michael j. morris

this I believe

I have been neglecting my blog lately. I’ve gone over a month without posting anything.
Life right now is a montage of:
-Teaching “Writing About Dance,” a second-level writing class for undergrads at OSU–a sort of introduction to dance criticism–which involves hours and hours of grading papers. It is time consuming, but full of rewards, not the least of which is the opportunity to share dance/dances with students who have only experienced dance in limited settings, if at all.
-Reading Judith Butler. I am taking a seminar in the “Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies” department focused that is entirely focused on the works of Judith Butler. It’s being taught by Mary Thomas. I’m thinking a lot about subjectivity, psychoanalytic frameworks, speech act, and the constraints of epistemology on ontology. This week I’m reading Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death.
-Writing. I’m taking a writing course called “Aesthetics and Criticism” from M.Candace Feck, and it is giving me an opportunity to delve deeply into the intensive project of my own writing. I will share some of those writings here.
-Dancing. I did a video shoot two weeks ago for Lindsay Caddle LaPointe, in which I danced with a giant sculpture of a praying mantis. The next two weekends I’ll be performing with cocoloupedance at TRAUMA.
-Teaching yoga. I teach a yoga class every Wednesday night. It’s called “Queer Yoga” and is sponsored by “Queer Behavior.” Currently, the class meets at 83 Gallery in the Short North, Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30, $5 for students, $8 for the general public.

In an effort to share a bit of this with some range of readership, I’m posting a piece of writing I did earlier this quarter. It follows the format for “This I Believe” on NPR. You can read the essay guidelines here. Below is my statement of belief, specifically my belief about dance. I’m considering submitting it to “This I Believe,” but either way, I wanted to publish it here:

Who/How I?

I believe that dancing is an act of forming, deforming, and reforming the body/self, a belief that turns back on itself, calling into question this very “I” whose belief is professed. Dancing has taught me that “I” am my body, even if “I” exceed my body and even if my body exceeds “me.”

Language is limited—and limiting—in this way: to articulate myself in speech is always to simplify and to reduce myself within the term “I,” an anonymous first-person that accounts for myself only in ways that are presumed to be shared with all others who have described themselves with this term. Indifferent to whatever words might surround this “I” in a given context, it is the perpetual declaration of a self that remains the same with each repetition; each time this term is deployed, “I” represent myself as unchanged. This is not the only limitation of language: to speak of “my body” is always to figure it as separate from myself, as property—“mine”—which, in order to be possessed, must necessarily be distinct from the “I” who claims it. From within the boundaries of what is speakable then, “I” feel myself questioning, “What of myself is excluded from this term ‘I?’” and protesting, “No! This body is not ‘mine,’ it is me!

Dancing cannot be limited within these constraints of language. In dancing, “I” am never separate from this body that moves, nor is this body unchanged by its motion. Dancing reveals myself as more fluid than solid, more transient than persistent, continually mutating with each gesture, often in ways uncertain and unforeseen. Through these bendings and flingings and fallings and collidings and tumblings and sinkings; through fleshy places become firm then flaccid, finding firmness once again to only again inevitably become flaccid; through the touch of skin against skin, the calm and sudden disorientation of giving and taking weight that confuses “you” and “I”; through encountering another’s movement as my own, taking in choreography that becomes yet another version of myself; through focus that transforms cells into galaxies and becomes a prayer in the gaps of body-becoming-universe; through calluses and tears, surfaces pushing and opening outward, clarifying the uncertainty of my boundaries; through sweating and bleeding and crying, flowing beyond myself: through dancing, “I” am made as this body, a making that is always both unmaking and remaking.

Dancing reveals myself as a matter of repetition with difference, each moment of movement becoming both this body again and for the first time, each “again” not quite the same as it emerges from the cellular and neural residue of actions that came before. Regardless of whether the movement is thought of as rehearsed or improvised, it is always both, a reiteration of how “I” have been before and an enunciation of how (thus who) “I” am now. As this body moves in so many ways through so many forms, its dancing displaces and replaces this “I”—and this nearly ineffable fluctuation becomes my most fervent belief.

ecosexuality; performing pleasure?
13 January, 2011, 8:44 am
Filed under: creative process, Grad School, research | Tags: ,

I had two amazingly inspiring meetings yesterday, one with my advisor Norah Zuniga Shaw, and the other with artist/collaborator/friend Karl Cronin. Lots of ideas finding echoes and raising questions and organizing thoughts. Focusing on ecosexuality; building a pillar of “what is sex [and how does it construct bodies]” to support my work (likely looking more at Foucault, keeping it grounded in queer theories, maybe bringing in Tantric paradigms of sexuality, using queer porn as an archive/index of queer performance, probably keeping Bataille in the mix, and possibly drawing on work by contemporary sexologists working at the borders of sex–people like Annie Sprinkle and Joesph Kramer, etc.); building a “pillar” out of sex+”nature” (drawing on ecofeminism, queer ecology–which might mean giving myself more of a focused crash course in ‘traditional’ ecology, Donna Haraway as a useful destabilizing force for ideas about “nature, etc.); the application of these frameworks to body-based performance, their relational constructions of “nature” and the human subject (looking at folks like Rudolf von Laban, Anna Halprin, Butoh artists (TBD), Love Art Lab, Karl Cronin, twincest, etc.).
There might be something there . . .

In the mix of all of this is the relational formation of the choreographer/dancer/dance. That might be a separate project entirely. I do think that ecosexuality as a framework might reveal something about this relational production of bodies/dances, so I haven’t let go of it yet . . . it just might be a different project.

There’s this book I want to read by Linda Williams. I skimmed part of it yesterday; a primary discussion in the text is about making “sex speak through the visual confession of bodily pleasure” (Linda Williams Hard Core: power, pleasure, and the frenzy of the visible). As I’m considering what it might be to do an analysis of how queer bodies are performed in queer porn, this gave me something to consider, especially as the queer porn genre (alongside/mixed in with feminist porn) has identified itself considerably by citing the “real” pleasure of its performers.

Rambling thoughts:

performing pleasure as the construction of erogenous corporeal landscape; performances of pleasure as forming bodies; performances of pleasure as a topography of erogenous zones, especially those zones that extend beyond the binary of man/woman and reproductive organs; could performances of pleasure function as a topography of sex/bodies beyond the borders of a heterosexual reproductive economy of signification?

how is pleasure materialized? movement, sound, fluids

fluids as confession; fluid as evidence of pleasure; pleasure as demonstrative of the “truths” of bodies, thus constituting the possibilities of bodies for the spectator [Norah kept mentioning the “wetness” of ecology, and there’s something to that . . . how do ecological systems function differently from other systems (computer networks, etc.)? it might be something in the wetness (which makes me want to look at biotechnologies at some point . . .). there seems to be an echo between fluid as a form of confession, fluid as demonstration of pleasure (which might be a total hegemonic construction, built up around cum shots and female ejaculation . . . and if I want to read bodies beyond biology, read bodies in prosthetics, in silicone and latex, in dildos and condoms and gloves (all as sexual technologies grafted into the sexual body) then does lube function as a fluidic signifier of pleasure? I don’t know yet) and the “wetness” of ecological systems.

fluids. membranes. border crossing. border dissolving. loss of [discontinuous, discrete individual] self in the mingling of fluids . . . or the management of membranes. safe-sex as environmental management, “wilderness preservation”?

Things I want to learn more about:
Beatriz Preciado
trans bodies

[the way I’m writing ideas here feels like it’s getting messier . . .]

brainstorming about research/dissertation

It never ceases to amaze me how just a little time and space (in this case, the first day of the Thanksgiving break) can allow so much development of thought.
I’m beginning (continuing?) to map through how some of these ideas, these various research pursuits, might cohere into concepts and theories, and eventually chapters and a possible dissertation.

The frame I’m beginning to construct (which will certainly go through the process of deconstruction and reconstruction, likely again and again and again) looks something like this:

It begins with the deconstruction of the discontinuous bounded individual/body, the body that stops at the flesh, the human subject that is discrete from the environment in which it occurs and the vast nexus of intersubjective forces by which the subject (and thus the body) comes into being. This could have its roots in phenomenology and the implication of the subject in the perceived life-world, reinforced by studies/philosophies of embodied cognition, perception, and maybe even psychology (I still feel like I need to educate myself on “continuum psychology” and “ecological psychology”). With this as a foundation, there is space to begin to incorporate (pun intended) Tantric philosophy (hopefully as a critical theory), queer theories, relationality, and most recently Georges Bataille (as of this week—this is still a very fresh connection), each one contributing to the destabilization of the fixed edges of the individual subject/body along trajectories of desire and the erotic (among other things). I feel like from there I could begin to establish a theory of ecosexuality, the mobilization of (queer) sexual epistemologies in the destabilization/expansion of the individual and the (anti-colonial) in-corporation of the perceived “other.” It might be necessary (I hope not) to address the subversion/mutation of the symbolic register (Lacan, I think?) as the affect of an ecosexual paradigm and performativity (in an effort to establish how/what things are changed by this altered sense of “self”/body).

This might constitute a first section, possibly with multiple chapters?

The second section is where this theoretical framework could begin to find application in dance practices. Right now (today) I’m framing these practices in three large groups:

1. The incorporation of space as the body: I feel like this is where Laban studies can come to bear, the body never functioning as a body in a vacuum, but a body-in-space whereby both the body and space take on (mobile) definition through their unity with one another. Other movement methodologies might also come into play, things like Viewpoints (of which I know almost nothing), architecture-based scoring systems, and space-based movement scoring. This might also include site-specific work and work that engages with the landscape as participant (like the Love Art Laboratory)

2. The incorporation of the “human-other” as the body-self: this is where I might look more directly at “traditional” body-to-body choreographic practices, whereby seemingly discrete bodies become intermingled and blurred in their clarity through their choreographic participation with one another. Here I am most interested in the intimate exchange between bodies, an intimacy that is based on interdependency and intersubjective corporeal construction, the movement exchange demonstrating the porousness, permeability, and mutability of bodies/selves.

3. The incorporation of the more-than-human “other” as the body-self: This could be the biggest section because is includes practices like Butoh (that involves the incorporation of the landscape, the environment, and imagery derived from that which is “other”) and Karl Cronin’s Somatic Natural History Archive, but also movement/dance/performance methodologies that incorporate artifacts/objects, such as the use of written scores, moving with props/objects (here I would love to look more at “object theater” as a practice), among other practices.

When I write things like this out, I begin to see where I need to focus my attention:

1. Fleshing out my foundation in phenomenology (yes, that means finishing Phenomenology of Perception)

2. Tackling “relationality”

3. Taking some time with continuum psychology and ecological ecology

4. Spend more time with Bataille

5. Go back to Laban’s early writings

6. Choreograph more (as research)

7. Write about Butoh; write about Karl Cronin

The bigness of the body
27 August, 2010, 1:26 pm
Filed under: cosmology, creative process, Dance, Grad School, research | Tags: ,

If I’m honest, I feel like I’m in state of some degree of burnout right now. I know I’ll recover, but I just feel unable to read another thing (even as I read an article by Sondra Fraleigh on the correlation between Butoh and nature this morning), and my mind is hardly synthesizing all that I have read/done/researched this summer. I have ideas about dances that I want to make, but in general I am experiencing a persistent near-paralysis in my making. This morning in conversation with my friend/colleague/gaga-guru Maree ReMalia, I think I began to understand why:

This all started (by “this all” I mean to refer to this research journey into Sexecology, Ecosexuality, ecologies, etc. etc. etc.) in the pursuit of a body that extends beyond the constraints of [the assumedly fixed] biological morphology, a body that accounts for its ongoing state of becoming/constructedness/de-and-re-constructedness, a body that not only participates with its environmental surroundings, but blurs its edges into that space, the body being implicit in consciousness and perception and sensation. My earliest articulations of my (then MFA project)n involved “the listening body,” the body constituted in its attention, and its reciprocal participation with that which exists beyond it. When I applied for my PhD, my proposed research interest had to do with understanding the body as the site of identity, and analyzing/understanding dance practices with with a sense of the active formulation of individual identity in our participation in the formation of dancing bodies: dance as a choreography of identity. Since that point, my working understanding of identity has become less fixed: identity is not a stable essence but an ongoing construction, multiple and fluid and unfixed; I would say the same for “the body.” Through my engagement with the work of the Love Art Laboratory and their art/research in the areas of Sexecology and Ecosexuality, I began to consider the functional systems of interdependency as a primary situation by/in/through which we experience (phenomenally) our selves/bodies. This was powerfully echoed in my research in Tantric philosophy and its function as a foundation for the practice of yoga, a dissolving of the distinction of subject and object into a larger whole that is Consciousness (necessarily a body-based consciousness). In my course work, the constructed nature of the body/individual self became implicated in issues of power, production, reproduction, and the compulsive reiteration of normalized identities. The body is not singular but citational. The body is not only physical but also social, cultural, sexual, economic, etc. etc. etc. The body is “both/and”: it is completely itself, non-representational, meaningful is its own kinesthetic experience; and the body is a [part of?] systems that extend infinitely from it, into history, society, culture, the environment, etc. Its form presents its formulation, a formulation that is constant and ongoing and bigger-and-beyond its biological morphological form.
In short, the body is no longer simple. And it is big.

My choreography has always functioned as a kind of physical philosophy. The dances that I have made have more often then not been principally concerned with cultivating a physical experience/understanding of a facet of human experience. But at the same time, they were also crafted of moving bodies in time and space. I know how to choreograph for those bodies: finite, structural, sensing/knowing. But I think at least a portion of my creative paralysis is that I have not yet figured out how to choreograph for these bodies that are indicative of such bigness, that are always already implicated in such a complex nexus of interesting constitutional forces, that are implicit in the expanse of consciousness, functioning in systems and ecologies far beyond my knowledge/comprehension, constantly changing and (re)forming even as I participate in that formation, who experience and know themselves as sensual and sexual, erotic and desiring; to the degree that we are defined (within our own experiences of ourselves, and within the societies in which we function; and understanding definition as unfixed/shifting/potentially fluid) by our desires, the task of making dances for desiring/desirous bodies is daunting. To the degree to which bodies function as sites of the production of power, I don’t yet know how to situate myself in a choreographic relationship of shaping bodies (through the movement which I offer or generate) and assuming that power.

It all converges in this tension of the “bigness,” the [post-modern?] condition of disparity and unity, the individual and the larger “whole”/”organism” of which the “individual” is always already a part . . . this is a tension that is held in yogic philosophy, in astrology (the life of the individual is unique, but it is also an expression of a larger cosmological whole), in ecology, and even in the corps de ballet. Obviously this tension is not a concise research agenda, but it has something to do with where I want to be/am going. And it has to do with Butoh, and yoga maybe, and the Love Art Lab and Karl Cronin, Sexecology/Ecosexuality, queer theory and queer ecologies, queering dance practices, the erotic, phenomenology, etc.

And right now that’s as much as I’ve got. And I’m feeling a little too burned out to do much with any of it today. I know I’ll find the energy/inspiration for this work . . . just maybe not today.

Dissertation musings: sexecology, somatic natural history archive, laban, butoh . . .

Here I am at the end of another quarter. I am about to embark on a summer of reading and writing for my second comprehensive exam. I hardly feel like writing at all right now . . . yesterday I turned in a real labor (full of great love), my first bit of writing on Sexecology and Eco-Sexuality in the work of the Love Art Laboratory. For this paper, I grounded my theorizations in the text from Green Wedding Four. The support for my theorizations came primarily out of the writings of David Abram, Judith Butler, Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, Greta Gaard, William Cronon, Anne Carson, Chaia Heller, some Karen Warren, and a smattering of other writers in ecofeminism and ecology. It is not a refined paper, not yet, but it excites me to no end to have finally written some of the implications/situation of this work that means so much to me.

Perhaps the most relevant summaries come at the end of the paper:

“The formulation of an Eco-Sexual identity is a practice of an erotic eco-logic, deconstructing heteronormative constructions of gender, sex, sexuality, and nature in order to continually queer and destabilize identities, actively form and retain spaces of lack that necessitate interdependency, and engage a permeable sensuous self in perpetual sensorial reciprocity with the sensing and sensible more-than-human environment. It is an identity identified by desire rather than a stable essence or being, and it is a desire for the more-than-human environment in which the human subject is sensorially implicit.

“Similar to the queer ecofeminist and queer ecological project, Sexecology looks to this Eco-Sexual identity for fundamental qualities of its organization. It is a functional system of interdependency that discovers its functionality through this erotic eco-logic and its destabilized, permeable, and necessarily interdependent participants. Green Wedding Four functioned as both a performative enactment of this Eco-Sexual identity, reified in the queer lesbian wedding between Sprinkle, Stephens, and the Earth, and as a demonstration of this Sexecology, predicated on collaborative construction and a necessary interdependence between its seemingly disparate human and more-than-human participants.”

This summer I am going to be reading more queer theorists (more Butler, Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Eve Sedgwick) and some phenomenology (namely Merleau-Ponty) in order for this research to find grounding and situation in those fields of inquiry. I have submitted an abstract of this research to two different conferences in the fall; we’ll see if those pan out.

And I finally feel as if some ideas are coalescing that may be a direction for a dissertation. It will definitely grow, transform, evaporate, condense, explode, and be re-built many, many times in the months to come, but I feel the need to sketch out some ideas/sources/etc.

I have spent the afternoon falling in love with the work of Karl Cronin. My dear friend CoCo has referenced this work to me several times, and today I finally found time to peruse it. This is Kronin’s description of the project:

“My name is Karl Cronin and I’m the creator of the Somatic Natural History Archive.

I am using movement sketches to document the life histories of 10,000 plants and animals. This work is similar to John James Audubon’s drawings of birds, only I’m using expressive movement.

Now, you may be wondering “what does dance have to do with ecology”?

The short answer is, at its core, dance involves researching and expressing our experiences. Ecology includes creating descriptions of how organisms interact with their ecosystems.

By placing my whole self as a sort of recording device in a given environment, I can use all my faculties to document how a species is interacting with its environment. What I see. What I hear. What I smell. What it feels like to be there. I use all these faculties to explore the individual expressions of particular plants and animals.

I then share all this information in public presentations across the country – a mixture of story-telling, movement, and film.

Kickstarter donations will be used to cover my field expedition travel costs for 2010.

Fore more information, please visit my website – http://naturalhistory.us

I appreciate your support!

Your dancing ecologist,

Karl Cronin”

You can see a great promotional video for this project here.

What a turn-on. Kronin’s work in experiential geography and this project of the Somatic Natural History Archive seem to be a really lovely additional hub in my constantly evolving constellation of ideas surrounding dance, the body, ecology, sexecology, eco-sexuality, the unity of body-and-environment, phenomenology, the situational construction of identity, etc. I look forward to reading, seeing, funding, and maybe even writing more about this work.

I have also long been interested in examining both Rudolf von Laban’s early writings (and the consequential systems of Labanotation and LMA) and the early Butoh movement for their perspectives of the body and its relationship (unity with) environment.

I’m interested in how these perspective inform creative practice, how they come back into the studio as methodologies within creative practice and as methodologies for analyzing creative practices. I am also interested in how creative practices in dance might function as sites of useful knowledge to other (related) fields of inquiry: if we might consider choreography as the formulation of unique micro-cosmic and performative human ecologies, how might analyses of these “choreographic eco-systems” inform ecological analyses in the fields of biology and anthropology, etc.? If we accept that all scientific formulations are emergent of specific historical, cultural, and social situations, then how might choreography function as a source of intentional methods of observation, analysis, and taxonomy? How might perspectives coming from areas of study/practice like Laban’s work, Butoh, Cronin’s work in experiential geography and somatic archive, and Love Art Lab’s work in Sexecology offer useful perspectives/information to other fields, as well as their own fields?

Somewhere in here there is still strands of questioning the ways in which movement(dance) and choreographic practices contribute to the construction of individual and ecological identities, the difference between different methodologies for movement generation in these constructions (direct methods such as body-to-body demonstration and coaching, indirect methods such as improvisational scores and notation-based movement generation, etc.), and the ways in which dance/movement practices functionally disrupt/subvert socially regulated physical normativity and bodily decorum in both training and presentation. There’s a lot about exchange and reciprocity between body and environment (which is not separate from culture/society), the conflation of the two . . .

And then my ideas run out of words. Those are my scribblings for today. I’ll be fascinated to see how this pans out.

Trio A, Labanotation, dance as text, and the validity of phenomenological hermeneutics

I’ve been spinning in a sea of sources . . . and I really need to be writing the paper/presentation itself. I even have some sense of what it is going to be, how it will all shape up, but I feel stuck in the “information gathering” phase.

I’m writing a paper, you see. Another paper. I feel a little exhausted of writing mediocre papers every ten weeks. I think I have written a large paper every quarter that I’ve been in grad school. They are never completely what I want them to be, they never have the time to develop into what I aspire towards as far as quality writing, and I have yet had time to return to any of them because there is always yet another paper to write. I keep telling myself that one day I will have time to revisit some of that work, revise what feels worth revising, seek publication for that which continues to feel relevant. But for now I am forging ahead on yet another relatively mediocre paper. This one is orbiting Trio A: I am looking to consider the dance as text, dancing as a site for knowledge, and the “embodied scholarship” that the program I am in so adamantly advocates but seems to so rarely achieve. I don’t know whether I will achieve anything of consequence in this endeavor, but I felt as if I needed to start trying to make those connections: how can the dancing body by the site of research, the formation of knowledge, the “doing” of history and theory. Trio A became a kind of “case study” for this hazy methodology. More specifically, my process has involved reading/dancing Trio A, choreographed by Yvonne Rainer in 1966, as notated by Melanie Clark and Joukje Kolff in 2003. To be clear, I have learned this dance from Labanotation score. The piece was notated as it was taught by Rainer at the London International Summer School. Already the process has become more complicated. Where/what is “the dance” (the text)? Is it Trio A as choreographed and performed by Rainer in 1966, or as it was taught and notated in 2003? Or is my Trio A, the dance that is formulated in/as my dancing body, as initiated by this score, the site of investigation? Certainly it seems that my terrain is the spaces in between these various related sites, yet my interest is not in a comparative analysis (although it may come to that). My interest in the dance as text becomes further complicated by post-structuralist perspectives that deconstruct the role of “author,” and situate the meaning of the work not in its writing but in its reading, in reading-as-writing, reception as authorship. The shift of these theories/philosophies into the dancing body, my dancing body, makes my research site even more elusive. My (literal) reading of the dance also becomes my demonstration of it, my formation (re-formation? the relationship is not entirely clear) of the dance as it is danced by/as me.

After reading (most of) the dance from score (I am still a few pages away from the ending . . . which I hate; I want to read/know the dance in its entirety, but because of the deadline of the presentation, I feel myself giving in to yet another aspect of mediocrity in this project. The reality, however, is that I don’t technically need to read the entire dance in order to formulate perspectives on the topics about which I’m writing, and the reading of other sources in which to situate my assertions became necessary in the process) I have begun to situate my understanding of this/my experience in additional literature, spanning phenomenology, phenomenological hermeneutics, issues surrounding notation, reconstruction, staging dance works from score, choreological studies, history as a creative/embodied practice (Susan Foster), intertextuality in dance interpretation, essays by Yvonne Rainer, Sally Banes, Pat Catterson, etc. Here is where I continue to find myself, gathering more and more resources in which to situate my own experience, composing a field of texts in which to allow an intertextual understanding to emerge. It may sound compulsive, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I keep making trips to the library, I keep finding new sources, I keep going down to the Dance Notation Bureau Extension Office to survey more theses on issues in notation. I am so keenly aware of borders of my knowledge, where my understanding of these issues stops. I feel a voracious appetite for needing to have more at my fingertips from which to craft this paper. And yet time is running out.

Things I feel like I know I can say:
I think that the reading of Trio A from score can potentially serve as a stylistic training for the dance itself, this particular dance. I am interested in asserting that the way that the movement comes off of the page for me, without bringing anything else to it in the performative/dancerly sense, one is operating in the “style” of Trio A. There is a doing-ness to the dance, the long sequence of actions as a series of tasks, without pause, one giving way to the next, without variation in dynamics or phrasing. It is my experience that in embodying the dance as precisely as possible from the way in which it is written, this in the way of moving that the writing produces. Unlike other dances in which the reader/performer is expected to add to what is offered on the page, flesh it out (what an appropriate idiom) with expression and style and energy. Trio A asks for none of this. The score serves as a sequence of instructions for tasks, and that is the expectation for the dance.

I feel as if there is an education as to the nature of being in its embodiment, something about a pervasive, connective quality that is suffuse throughout . . . in the dance it is the almost meditative quality of the movement, the dynamic without variation, and the manner in which that way quality permeates and relates the 31-page sequence of unrepeated actions. Each moment is distinct, discrete, markedly unrelated to every other action in the dance; that was part of Rainer’s intention. And yet this suffuse, pervasive quality makes connections, addresses an underlying consistency through the body, through time, and space. I also feel as if it offers an education in the egalitarian nature of the body, no part more important than the other, and a similar commentary/perspective of three-dimensional space, no part receiving more attention than another. There is an awareness of “front,” but no addressing of front (in fact, a specific avoidance of addressing “front,” democratizing the space from its previously established theatrical hierarchy).

And that’s what I have. I need to plough through a few more sources, then begin to hammer out this paper. I need to dance the piece again and again and give more attention to how I construct its meaning from the various texts between which I have now situated it. This will be my Sunday afternoon. And likely most of the week to come. I just needed to address this project in a different space.

This week is the last time we will do “Autumn  Quartet.” Very complicated feelings surrounding that. The most prominent are a deep sadness and a kind of relief. But I don’t really have time to unpack that right now. Back to work.

27 February, 2010, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Grad School | Tags: , , , , ,

For next weeks class meeting of “History and Theory of Postmodern/Contemporary Dance,” on a day specifically looking at the postmodern turn in visual culture and representation, coming out of a week looking at gender theories in dance, we have been asked to bring in four images of (dancing) bodies:
1. Normatized/Reified
2. Transgressive
3. Beautiful
4. Interesting

These are my selections as of now:

"Normatized/Reified Bodies" (taken from Pina Bausch)

"Transgressive" (from Catherine Opie's "Pervert")

"Beautiful" (Ko Murobushi)

"Interesting" (Jiz Lee)

I am least comfortable with the last category. “Interesting” risks a connotation of objectification, that this person is simply of interest to me. To be clear, I find Jiz Lee sexy, beautiful, and transgressive in the extreme (all in positive ways), but it is this image in particular, the challenge to resolve the apparent disparity between the exposed breast and the humongous cock, the provocation of the direct gaze, etc.

My mind is swimming amidst readings about intertextuality, choreology, phenomenology, Rudolf von Laban, Choreutics, performativity, Trio A and Yvonne Rainer, etc. Selecting these images offered a necessary reprieve from the reading and writing.