Friday, April 28, 2006

I was dancing in La Pedrera last week in preaparation for my performance there on the 2nd of July. Here are some images...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

There are two approaches I am pondering at the moment around my choreographic practice:

1) Setting movement in the body so deeply (through the process of repetition --- like the yogic sun salutation for example) that the mind becomes ‘free’.
2) Occupying the mind so that the movement can become ‘free’ (Jonathan Burrows uses this approach – he will tie up the mind in the process of problem solving so that the act of judging oneself whilst dancing decreases).

Both approaches presuppose that there is an advanced level of training in the body or that the movement being performed has entered the ‘habit body’ (to use Merleau-Ponty’s term).

What I want to strip away in the act of dancing is ego-consciousness which is at the root of performance personas. Performance persona types are as varied and numerous as there are personality types but performers/dancers tend to adopt (and at various points in one’s career the performance persona may change) a performance persona which correlates to the type of training the performer is immersed in. For example, jazz dancers may adopt a performance persona of high self-confidence, sometimes lacquered with an emphasis on sexuality and high energy.
At the opposing end of the spectrum are the ‘contemporary dance improvisers’ who often share a performance persona which is ‘cool’ – where the emphasis whilst performing is to exude a sense ‘easy-going’ and/or ‘all excepting’. In this performance persona the real unpreparedness and panic brought on from the adrenaline high of the act of performing is hidden from the audience’s view. This performance persona therefore is as false as that of the jazz dancer.
How do we know when we are seeing the real person?
This awareness of performance personas is only scratching the surface of what Japanese philosopher Yasuo Yuasa refers to as ‘the emotion-instinct circuit’. Shigenori Nagatomo gives a description of this circuit in his Introduction in Yuasa’s book: The Body, Self-Cultivation and Ki-Energy as: …[Yuasa] considers this circuit essential for maintaining the life of a body, for without its functioning life ceases. This circuit converts the stimulus received through a sensory organ into an emotional response (pleasure or pain) or information about stress, which affect the activity of the visceral organs…this circuit holistically affects the whole person” (1993:xvii).

These are just some glimpses of my thoughts at the moment -- more on performance personas to come I think…
God, this website is in danger of becoming a philosophical rant!