Awesome beginnings

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First semester completed – it’s been a very dense period of focused activity, study, creating, growing, exploring, (& occasional kvetching).

To reflect on it right away is a bit challenging.  I feel a bit like I would after a particularly busy week/month/year of my just previous version of regular life in NYC (many subway trips, many discrete work units in different places doing tangentially related things).  Maybe this is how my computer feels after I download those full book pdfs for research with twelve other tabs open.

hmm.

New Vantage Points

I’m excited and intimidated to engage with writing critically and academically again, and to push myself to grow past previous experience and explore new contexts. Dr. Hannah Kosstrin’s Postmodernism class really pushed me to engage with reading and writing critically about the field I’m in the middle of.  The vantage point of contextualizing yourself, your performing and choroeographic experiences, creative impulses, networks, has been a rich place to sit and percolate.

It’s been a breath of fresh air to work with students, both grads and undergrads in the department, to witness their creative work, and to collaborate. I savor the distinct flavor of  “unjaded-ness” in the undergrads’ rigorous, exciting choreography. (I thought Wow! I can harness some of that again too…maybe)

(I simultaneously love and am frustrated by the never ending parade of insular, “made-up” theory words like Aboutness, de-doxify, visibilize/invisibilize, and anything with ness or ize… next project : visibilizing awesomeness in subaltern counterpublics and de-doxifying populist demagoguery –  Look, the times are political and the political is personal and personal is political…)

Grounding

Favorite grounding, landing places have been a graduate seminar taught by professor Norah Zuniga Shaw for the entire entering cohort (MFA and PhD), and Grad Choreography Workshop for MFAs facilitated by Dave Covey.

With Norah we landed. We shared transition experiences and tips while also checking in about practical skills- PowerPoint, FinalCut, Chicago Style, and had guest visits from Dept. Faculty- getting a sense for their specialties, and really interesting visitors from outside academia – glimpses of various career carvings in the broader field of dance. Most importantly the cohort got to know eachother. I’m grateful for the particularly spunky, smart, resourceful, empathetic, and strong group of artist-scholars I get to call peers.

Here are the MFAs in Dave Covey’s Choreography, or Creative Brain Space Making- getting to know eachother while adjusting to new lives and staying excited about it all – Workshop.

We made space. And painted space too.

And I moved everyday!

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Glorious Midwestern Studio Space.

and all the outside of class learning

I went outside!

I  went dancing for fun, witnessed OSU football Saturdays (who knew it was a fashion show) & even had a Freshman vomit on the sidewalk next to me when I was about to eat lunch. (Welcome to OSU!) Perhaps they too enjoy the unbelievable happy hours of Columbus: “Excuse me, I don’t think you charged me, I ordered a beer? ” – “No it’s really that cheap.”

 

Off to decompress and percolate on the theory, creative practice, physical practice, and general density of experiences and interconnections of the semester – see you next year.

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Merry Holiday Festivities to all .

Hope you find as much joy in your decorations as I do in my Charlie Brown tree.

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Dada Birthday Party

A wonderful reflection from a guest to our class final event:  “Wow. Everything, every transition, was … crazy.” We were ecstatic.

SO… when guest pulls out an action card that says Da Da Birthday Party we magically manifest chairs around a table, party hats and balloons for all, and  place a miniature birthday cake and tiny wooden mallet on the table. and wait.

We were having fun, and obliquely referencing  Max Ernst’s offering of an axe next to artwork, at  the Second Da Da Exhibition in 1920, – you know- to see what people will do. Interactive Art.

In preparation for our final group event, the class and Professor Norah Zuniga-Shaw erupted in bouts of uproarious laughter as we plucked favorite concepts and ideas from past studies by both groups, from technical magic, conceptual puzzles, low tech interpersonal gems, and thematic content.

I was too wrapped up in playing to take photos, but we wheeled our guests – literally- into a world, with awkwardly excited flight-attendantesque tour guides (a recurring theme from Monday’s lab crew), casual grooving,  circular screens with projected moving textures,  chance-ordered  interactive scenes entitled “Hot Air Balloon,” “Blockhead,” “Motion Capture,” and “Dada Birthday Party,”  some savasana, an awesome catch the movement improv, memory recall sharing, and a rousing round of “you’re awesome”(instructions below).

Some favorite moments from the semester:

 

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Storytelling on the box.

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Faces on boxes floating places.

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Demetra and Kyla’s wonderful Intermedia rendition of twister.

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Wednesday group’s Surprise Party as Interactive Performance

(What a way to consider how we “perform” in social situations all the time).

Some Favorite Concepts:

1) Relishing in learning happening by doing. And by doing without knowing what you’re doing as you’re doing it.  And reflecting and letting it wash over you. And doing more things.

2)  Questioning what performance is. Maybe a capital “E” Event,  maybe just walking down the street and noticing, maybe chance meetings, parties, shared experience.

3) Playing with tech tools, images, props, (something outside of the body) as a starting place to explore what kinds of embodied magic can happen. 

(This reminds me of the box of craft junk treasures my mother would take out for us to make “stuff” with.  Hot glue, feathers, glitter, paint, pipe cleaners, wooden shapes, and no end goal in mind. Those studies, just like our class studies, were little thought/doing  exercises in which the thinking and doing the blur in the moment of play.)

4) Genuine value of process.  The class ethos allowed studies to be studies – it allowed for risk taking.  The prospect of a flop (despite or because we were working in such a liminal space that who knows what a flop or success would even be?) was not prohibitive the way it can be in a traditional comp class, or even professional works-in-progress showing, in which lip service is paid (well-meaningly)  to risk taking and exploration but in which works are only nominally considered studies/experiments. They are graded/evaluated/critiqued often as products.

Maybe it’s something about “The Art of Making Dances” rather than “one of many perspectives on the Art(s) of Making Dances”

5) Thinking Bigger Picture:

What are the systems we make, live in, work in, are subjected to?

How do/can we function within those systems with agency?

What is technology- how has technology anchored our personal experience of the world? How do technological advances coincide with world events on broad scales: political movements, artistic movements, war?

How to we responsibly wield access to and advances in technology for benefiting humanity rather than destroying it?

Instructions for “You’re Awesome:”

Works best in a group standing in a circle, with some energy shifting side to side, or jogging in place, but can be seated, etc.

Person A  says “one”, holding up one finger.

Other players repeat: “ONE!!!!!!” Brandishing one digit.

Person A says something (they learned, they’re thinking about, excited about)

Other Players respond : “YOU’RE AWESOME!!!!”

Person A : “Two”

Other players repeat: “TWO!!!!!!!”

Person A says something else (they learned, they’re thinking about, excited about)

Other players respond: “YOU’RE AWESOME!!!!”

Person A: Three” . . .

Each player says three things, echoed by awesome affirmations, until the group has finished.The more raucous each “awesome” is the more hilarious.

Try it at your next business meeting, awkward team building day, rehearsal, birthday party…  it’s Awesome.

 

 

 

Mid Term Reflection: Intermedia Performance

Last week in Professor Norah Zuniga-Shaw’s Intermedia Performance class I said – “I’ve never considered that before right now. Actually I’ve never considered a lot that we do in this course until now.” An off-the-cuff remark , I don’t remember exactly what “that” was, but it pretty much sums up every class thus far.

Brave New World

I’ve noticed an exhilarating and intimidating sense of Beginner-ness in Intermedia.Class is located in MOLA, or the Motion Lab, the most souped up BlackBox I’ve ever seen. Lab is structured as open play- here are tools, here’s your team, here’s a task, here’s the on-button, GO.  For someone who can barely turn on the television (if there is more than one remote I don’t bother) it’s a Brave New World. It’s exciting.  I take baby steps using Isadora software, operating the lightboard, sending images to different projectors- not with confidence yet – but maybe by end of the semester.

(I consider my discomfort with many forms of tech and flashback to my only technology classes in high school: lovely septuagenarian Sr. Christina (bless her) teaching us the long-cuts for copy and paste in Microsoft Word, a program which we had all already been using for years. “Now girls don’t only use the shortcuts, use the buttons in the menu bar, so you know how to do it the real way.” Cue plenty of rude eyerolls from students, and not much learning.)

I’m identifying resistance/ fear around this world I don’t know! So I’m diving in to learning – attacking fear with information. If only the whole world would do that too.

While we generate studies we are experimenting with how multiple tools (live feed video, recorded projection, spatial orientation of projectors, physical objects, spatial arrangement of performer and audience, light and shadow, and live and recorded sounds) create atmosphere, affect, and offer possibilities for meaning. For example in a lab for our first study, a digital portrait, Tara Burns, Emily Craver, and I explored shadow, live video feeds, multiple projection surfaces and close proximity between audience and performer.

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Tara Burns in our Digital Portrait Study

As we venture into further inquiry and practical exploration around the concept of virtuality, the reality of virtual space and corporeal objects, the reality of the physical body and the reality of a live feed video of that same body, the notions of what is and isn’t “real” become blurred more easily than I imagined.

Tech vs.  Content

Right now we’re playing with technological tools, and each study reveals ways in which these tools allow for unique meaning making. In Digital Performance: A History o f New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation Steve Dixon illustrates the tension between technology and content.  Rather than locating artistic value and primary analysis within technology itself, ie. “the Web represents the greatest hypertext work, ” Dixon focuses on the “particularities of performance and performances in varied ways in order to create different types of content, drama, meanings, aesthetic impacts, physiological and psychological effects, audience performer relationships, and so on.”

I’ve noticed as we view multiple pieces that the implicit bias I came in with- against gratuitous technological use (tacky backdrops, tech for tech’s sake) -is still there, yet I even more deeply appreciate works that utilize technology as a necessary means to fully investigate concept/content – check out Alice Sheppard’s Kinetic Light and Nicole Canuso’s Pandaemonium. (I saw Pandaemonium at NYLA in 2017.)

Course Crossover

So far I’m enjoying frequent overlap between Intermedia and conversations in other courses.   For example in Intermedia we looked at Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker’s FASE analyzing from a gestalt perspective of interplay between elements, of editing and presentation.  Nearly simultaneously we visited the work in Daniel Roberts’ Music and Choreography class-  analyzing movement visualizations of phasing in the minimalist score.  Not long after we mentioned De Keersmaeker’s formal structures in conversations of transatlantic trends in postmodern dance in Dr. Hannah Kosstrin’s Postmodernism class…

Personal Practice

Every so often Norah directs us to leave the dark theater and venture outside for a silent 10 minutes of “notice what you notice” walking– returning refreshed for the day’s task. I’ve found that taking a similar noticing walk first thing can foster a more focused day – likewise it’s a good “reset” in the middle.

Dixon, Steve. 2007. Digital Performance: A History o f New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation. Cambridge: MIT Press.

6 weeks in

I’m 6 weeks into a new adventure.

A thought from ballet class:

Once something is required it feels different.

I get to take dance class everyday! This is awesome.  Ah. But now I have to.  

Why does its being required squeeze something out of enjoyment? Like that book you  would have loved had you found it on your own but your teacher made you read it. . . (Or rather I tried to share with students… and they were very unenthused…)

Everyone’s uptight. We’re being evaluated. There’s no dog sitting next to Janet Panetta.  I feel like I can’t be free to just “take class” like I would.  I feel the urge to perform a knowledge of ballet.  To perform that I belong here.  To demonstrate that yes I did my time in technique classes and did Ms. Beth’s Vaganova “and-1s” developpe exercises in a past life and did bad Nutcrackers and wore leotards . . . I’m a professional dammit.

I feel unsatisfied, wobbly. I push everything. I push myself to jump on a day when my knee isn’t feeling up to it. I pay for it with swelling, pain, and the ensuing frenzy  of am I getting too old, did I not do enough, have I missed a magical moment that was never there to begin with? blahblahblah.

And then I chat with the Amazing Karen Eliot, ( there’s something about the name Karen and amazing ballet teachers – but that’s another post ) and answer my own problem with a run-on sentence.  “This mal-alignment issue has been going on for a long time, sometimes it’s painful but I can force my body to just do the thing-  when there’s a gig you just have to do it – but here I don’t. . .”

“You don’t have that pressure.”

“No, I don’t. ”

Right.

This particular graduate experience at this particular personal professional juncture-  even and especially in the simplest of moments – the mundane practice of how to take technique class- (let alone literature, theory, new media, meeting new people in new contexts etc.) facilitates space & time to reflect broadly on my practices as an artist, as a woman, as a person.  Habits. Shoulds. Wants. Needs. Desires.

I’m shocked and so appreciative at the amount of time available for diving deeply into a project or reading, for a personal workout at the pilates studio or the pool, for taking a walk and seeing what I see. For thinking about how I think about things. For noticing the sunset.

It’s like I haven’t breathed in seven years. I’m almost afraid I’ll use up all the oxygen.

Ohio Sunset
they make the sky bigger out here

 

 

 

 

 

The Move.

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The Move.

If you decide to move  a mattress, bike, & miscellany to the Midwest from Manhattan – it might be best not to assume that a large SUV will suffice. Maybe go for the U-Haul first thing.  And it will probably rain.

The act of driving your life from one place to another is a pretty big deal.

For the first time I’m living alone – no abundant roommates (no roaches!- so far) – though I miss them – the roommates I mean, not the roaches. No partner, no family to arrive home to.  It’s hard to adjust at first. Hard to sleep. I turned thirty the first week of school.  Cue mild existential crises around this particular melange of circumstances.

But for the first time I’m a capital ‘A’ Adult, who can feel she’s not on anyone’s sufferance. I signed a lease for my own place.  (I just cannot do that in NY – I’ll never make 40X the amount of rent needed to sign a lease, even in farthest reaches of the city.)

My apartment has four rooms –  a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a bedroom.  The shower is not in the kitchen. No walls made of bookshelves.  Etc.

Positively indulgent.

I ran errands in a U-Haul.

A half-gallon of milk at Walmart is 71 cents.

OH- is this how  people live?

As a Fellowship student, for the first time ever I have a predictable income, of a set amount, for every month for the next year.  I will go to one place every day. Not multiple boroughs/states.  I’ll ride a bike. Not the 123ACEBDFMNRQWSGLIRRNJTSIRferryassortedbusnumbers.

I’m starting out dancing through this new experience. I don’t know the steps – maybe there aren’t any -so I’ll improvise…

 

If you decide to move  a mattress, bike, and miscellany to the Midwest from Manhattan…