michael j. morris


Making Explicit

I think I am finally coming to a greater understanding of what the meaning or reason of this piece might be. I have been working for a few days on a new soundscore with which to experiment in our rehearsal this week. It is the basic mash-up that I have described before (Marie Antoinette soundtrack, ISAN, Lady Gaga, Aphex Twins) with new text and sound loops woven into it. The new text/sound is taken from two films by Madison Young, “Fluid: Men Redefining Sexuality” and “Thin Line Between Art and Sex.” I have transcribed the text in earlier posts, statements made by Tommy Midas and Jiz Lee. I have also lifted sound from the sex portions of these films, weaving sounds of fucking, sucking, moaning, groaning, slapping, sighing, orgasming, etc. into the soundscore. It’s pretty hot, a little kitschy, borders between overstimulation and potential humor. I recognize that. There is a sense of both poignancy and humor to hear Lady Gaga sing: “Russian roulette is not the same without a gun, and baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun,” while at the same time hearing a woman begging “choke me, please, choke me, please,” while someone else is moaning while getting slapped around. Several of my peers have asked why I’m creating this soundscore, and here in lies my new understanding: I think I am trying to make aspects of dance that exist implicitly in our practices explicit in this piece/practice. Often in the dance world, especially in Western theatrical dance and dance training, sexuality is significantly downplayed, as if to suggest that sex plays no part in what we are doing. I do not mean to imply that dance is all about sex, not at all. But dance is a physical practice, essentially embodied, and sexuality is persistently a part of our embodied existence. We may not be conscious of it, we may not even acknowledge it, but it is always present. I am interested in acknowledging this, bringing it from its implicit, unacknowledged place into the foreground, explicitly acknowledged as a dynamic in what it is we are doing. I don’t think that this piece/we as a cast/this academic institution are quite ready to literally have sex as part of a dance, especially in front of spectators (although I have to say that this intrigues me), so I am exploring other ways to make the sex/sexuality explicit. This soundscore is one strategy. I think the stripping and biting and rolling around on the floor in our underwear also foreground a space in which sexuality occurs. Similarly, I think the component of the biting is a strategy for making explicit the implicit violence of dance. Dancing is difficult, demanding, and often destructive to our bodies. There is an inherent masochism and sometimes sadism to much of dancing. By creating a dance in which masochism and sadism are made explicit in these “biting scenes,” mixing it up with intimacy, friendship, dancing, and the implication of sex, I am foregrounding aspects of what we do that generally go unacknowledged/unexplored.

I don’t think this is the only reason or meaning behind this work. I think equally as important are the themes of integrating art and life, shifting power dynamics, and agency/indeterminacy as I detailed in my previous post. I was discussing some of these ideas with a colleague of mine this afternoon, and she commented that maybe all of this, the dancing, the sex, the violence, Lady Gaga, maybe it’s all the same thing. Then she refined that statements: maybe it isn’t that it is all the same, but that it is all always a part, always at play. There is sex in dancing even if the dancing is not about sex. There is agency and indeterminacy and improvisation in sex, even if the sex is not about exploring these ideas. There is violence in dance practices, and in sex, and it is sometimes tangled up with intimacy, pleasure, fulfillment, excitement, etc. In a truly post-modern turn, this dance is perhaps less about isolating and examining each of these aspects of human existence and more about blurring the lines between them, layering them in all of there complexity and contradiction, just as they occur in life. Because the dance is our live, our lives are the dance, etc.

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The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Yesterday evening I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in a vigil for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers at Femina Potens Art Gallery in San Francisco. In addition to being present for the vigil itself, I was honored to be included in a press conference preceding the event on behalf of my blog. I came to San Francisco to experience and write about Love Art Laboratory‘s current exhibit “Sexecology: Making Love With The Earth, Sky + Sea” (currently on display at Femina Potens). Although this vigil was not an official event of the Love Art Lab, I timed my trip in order to be present for this important cause. I am pleased to be able to contribute to the “press” surrounding the event.

I have considered and reconsidered how I might want to document this event, while still pertaining to what I consider to be the mission or creative platform of this blog. What makes the most sense to me is to relay what I found striking, what will stay with me, what I found to be of importance. This relates mostly to ideas, perspectives, and theories surrounding culture, violence, and sex work(ers). Statements or ideas may not always be credited to specific speakers; that was not the way in which I was engaging with the event. I won’t be detailing the rich history of this event or its spread and international implications (more can be read about the history and founding of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers here). Instead, I will offer ideas, quotes, and paraphrases that emanated from the community in attendance, while recognizing that any community is constructed from a complexity of intersubjectivity, a collection of individuals, and that any one of these ideas that have stayed with me originated in a specific individual even as it became expressive within and of the community.

I will briefly offer context. The gallery is a beautiful space, currently filled to the brim with work by Elizabeth M. Stephens and Annie M. Sprinkle (Love Art Lab) addressing sexecology (or ecosexuality). Chairs were set up facing the back corner of the gallery where there had been erected a simple altar for victims of violence against sex workers. Signs with provocative statistics surrounding violence in this industry/community, red prayer candles in memorial to specific victims, red umbrellas that would fulfill a further function later in the evening, and a collection of flowers comprised the altar. In attendance (introduced at the press conference) were Annie Sprinkle and co-hostess of the evening Kimberlee Cline, Madison Young, executive director of Femina Potens, and Carol Queen, noted sexologist, co-founder of the Center for Sex and Culture.

The press conference gave us the opportunity to hear and discuss issues surrounding sex work, violence against sex workers, the implications of violence throughout our cultural infrastructure, the complexities of the community which is identified as “sex workers,” and the relationship between the the movement for sex workers rights and the LGBT rights movement.

from left: Madison Young, Annie Sprinkle, Kimberlee Cline, Robyn Few, and Carol Queen

The vigil itself took the form of an informal ritual. Carol Queen opened the ritual with a stunning invocation honoring the Goddess, Her sexual power, creative potential, and presence. This invocation was followed by the reading of names of sex workers who have been murdered in 2009, read by hostesses Kimberlee Cline and Madison Young. This was a list of women, men, transgendered, and unidentified bodies, of all ages, from around the globe. After reading and honoring those who have been lost, the ritual shifted to an open mic for anyone who wanted to share or express. Some told stories, some offered poems, others shared their personal histories in sex work. Annie Sprinkle closed the ritual with guided breathing experience, breathing in the love and connectivity and support of this community and taking that into ourselves to bring back into the world. Having this vigil opened and closed in such sacred yet open and inclusive “liturgies” added a specific tone to the event, alluding to a kind of community practice that spans bodies and spirit, that contains space for our differences and diversity rather than being formulated on a sacredness that abjects/rejects an other as “profane.” This was to me significant in understanding both the extent of violence in our culture and the(a) form of resistance to this violence. The next phase of the vigil was a “solidarity stroll” from Femina Potens to St. James Infirmary, which provides “compassionate and non-judgemental healthcare and social services for all sex workers while preventing occupational illnesses and injuries through a comprehensive continuum of services.” Those of us participating carried the signs, candles and umbrellas that previously adorned the altar in the gallery. It had a sacred feel as we became the bearers of these implements, a mobile “altar” of human beings. It was also a time for community, people talking with one another, hearing one another’s stories, making connections with people who had previously been strangers. This was the conclusion to the vigil.

on the Solidarity Stroll

Emerging from this structure and community were so many profoundly relevant ideas and perspectives surrounding sex work and the culture in which it operates. To begin, there is the breadth of what sex work includes, and the complexity that such diversity entails. “Sex work,” as discussed throughout the evening, signifies professions including street prostitution, indoor prostitution and escort services, work in the porn industry, strippers, exotic dancing, erotic massage, etc. It includes professions in which sex, whatever its form, is, at least in part, that for which one is being paid. This diversity presents its own difficulties. During the press conference, Madison Young and Carol Queen discussed the tensions and divisions that can exist between these professional subsets held tenuously together under the umbrella of “sex work,” making a unified and cohesive politically activist community even more difficult. Rather than recognizing the similarities and affinities that may unite these professionals as the foundation of a coalitional political identity, emphasis is lost on distinctions. As Queen put it, the strippers can always say, “Well, at least I don’t fuck them.” I describe these infrastructural tensions and divisions because conceptually I think they are expressive of one of the fundamental issues surrounding violence, both against sex workers and within our culture at large.

Similar to the expansive nature of the designation “sex work,” another function of the evening was exposing the expansive and pervasive nature of what constitutes “violence.” This was a profound realization for me, considering that which serves as the foundation for violence as implicit in the violence itself. Addressed were the perhaps obvious forms of violence: murder, rape, assault, abuse, battery, physical and emotional trauma. But also addressed were what might be seen as the more subtle aspects of violence: porn companies that prohibit the use of condoms, the lack of sexual education for those entering the sex work industry, the lack of compassionate medical and psychological care for sex workers, without judgement or assumption, the defamation of character suffered by those in sex work, the laws in this country the prohibit sex work, making reporting violence effectively impossible (this double-bind of the illegality of sex work is perhaps one of the most profound contributing factors to violence against these individuals, discussed further below). One speaker specifically addressed the “violence of shame, the violence of having to hide.” This was striking to me. Shame has been a recurring subject in my creative work for some time. For my purposes, shame is an interpersonal experience in which one’s experience of oneself is compromised or contaminated by one’s perception of the Other’s perception. A culture of shame is familiar territory within the LGBT community (one of many similarities between these two sometimes overlapping communities), but what was a substantial shift for me was the recognition that the society or culture that propagates shame might be considered a culture of violence. The foundation of shame is judgement, or at the very least the perception of judgment. Put simply, that it is not okay to be who you are, either in whole or in part. A culture of shame emerges when the social assumption is that in difference and diversity there are correct and incorrect ways of being. A culture of shame emerges when diversity and difference are not celebrated, when their distinctions are used to separate and divide rather than unite. This makes me think of a presentation that Norah Zuniga Shaw gave concerning “Synchronous Object for One Flat Thing, reproduced” in which she emphasized counterpoint as a system of recognizing diversity and difference as the superficial organizational structure, supported by a deeper unity of purpose and intention. She presented this not only as a potential way for looking at dance, but also for considering society, culture, and community. My thought is that a society which looks for sameness and uniformity, in which diversity is potentially unacceptable, which proliferates shame surrounding difference, is a society in which violence is implicit.

I question that occurs to me is “To what degree do we celebrate difference? How ‘different’ is still acceptable?” I think the answer is perhaps simple: to the degree that the difference itself does not produce violence.

One of the commonalities or deeper unifying organizational structures within the “sex worker” community that was discussed was the “sex-positive” movement. It is perhaps here, from perspectives of sex and sexuality, that this culture of shame and violence emerges. “Sex-positive” is a loosely defined term, but what it hopes to promote is the perspective that sexual expression is good and healthy, an essential aspect of our humanity and being. It is in response to cultures that cloak sexuality in secrecy, shame, restriction, repression and suppression [there is certainly space here for an intertexutal discourse involving Michel Foucault’s rejection/genealogical reformulation of the “repression mythology” surrounding contemporary sexuality, responses to Foucault’s work by authors such as Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (among others), and the vast literary history of “sex-positivity” emerging from the feminist “sex wars” of the 1980s (including such texts as Pleasure and Danger: exploring female sexuality edited by Carole S. Vance from the papers presented at the 1982 conference “Towards a Politics of Sexuality” held at Barnard College. This discourse is, of course, beyond the scope of this reflection on a specific event, but it is worth acknowledging that these issues are complex; they have not only been discussed by many great thinkers, but there is still space for yet more discussion and discourse.] I dare say that while there has certainly been progress, American society and culture continues to be less than “sex positive.” Sex is addressed in the public and political arenas as a moral issue, a religious issue even. Once sex is considered in these terms, diversity and difference are less likely to be celebrated. These are the arenas in which homosexuals are considered deviants, whores are considered criminals, in which sex carries a narrow definition and in which expressions of sex and sexuality that extend beyond this narrow definition are deemed inappropriate. They become targets of condemnation, shame, and thus violence. I believe that this is the predominant, mainstream culture within our country, a site of struggle for any individual or community that exists outside of the mainstream, or predominantly accepted, definition of sex and sexuality.
This was not the culture represented at last nights vigil.
Sex work was discussed as an expression of giftings, “undervalued gifts of robust sexuality,” overwhelming compassion and generosity, a deep capacity for creativity, healing, and love. Sex workers were described as heroes, super-heroes, priestesses of the Goddess, who make their living opening themselves, completely, becoming vulnerable and sharing love and energy through what they do. These giftings, this openness, this generosity and sharing is part of what makes this community susceptible to violence.

With this honoring of sexual difference, sex as positive, and diverse sexual expression came an emphasis (or re-emphasis) of the source and site of violence, not in these professions themselves, but in the conditions of these professions that are produced by our culture of shame and violence. For instance, because prostitution is illegal, prostitutes become susceptible targets to violence; the violence cannot be reported without the targets themselves becoming implicated in the crime. Medical care is compromised due to cultural mindsets that there is shame or indecency in these professions. Stigma is attached to the persons of these professionals, potentially compromising their social standing and personal relationships. Because the difference and diversity that this community represents is not celebrated, the conditions this community faces become compromised and compromising. The violence emerges not from these individuals, not from what they are doing, but from the society and perspectives in which they are operating. And, no, it isn’t as simple as changing the laws, although this would/will be a profound shift in our culture. Amsterdam and New Zealand both have regulation for legalized prostitution, and violence still persists in these countries. The shift must be deeper, a shift of perception, and a value for the diversity of sexuality, sexual activity, sexual identity, and sexual expression.

One speaker made a statement that I found to be a striking summation of this plight: “Human rights are human rights; they don’t stop at sex work.” This could be said about so many communities and individuals that face violence based on actual or perceived difference. Human rights do not stop at our differences. They are pervasive. The right to own, honor and express one’s own person, one’s own body. The right to happiness. The right to love and have that love recognized. The right to explore and express the uniqueness of individual identity without fear or shame. Too often difference and diversity are denounced as destructive; this is fear, and eventually hate. Those who are perceived as different or deviating from the regulatory norms of culture are dehumanized, deemed less than human, by effectively denying them these fundamental human rights based on their differences. What I suppose I am proposing or supporting is a shift of consciousness as the “end to violence,” recognizing diversity and difference, and celebrating them as not only essential to the fabric of culture, but as a fundamental human right.

The vigil last night was both solemn and celebratory. Solemn in memory of those who have suffered the effects of violence in our culture, and angry at a society that, if not condones, does nothing to prevent such violence. Celebratory of difference and diversity, because it is in this celebration, in this shift to recognizing a deeper pervasive unity in the uniqueness of human and sexual expression, that the potential to end violence resides.



Autumn Quartet: The Dance/Our Lives

We ran the piece twice Thursday night. It came in almost exactly 20 minutes both times. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but it works for me. To briefly describe what the choreography is as of now:

-a collection of set movement material (two long phrases, and several tasks)
-an algorithmic improvisational score that determines the structure of the piece (I may share the score here at some point . . . right now that feels like too much information)
-a set way of beginning and ending, and a momentum that carries through the enactment of the score. The decisions are different every time we do it, but it facilitates the accomplishment of certain things: we all get undressed. we all get redressed. in between, we dance phrases, make angry gestures, strip for one another, bite one another, roll around a bit, etc.
-there is a sound score at the moment, a mashup I did from a playlist that we’ve been using in rehearsal:
“Intro Versailles” by Reitzell/Beggs from the Marie Antoinette soundtrack
“Caddis” by ISAN from “Lucky Cat”
“Poker Face (Space Cowboy Remix)” by Lady Gaga from “Poker Face (remixes)”
“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga (single)
“Gwely Mernans” by Aphex Twins from Drukqs
then back to “Intro Versailles” by Reitzell/Beggs from the Marie Antoinette soundtrack

I think I am finally beginning to understand what it is that we’re doing. It just took talking to CoCo for a little bit. She helped me connect several “dots” that have littered my creative landscape for quite some time: the violent action and the integration of life and dance. These are very new ideas, but I’ll try to get them down somehow.

For years now I have had a mounting interest in violent actions of the body, for lots of reasons: their irreversibility, their potency for kinesthetic empathy, the fact that they cannot be faked, not really. And, on some level that I perhaps have not admitted before, because they leave a mark. A kind of testimony to the fact that the action was real, a real, visible, tangible effect on the body, a mark of how it is retained. This may have found a ready expression in my Lady Gaga “I Like It Rough” solo in CoCo’s “click here for slideshow or 6-8 character limit,” (early version of that solo can be seen here), the bruises finally fading over a week later. I’ve had lots of questions over the years about “why the violence?” Talking to CoCo last night about the new piece I am making, I think I finally have a bit more of an answer.

In thinking about the integration of life and dance, I have for years been concerned about the fact that dance is an art that lives in the body, the individual person. I’ve always had a discomfort surrounding the “theatrical” aspects that come into dance, the characterization element, the idea that what we do in the dance is somehow separate from who we are as real people. I think that was part of what first attracted me to Butoh, the emphasis on the cultivation of an inner experience that then emerges as the dance. It isn’t something that is put on, nor can it be taken off. In the more theatrical heritages of dance (I’m thinking a bit of story ballets, etc., but maybe even into more contemporary dance theater), the character is something that is put on, it is pretend, an impersonation. I think there is a place for dance of that nature . . . but it is becoming further and further removed from my experience/interest in dance. I think what interests me is the actuality of the action in the body, actions taken by realm people with realm ramifications in the body (and thus, perhaps, who they are). This is part of what I’m interested in researching for my dissertation (if I am accepted to the Ph.D. program to which I’ve applied), the ramifications of the choreographic process for the construction of individual personal identity through the body. At the heart of this is not only the assertion that the body is the site of identity, but also that dance action is an actual occurrence within the body. We are actually doing what we are doing/dancing. And that action is thus part of our “real” lives, who we really are, our identity. Even if a dancer is “playing a character” or putting on a role for a dance, the actions taken in that part are still real, they emerge from and have an effect on the body/the individual. I think this is the fundamental awareness that has provoked my passion for figuring out the integration of life and dance, the fact that the two are not two, they are one, dance and life all comprising experience that is lived in the body. The conceptualization of the two as somehow separate is something reinforced (maybe) by “dance as profession” versus “personal life.” Or maybe it comes from the theatrical heritage, that dance is something like theater in which fiction is enacted. But while fiction may be enacted, the way in which it is executed in the body is not fiction, it is real action taken in the actual body/person with real ramifications (this can be said for theater as well).

So how does this relate to the violent action, or this new piece I am making?

The violent action may have been an entry point into the speculation for me. The action that overtly, audaciously, has real effect on the body, irreversible, unable to be faked, emphasizing the “realness” of the dance. I still have a lot of interest in this, but now this has expanded a bit; I’m finding other ways to explore the dance as reality in the body, thus reality in the lives of the dancers. In this piece, we dance phrase material. It has its effect on our lived and living bodies, the way each of us move. The more familiar it becomes, the more that way of moving is integrated into our bodies, the more it changes the way we move “naturally” (loaded word, I know; what I mean is something like the ways of moving that occur easily, consciously and subconsciously, in the body), thus potentially changing aspects of who we are. There is floor work, some that borders on violent, and it leaves marks on and in our bodies. We undress, and it is our actual bodies being uncovered; it isn’t faked. We bite one another, and it is really our teeth pressing into flesh, our real flesh in one another’s mouths, in between one another’s teeth. We take off our clothes and we put on one another’s (real) clothes. These are all ways I think of this dance privileging/emphasizing the fact that it is not separate from our lives, from who we are, from the actual lived experience of our bodies, and the community of our bodies.

But it isn’t only the dance extending into (real) life, but life extending into the dance via the choreographic structure. There are discrete components of prescribed movement material, and a multiple page algorithmic improvisational score for the dance, but the choices are made by us in relation to one another. Those relationships are not (cannot?) be separate from the (personal) relationships that we have created with one another. When I choose to strip for Amanda or bite Erik or roll around on the floor with Eric, those choices are made both within the context of the dance/movement/structure and our lives. And even more subtly, there are the ways we relate in the dance beyond our structural choices. The ways we look at one another, the ways we react to one another, the way we laugh or talk or adjust for one another during the piece, even the “rules” (of the algorithm) that we choose to break. All of it is not separate from who we are to one another.

 

Okay.

I think I’ve run out of words. But that’s where this piece is, where my thoughts are.

Tonight I’m going to see the Resident and Visiting Artist Concert being put on by the OSU Department of Dance. I’ve seen some of the work and heard great things about the other work. I’m looking forward to it.



Scattered thoughts

Life seems too busy for any sort of formal exploration of a single idea. So I think this post is going to be yet another scattered list of the ideas that are playing around in my mind right now.

Spring is here in Ohio, and it has carried me into a week of bliss. Mornings of yoga and Qi’Gong in the grass facing the sun, afternoons reading on a blanket in the park, strawberries, and the negotiation of getting work done and surrounding myself with pleasant company. I feel happy, and it makes me think of something my dear friend Laurel once said to me: in a year in which their seemed to be a direct conflict between nurturing my art/my creative self and my larger life happiness, she offered that perhaps it was also a service to my art/creative self to be happy. That maybe being happy would also serve to produce “better” art. So in the blossoming weeks of spring and flowers and friends and sleeping with the windows open, I am again negotiating those poles (that probably overlap quite a bit): the pressures of graduate school and this intensive investment in my art/creative self/education, and the more holistic happiness of living life.

This addressing a speculation concerning the line between art and life (this is not a new paradox). Where does the line between the two lie, if in fact there is a line. This was a frequent theme in the class I took last quarter with Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil, that of the intersection of art and life. How might the activities of our daily life be considered an art experience? How might the activities that we generally relegate to art be considered in the larger scope of our living (this is applicable for viewers of art, but even more so for creative artists)? If we distinguish between these, “Art” and “The Remainder of Life,” why do we make the distinction? Particularly in dance, which unfolds/progresses over time and space, is it “separate” because of the time/space in which we demarcate it? This is more simple when we speak of a  specific dance work. Or maybe not. I know my piece “About” because of it’s beginning and it’s ending. But in another sense, it also contains the months of conceptualization, the months of rehearsal, and continues to live on in the bodies and memories of those who encountered it, either as dancer or viewer. The “work” or “About” continues into the “remainder of life.” Is that continuation still an “art experience?” 

There is also this quality I have encountered in other dancers in which that which occurs within a specific piece is something like acting, pretend, or not real. And I don’t understand that. If you are playing a particular “role,” perhaps the distinction is more clear. If I were to dance in Les Noces, clearly I am not actually “The Bridegroom.” But is that the dance? Is the name the art, or is it the physical experience, the way the piece lives within the body? In which case, that “role” is a part of who I am, part of “real life.” Embodied experience cannot be “faked” or “acted.” It simply is, and as such, is for me part of the larger continuum of “real life.”

These are some of the ideas I’m thinking about.

On the subject of the collapse of Art/Life categories: This inspires me; I wish I could be there. An excellent example of art and life completely getting lost in one another:
bwinvitedesigned

Wedding as expression of relational love between two (queer) people. Wedding as performance art, as socio-ecological statement. The lines are blurry. The wedding is real, it is a wedding between these two women, their fifth actually, and it is also their art. And their art is their love. And their love is their art. I love this.

 

Other creative quandries:

I have a question about violence. I find that increasingly the subject matter of my work is the physical experiences themselves. Sometimes they exist loosely as a metaphor for larger existential experience, but even in those instances, my subject, my emphasis, is on the corporeal nature of that experience. How might those ideas live in the body, etc. Right now I seem to be thinking in reverse. This has come largely out of Mark Johnson’s The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding. He proposes the notion that meaning emerges from embodied experience, and it is in fact that experience that is the substance of what we know. For example, he discusses doubt or shame. These are feelings, pervasive sensations of emotion and the body that synthesize as an experience we might call “doubt.” He tries t describe the physical experience of doubt, the slight tension in the body, the effect on the breath, the hesitancy that enters into action and respiration. He proposes that these physical experiences do not “accompany” doubt, they ARE doubt. They are the experiences by which we “know” the thing we call doubt.

My interest right now is engaging with specific physical experiences, and allowing that which we feel/know/understand of its “meaning” emerge from the physicality. And right now there is an extremity to this interest, bordering on violence. Such as intense pulling in of the musculature towards the midline to the point of literal physical exhaustion. Or explosively launching from a squatting position up and back into space, as far as you can. These border on destructive, but they hold my interest because I think in them lies a specificity of experience that relates to larger existential topics. I am interested in the capacity of these specific physical experiences to reveal something . . . more. Something about what it means to exist. We’ll see where it goes . . . the connection is that these experiences, in all their brutality, are real, they are part of life. How do we live with them? How do I ask a dancer to live with them? I can articulate what I see as their value, and I do believe that risk can be part of what makes good art, but what about the lasting affects?

Which segues into another speculation, that of choreographing identity. I am interested in how these real physical experiences, that cannot be separated from “real life” are absorbed and retained in the body, and thus in identity. By engaging in specific actions, through the choices we make in the body, we are contributing to what our body is, its consistency, its memory, and thus who we are. It seems to add a gravity to what we do as dancers, as choreographers, the roles we take on, the classes in which we participate, etc. And I am also thinking about the “non-dancer population.” I am teaching a modern dance class to non-dance majors tonight. How am I contributing to their identities through the physical experiences through which I plan to guide them? 

Somatics is playing a big role in these research interests as well. In almost every branch or field of somatics, the body and mind are conceived of as inseparable, a unit, a soma. Memory, then, might exist in the muscles, the skeleton, the blood. Feelings and emotions have chemical foundations within the body, and those are experienced and retained. Thought is grounded in the brain, but extends into the body as well, which is why as  one directs thought to certain subjects, the way the body feels/is held/is experienced changes. Etc. etc. etc. This is where I see my research developing.

 

That’s all I have time for today. Those are my scattered thoughts, ideas, and inspirations.