M. 81. cardiac arrest.

This summer semester I’m fortunate to be able to dive further into inquiry into the structure and function of the human form as a student in Advanced Musculoskeletal Anatomy, a graduate cadaveric dissection course led by Dr. Laura Boucher in the OSU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. It’s an immense, intense, and paradoxically pragmatic experience. It’s formal. It’s messy. It’s business. It’s personal. It’s someone else. It’s you. It’s everyone you’ll ever know. Here’s a trace of processing outside of origins, attachments, and innervations:

Male. 81. Cardiac Arrest.

That’s the extent of information I have about my Teacher.

And yet.

A paradox of vulnerability and strength. 

An imposing, formerly vibrant figure lies still, exposed, bare, on a table.

Skin. Protective Integument. Repository. Place of traces. Of dirt, of sweat, of effort evaporating from the inner world to the outer. Of scars from the outer world reaching in.

Gossamer shield. The scalpel slices.

There is a matter-of-factness to the logistics of how we deal with bodies After.

The metal table covering, two interlocking angled lids, resembles a coffin-sized catering chafer.

Plastic wrappings.

White tablecloth and cellophane.  Saran wrap preserving leftovers.

A lined garbage pail at the head of the table collects pieces of person, tissue cleaned away. A PVC pipe collects fluid drained from the table into a metal pail. Jack and Jill fetch the pail and pour it through a plastic funnel into a blue plastic barrel at the end of each day.

I know his great saphenous vein, as it travels into the femoral vein.  I know his lesser saphenous too. I watch them wind and play and pour into the next.

I know the masses of yellow tissue that bubble underneath the skin and over muscle.

Adipose in repose.

Melting fat over muscle has a technique, the same as greasing your baking pan. Simply hold a wad of paper towel over the fat deposit and move circularly, side to side, up and down, with pressure, creating heat. Friction liquifies the warm yellow solid and spreads it.

White fascial webs contain and connect, holding on even though the ( what is the word ) has gone. Even though the need has gone. As if it’s waiting for us, for me, to find it, follow it, break it, and release it. It was waiting to teach me. It, they, him. Every cell. Every fiber.

When do cells die? When does cellular memory die? Does it?

To teach me about interdigitation. About articulation. About connection. About convergence. Divergence. Systems. Difference, sameness, function, form.

Vessels and fluids in the creature vessel.

Quiet.

Fibrous strands of

“the soft animal of your body.”

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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.