This was the subject heading of an email from Amelia Reeber in my inbox when I woke up the next morning in response to an email I had sent about the first day. Yeah. Take that. You better fucking believe it. Rah Rah Rah. Dynamic! Beautiful song be damned! Rah!
I went early to the hall and did a yoga practice. Rah! (did I mention that was about 10 meters away from where I slept?)
We did a practice then continued to learn the choreography, stopping many times to look at things more closely. Man, did I think I had a handle on comic movement without being funny. This was my jam until it wasn’t 4 times later. I think we ended the day (fittingly) with an unpretentious march off stage. Dum dum da dum dum.
Also, that day we added a practice with music and Deborah surprised us with PJ Harvey, Catpower, the XX, Sufjan.
Remember to turn your fucking head
This is a newer mantra in her toolbox. She said she watched video of herself and was mortified at its fixed frontal position. What if front is everywhere? She cited the people that brought this into her practice but didn’t mention Merce. Maybe he arrived at it later. Which reminds me. . .
I believe that was the day of her first history lesson where she shared a bit about how she came to and developed this practice. We gathered in a circle. I thought I would tell you a little bit about where this came from, she said and the magnitude of the history we were taking part of became real. Deborah Hay herself explaining the course of her radical dance pioneering. These things I had read, but now we were having the real human experience of it. How she got to be an understudy and then ended up performing Story and Eon with the Cunningham Company and how terrible she felt afterward. She had terrible stage fright. She was doing performances at Judson before she really knew what she was doing and eventually moved to Vermont and lived in a tent in a barn and dreaming up a way of working with the cellular body. She was in the process of trying to survive. She stopped performing and started making large group pieces for non-dancers. Eventually she took away the audience as well. She felt some need to remove all these elements (herself as a performer, traditional training, and audience) in order to cultivate a new understanding of performance that she could find endless possibility within.
At the end of the day, I found that anxiety was mounting for me. Is the only way you can actually get anywhere with this practice by turning your life over to it? Or more specifically, by turning your dancing over to it? Is there anyway you can just have it be a part of a whole, not give it 100%? Maybe I didn’t fully realize what I was getting into. This was an nervous rant I had at dinner with Miguel and Matthias that night and then the next day she said, it’s a presumption, not a belief and things began to flow again.
My next big block was, it’s not what you are doing its how you are perceiving. How are you perceiving? How am I perceiving? I would say this over and over and over answers jumping into my head (with my eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, nerves, softly, fluidly, while jumping, while lying down, etc, etc). The time between perception and dis-attaching was long enough to formulate sentences and answers. This is not the point.
Quote of the day: I’m asking you not to follow you bliss. I’m sorry.