michael j. morris

performance journal: sketches of shame/aversion
21 January, 2011, 12:45 pm
Filed under: creative process | Tags: ,

Last night was a shift in our process. These shifts were inevitable. It’s interesting: I sit down to contemplate and reflect the “performance” of the process of rehearsing/developing this new version of “Sketches of Shame,” and in the writing I find myself instead acutely aware of my navigation of other performances. How does the writing perform confidence/confidentiality? How does it perform insight? Could it perform betrayal? How does it maintain the mystique of the creative process (which is really my “mission” for this blog: to de-mystify [for a public] what it means for me to operate in a field of dance, making dances, theorizing dance, viewing dance, etc.); in what ways might my withholding reinscribe/reinforce that legacy of the artist’s mystique? How might revealing everything detract from the intimacy of the process? It is interesting to become aware of my performance here before a computer screen, my performance in front of a virtual audience/readership.

I don’t want to reveal everything. The piece will find its way to becoming a public display, or it won’t, and there are aspects of the work that I think can only be revealed in their performance. At least that’s my choice at the moment.

But more generally, last night we came up against a border (one that was not entirely unforeseen). This piece has a heavily demonstrative sexual component. It asks both of us to go to places (in our performance work) where we have never gone before, and to go places (in our personal relationship) that are equally unfamiliar. Last night my collaborator came in with a fresh experience of aversion towards performing the materials. The reasons for the aversion are still unclear. Is it in fact a kind of shame-response (which is a big question in the materiality of the piece)? Is it fear? Is it personal, or is it social, or can those distinctions even be made (I think not)? This aversion may be something that we explore; it may come into the piece. Last night we spent a lot of time talking. And we practices a score I wrote years ago entitled KNOW(TOUCH)ME(YOU)(MY/YOUR BODY) (which can be found along the left-hand side of the blog). It’s a way I developed for practicing a privileging of the body as the site of [encountering] identity. And it is an efficient and systematic way of becoming intimate with someone else’s body in a very safe and controlled way. I won’t described the score as it is written out elsewhere, but I will say that I experience something profound in its practice. We spent a sizable amount of time touching one another, eyes closed, and during that time, I began to lose track of myself. I felt my attention and consciousness pulsing between myself and the sensation of touch, the simultaneous familiarity and unfamiliarity of the body I was encountering, and with the duration, I got a bit lost, a bit . . . ecstatic in the sensation. The “other” became so close that when we finally opened our eyes, I felt a jolt almost as if I had been shoved backwards. The gap/space/distance/difference between us became so quickly pronounced, so immediate and in stark contrast to the time we had spent just touching/feeling . . . it brought up a lot about the loss of the discontinuous self, the disruption of the individual; I can’t say that the performance of the score was a “merging,” that “two became one,” but there was a blurriness, a loss of clarity of the edges. The edges were less pronounced, less important, and the state that I reached was a state in which “I” had lost some definition.

My time right now is limited, so other aspects of my performance that linger with me today:
control and acquiescence
contemplation and negotiation