michael j. morris


Autumn Quartet: Bite images, etc.

These were taken last week after our rehearsal. I wasn’t certain whether I would post them, but as I read back through the various posts describing this process, it feels very removed from the bodies themselves. Something about these images brings the process back to a very physical place. I think of them as art integrating with life. Lingering bite mark after rehearsal.

I have also been working on integrating various text into what we’ve been working with as our soundscape. First were the previously shared quotes from Tommy Midas in Madison Young‘s “Fluid: Men Redefining Sexuality.” Now I have made connections to quotes by Jiz Lee in another of Madison Young’s docu-porns, “Thin Line Between Art and Sex.” I’ll transcribe those below:

“I think that there are a lot of similarities between art and sex, particularly with dance.”

[referencing Contact Improvisation]: “It’s about inter-relating with another person, or more than one person, in such a way that it’s improvisational, you’re taking cues from them and what they’re doing, and what they’re going to do next. You know, anticipating what they might do next, or what they might want next. There’s also a level of, like, a follower and a leader sometimes, so sometimes there’ll be, like, someone kind of, like, following, and the other person takes cues off of that, or visa versa, and they switch at any moment . . . I feel like it relates to sex because you can start off in one way and then decide, oh, actually, I’ll let you lead for a second, and I’ll take that cue.”

“It was called the Undress Project, and so I was dancing naked on stage, and it wasn’t sexualized, and actually they found out that wearing a little bit amount of clothing, like even rehearsing in bras and underwear, was more tantalizing and titillating than just being completely naked. And there was a real beauty and zen-like quality to performing completely bare and being exposed, and seeing that our bodies were this kind of functioning machine, where they eat and piss and shit and eat again, and they age and they sag and they live and die . . .”

“I found myself being kind of upset being on stage and being naked and people seeing, like, ‘Oh, that’s a woman,’ and you know, like, the size of my hips and you can see my boobs and to be . . . by a lot of reviewers being, like, ‘She this, and she that,’ and actually I identify as gender queer, so . . . and I had been packing, binding, and identifying as trans for a while, so it was an interesting transition to be okay with my body and be okay with what other people thought about my body.”

“So I got very comfortable with myself naked, moving naked, being seen by others and however they wanted to see me.”

I have also been considering the format in which this piece might be seen by outside observers. I have been questioning the necessity of having any sort of formal or informal performance/presentation since the start of the process, and I still have questions about the implications of presentation for this work. In so many ways, this piece really is about and for the four of us as a practice in which we engage, a dance intended more for the kinesthetic, spatial, and interpersonal experience of being inside of it rather than the visual experience of seeing the piece. And yet there is a sense in which the piece might . . . want to be shared? So I have been considering the possibility of personal invitations, inviting specific individuals to witness our practice, week by week rather than any sort of epitomizing performance experience. I haven’t quite figured out the details or viability of this approach, but it does seem like a way to continue to maintain a sense of intimacy in the process, emphasizing the interpersonal rather than the spectacle. I think.

That is my creative update on the Autumn Quartet. There are so many other thing about which I feel compelled to write . . . how the this piece is beginning to feel implicated in the post-modern period through its inclusion of undressing (I’m thinking again of David Gordon’s Random Breakfast, and Anna Halprin’s Parades and Changes). Maybe that will be the paper I write for “The History and Theory of Postmodern/Contemporary Dance” this quarter. In any event, the work of reading and writing and teaching now requires my attention.

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Videos from 60×60

Finally I am posting video footage from the 3 October event 60×60 Dance held at Wall Street Night Club. Enjoy:

 



60×60 in Review

60×60 is now over. I hope you were able to make it. It was an amazing show full of diverse talent and good energy. I felt that both of my pieces were successful in executing their intentions. The first was an improvisation intending to utilize Forsythian Improvisational technologies to which I was introduced last year, as well as ways of moving that I associate with those technologies. It was one minute long and explored material both standing and on the floor.

The second was dual purposed and highly conceptual. It was an homage to “The Strip” section of David Gordon and Valda Setterfield’s Random Breakfast. It was also intended to deconstruct the relationship between the socially presentable body and the actual body (or corporeal morphology) of the individual. It was something of a temporal palindrome, starting upstage, walking directly downstage while undressing, then moving back upstage while re-dressing. All in one minute. A friend said to me afterwards that the piece could have gone on for much, much longer. I agree. I have a sense that I will re-stage the piece at some point. I am interested in how the fully clothed body that is viewed at the end of the piece is different from the fully clothed body at the beginning because of what has transpired in-between. It is always all about the in-between. The piece also commented a bit on gender and sexuality: I wore heels, women’s slacks, and a large black lambs wool coat. During the performance (the images below are from the dress rehearsal) I wore a t-shirt that says “Legalize Gay: repeal prop. 8 now!” It also had an oddly intimate feeling beyond just the exposed body; there was something about the action of undressing and re-dressing, the clumsiness, the un-sexy-ness.

CoCo Loupe graciously photographed the dress rehearsal. I share those photos now with you as documentation of the piece. Video footage may be posted in the next few weeks or so. Additional footage/images/commentary may appear at http://60×60.blogspot.com/ in the weeks to come so stay tuned there.

Also, I just received this by email today from the directors of 60×60:
“Mark your calendars now. We will be coming back to Columbus to
do this again during the first weekend in October, 2010. Tell your
friends and colleagues. Let’s make the next one bigger and better. More
details will come as things are confirmed…. stay tuned.” Very exciting.

Here are the images from the two pieces:
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forsythe_improv_004

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60×60 Dance

Coming 3 October, 60×60, an evening of new, original choreography to Wall Street Nightclub!

You can read a bit more about this event here.

For a longer post about this event by my friend and colleague CoCo Loupe, click here.

“Over 30 choreographers from around Ohio (including me!) have been commissioned to make an evening of 60 1-minute dances to 60 1-minute original music compositions . . .”

I am creating two new one-minute dances for this event, although I would be lying if I said that I knew exactly what I am going to do. The two track to which I am choreographing are extremely different. As of now, it looks as if the two pieces will be two solos, choreographed and performed by myself. I was hoping to create a duet for one of the tracks, but with the show so quickly approaching, I think time necessitates that I get into a studio with myself and figure out what these dances are going to be. These are my thoughts/ideas/questions thus far:

I’m thinking about nudity. Wall Street is an 18-an-older venue, and it’s unique that I perform in venues like that. I’m interested in what possibilities might be presented by the venue/audience restrictions. I have long been interested in deconstructing the disparity between the “social body” and the “actual body.” To be clear, by the “social body,” I mean something like the clothed body, the body as it is perceived through its social frames of clothing and make-up and hair product, etc., as opposed to the actual body that constitutes the individual. While there are absolutely socially constructed aspects to the body/individual itself (such as mannerism, posture, stance, gait, spatial organization, etc., all as ongoing performance of socially driven perceptions and expectations), those are aspects that are inseparable in each moment from the corporeal identity of the individual. It makes me think of something Judith Butler wrote in an article entitled “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution.” She wrote:

“Gender is in no way a stable identity or a locus of agency from which various acts proceed; rather, it is an identity tenuously constituted in time–an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts. Further, gender is instituted through the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gesture, movements, and enactments of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.”

Certainly their is social generated and driven content in the bodily identity, even at the naked level. And I am fascinated by this to no end. But what I am more interested in as potential source material for these pieces is the distinction between the regularly perceived social body (the body as we present it to one another on a daily basis), and the irregularly perceived actual body. Both have fabricated elements, but they are not the same. I am interested in how a one minute dance at an 18-and-older venue might potentially contribute to the deconstruction of the “illusion” of the former.

The question for me is immediately: how would this be different from stripping? how is it different from “nudity for nudity’s sake”? will this deconstructive process be successful in the span of one minute, or is our culture so at odds with nudity that it will simply be either shocking, or easily classified as something recognizable?

I’m thinking about runway shows using the body as a support for the display of clothing, and inverting that to make the clothing (or the removal of clothing) a support for the display of the body. Wall Street has a stage and go-go platforms, and countertops. I’m not sure how any of these might come into the work.

I’m thinking about the Judson Dance piece Random Breakfast, the first section called “The Strip,” performed by Valda Setterfield, choreographed by David Gordon. Sally Banes writes about it in Democracy’s Body:

“The first section, “The Strip,” was a dance for Setterfield. Dressed in a long blue velvet gown that belonged to Waring and had numerous small buttons down the front, long gloves with more buttons, a hat, pearls, and a fur stole, she performed a strip tease to “authentically brassy strip music.” Gordon says that, “She looked like Queen Mary taking her clothes off in public. She walked in a circle forever, taking one thing of at a time, all those buttons to open, the dress, the petticoat, a long-line brassiere, garter belt, stockings, bloomers, limping along in one high-heeled shoe, never breaking the rhythm of the circular walk. She was somehow extraordinarily genteel parading in that circle and dropping her clothing. She discarded all the clothing in a neat pile so that when she was done she could stoop down and gather it all up together in a huge bundle. The dowager empress had become a naked rag lady.””

I’m thinking about the difference between dressing and undressing, or undressing and then dressing. Both create a palindrome in time, but how might where you end up be different than where you began because of what has transpired? How is a clothed body different after undressing and redressing than it is before that process? 

I’m also thinking about the slow, sustained quality that my work can sometimes have, and how that might find unique expression in the course of one minute.

I’m thinking about Love Art Lab because I am always thinking about Love Art Lab.

I’m thinking about Clara’s solo from Sketches of Shame, because I just notated a part of it last week, and how that is still some of my favorite movement I’ve ever generated. I don’t know if those gestures/ideas will come into this work or not.

I know SO MANY PEOPLE who are involved in this show. It should be a truly exciting event populated by great artists. I hope you can see it if you re in the area. From CoCo:

“Please SAVE THE DATE for this incredible event! Original contemporary dance and music works …..60 of each….all performed in 60-minutes……at Wall Street Nightclub…..Details below!

WHAT? 60×60 Ohio

DATE?
 Saturday, October 3, 2009

TIME? two shows: 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm

COST? $5 at the door

WHERE?
Wall Street Nightclub
144 N Wall St
Columbus, OH 43215-2800
(614) 464-2800

EXTRA STUFF? 18+ only (as per Wallstreet Nightclub) “