michael j. morris

hold sway


they see one another
and they continue to see one another
even when their eyes are looking

toes seek the floor
like eyes opening out onto
hardwood vistas
and this is how each one’s mass
collapses into and pushes off of
the other’s

the excess of each exchange
is always retained
it goes somewhere
propels them into whatever comes next
with the meager force that is the
of weight and thrust and caress and push and pull

I see them seeing one another even when their eyes are looking elsewhere
seeing turns into feeling
as if it could have always been feeling all along
if only we could just get past all that distance.

this will not be a very refined piece of writing.
I’m recovering from a cold, I’m behind on grading papers…I’m behind on a lot of things.
this will be more like a response, a gesture following the gestures of HOLD SWAY, the duet choreographed and performed by Noelle Chun and Leigh Lotocki this evening at Till Dynamic Fare in Columbus, OH. there are two more performances, Saturday, November 3 at 7PM and 9PM (Neo V Gallery inside Till Dynamic Fare, 247 King Avenue).

this initial doodle of a poem (above) was how I dealt with the opening of the piece, a duet that followed text, text that suggested—among other things—that there was the possibility that there were already many duets happening, and that this duet would continue even after the performance was over. this duet is simultaneously so strong and so sensitive. both Chun and Lotocki demonstrate a such a heightened sense of where their bodies are in space, each joint and surface and ounce, how it shifts on and around its supports, and how it gives way to find support beyond itself, in the body of the other. their bodies yield forcefully—and sometimes not so forcefully—into one another, around one another, bounding and rebounding, springing into and out of one another and the floor as if all these elements were somehow caught in the gentle tug of one another’s gravity. I can’t stop watching their eyes. when they are looking at one another, they are seeing one another. there is nothing presentational about this seeing; it is not as if they are demonstrating to the audience, “we are seeing one another.” they are simply seeing. but what is exhilarating to witness is the way in which their bodies find one another, the ways their surfaces and weight meet, even when they are no longer looking at one another. even after doubtless countless rehearsals, there is a seeking out of one another as they move, a push and a fling and a soft throw out into space knowing [trusting] that they will meet one another in the air. as they make contact—shin to hip, palm to back of neck, waist thrown into arm, leg pushed into chest—I can watch as each one’s weight becomes their weight, however briefly, and together they redistribute that weight back into each body, back out into the space, down into the floor, only to follow that momentum, the remainder of their encounter, into another drop, another push, another fall or fling or spring. together, they are more, and that more carries over into their separateness, only to draw them back again into one another, together.

in the second section part of the piece, entitled “duet #2: too much too little”—with live music provided by Andrew Graham and Sharon Udoh (Counterfeit Madison)—Chun and Lotocki dance behind a screen that is about the height of their shoulder lines. a light from behind projects their dancing shadows onto the screen. tiny little tops of bodies drifting above big shadow-bodies. the distortion of the scale, the slice of the screen that bifurcates their bodies, the blending of the shadows into one another, and those precious moments in which their top halves get away from their bottom halves, and we are left with four halves, seeming to dance independently of one another: in the encounter between dancing bodies and backlight and screen and space and viewer, we all become somehow more. what I am seeing is not simply what they are dancing. the dancing meets the light, and that meeting encounters the screen, and that encounter meets the space, across which it comes into contact with me, my eyes. they said from the beginning that there was the possibility that there were already many duets going on, and in this “duet #2,” I glimpse some of the many ways in which we and our world partner one another, each of us becoming more in and through the encounter. material intra-activities, intersubjective realities, each of us—and I do not only mean the people—become apparatuses through which we are all extended and reinvented, in ways both small and big. these are the manifold duets, and certainly they continue far beyond the performance.

hold close.
pull in tight.
look at me and see me
and see me as if
you can feel me
and feel me
even when you aren’t looking at me
and see how much more we can be
when we meet across
all that distance.