting?” It was inspired by the vampire craze in pop culture. But what does it mean to us, to this piece, in this context? What function does it serve? Something like “biting as a way of knowing, a means of exploration.” Something like KNOW(TOUCH)ME(YOU)(MY/YOUR BODY) (which, recently became historically situated for me as relating to a portion of Anna Halprin’s Ceremony of Us), but with our teeth. Not just doing the action, but noticing what each person feels like in between my teeth, noticing if I can feel the layers of tissue through the pressure of my bite, staying with the bite long enough to notice, to recognize, to learn, to recall something of the person that I am biting (and perhaps myself as well . . .)

-Undressing each other: We strip throughout this piece, but an option that is given in the algorithm that is rarely enacted is the action of undressing someone else. I wonder what would happen if at the end, in which we have ended up wearing one another’s clothing, rather than undressing ourselves and returning articles of clothing to their rightful owners, we located our own clothing and removed it from the other person’s body. Undressing each other, and what that might add/reveal to/of the piece.

-Finding the danger/risk: this is a notion presented to me by Bebe Miller last spring, and is discussed by Anne Bogart. I’m interested in pushing the limits of the algorithm, finding what choices we might make that radically alter the piece and our experience of it while still “following the rules.” Examples of this might be the evening in which Eric Falck did not respond to my biting. He just laid there, unresponsive, as I bit him long and hard again and again. This choice was completely within the algorithm, but dramatically shifted the form, content, and tone of the piece. Another idea I have had is making choices of things/actions/phrases within the piece that one will not do, from the beginning personalizing the algorithm to reflect this choice. Etc. I am interested in how the piece might take on new forms/structures/personalities/atmospheres as we continue to probe the outer limits of the algorithm, rather than staying near the predictable.

-I am especially interested in cultivating increased awareness of/in this piece, and of ourselves in the piece. Questions such as (as these questions may constitute an exegesis to be enacted after a run-through/each run-through, deepening our understanding of what we are doing, who we are, and what possibilities there may be through this process of questioning):

-What does it feel like to dance these phrases, do these actions? What are you thinking while you are doing?

-What leads you to make the choices you are making?

-Why do you bite when you bite?

-Can you sense the space between yourself and everyone else as a volume throughout the piece? Do you know what everyone else is doing while you are doing? And how does that change what and how you are doing? What is the physical attention of the piece?

-How do you feel about the other three during the dance?

-How do you feel about yourself during the dance? Who are you (not who are you pretending to be) in this piece right now (EMPHASIZING that the answer will be different with each run-through, because we change and the piece itself changes, thus our answers change)?

-What are you censoring, and why? (both in the dance itself and in the exegesis)

-I am interested in Erik’s suggestion of doing “the piece” without the rules, just to see what happens. This might be the foundation for an improvisation, perhaps post-exegesis/as exegsis.

-What would be scary about stripping to nudity ion this dance? What’s intimidating about being naked together? How might that change with an audience? When in the dance might nudity occur?

Those are my questions as of now. Excited to see where it goes. Off to class now.

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