Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Complicity

Complicity, in its best form in the arts, works to our favour, where an audience, complicit with us as performers, is in on the action. They follow you as you play your edges, get excited as you near them and sense when you go beyond.

But I think there's a dark side to complicity. When an audience is seduced into believing they have been given the keys to the VIP -- that they are in on the cruel joke or the cool move.

Complicity, at its worst in humanity -- and perhaps this is where my graduate studies in history firmly overlap with my life as a dance artist -- has been used to coerce, cajole, urge people into following along with a regime that is a house of cards or a house of evil.

We all seek a sense of belonging. Complicity--which can, I believe, be fostered by leaders political or artistic -- can be a dangerous track to a sense belonging but with the stakes of excluding others, overlooking flaws in the fabric, or abandoning creativity for the sake of holding onto that identity.

I think it's time we gently call out our artistic leaders when their cultivation of complicity rests on cruel jokes and cool moves, when we are made complicit by understanding the catch-phrases, so to speak.

Innovation is not the be all and end all, but I do believe that as artists, and more generally as human beings, we strive for growth and deeper understanding of our existence. As artists, let's take our audiences along with us as we try to grow, so that they can relate with their own stretching and shifting.

It's important not to be too comfortable. Change is inevitable. It's important not to rest on the identity you think you've carved out for yourself. You are changing too. That identity might actually not fit anymore, and if you look closely, you may find that something is bulging out that you might not like everyone to see.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jorma Elo

I have almost no words for this man's choreography. I want to dance it, I want to see it live. With all due respect to Balanchine and Cranko, Crystal Pite, John Neumeier, Christopher Wheeldon and my friend Peter Quanz -- this man is a new wave of ballet....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWTGuqpuZp4

Friday, October 24, 2008

Curiosity...

why do we watch what we watch? obligation?
i'm on the jury for the dora awards, dance division this year, so yes, for me it is partially obligation, but a responsibility i take very seriously and do with joy. the shows i get to see this year! good, bad, ugly. astounding, shocking, moving. i say bring it on. bring it all on.

but i see work, i go to the theatre to follow my curiosity similar to the curiosity i feel in the studio. i don't know how everyone else feels, but i know my curiosity is run by my gut and is generally pretty smart. (Don't know about the rest of me, but my curiosity has got it going on.)

so what do you do when you go to theatre and your own curiosity extends beyond what you're witnessing and you feel cheated. why do people stop with a concept and not delve in deeper? do concepts stop when fear and/or arrogance rule?

concepts in art-making -- i could go on about this forever. for me concept is not the same as idea, theme, inspiration. in this context it is a superficial treatment of an idea, theme or inspiration. once you plunge the concept into the waters of your imagination and curiosity you reach something artful.

back to Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's show with Toneelhuis -- MYTH -- a concept that could have lay on the skin. but it did not, it sank down, sank in, like a tattoo, a rash, a perfume. fascinating. is it purely that european companies have better societal, cultural and financial support? or is there something different about the approach conceptualizing a work (different from the noun concept -- verbs are always so much better!)?

so many questions, will someone come my way with answers?
some days i am tired of living here in toronto, feeling the pulse of the dominant aesthetic in dance here, feeling my own blood moving at a different rate.

i do not want to be a complainer. i just want to be confident about my pulse of my own blood....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Abecedarian -- the dance by Lucy and the poem by Sarah Slean

After performing my work "The Abecedarian" this weekend, some audience members asked about reading Sarah Slean's poem which was written for me to use as inspiration for choreography. Sarah is a most generous and amazing artist, on many levels and I hope you can take the time to read this beautiful poem below. It is also published in her most recent book of poetry. See www.sarahslean.com for details....

ABECEDARIAN - by Sarah Slean
A - amelia earheart yearning to fly. awe flowers open in her dreaming eye. like the long and constant exhale of the sky while the monk at his table, is writing.

B - what you reach for is already there, in your hand, you may think we are birds condemned to the land, but somewhere eternal, beyond feeble sight. the gravity creature is always in flight.

C - consecutive clock has an itch it must scratch, it will tick and will tock and will cower and crack, but "circle", the word, contains all that C knows, the hard kick of time and the soft way it flows.

D - parting the years like a volatile sea... "Now" opens time like a dictionary from young to old and from A to Z you are always right there in the middle

E - ecstatic, the embers fly up to the trees, exhaling their lives with elegant ease the campfire instructs us to rise from our knees but who, of the gathered, is listening.

F - follow me follow me follow me follow me today is the fountain from which you must feed forget that you fell from that Genesis tree the fruits and the flowers are not fantasy

G - "God" is the guess that they want you to make but grace, when it's granted, won't let you partake go further instead, to the uncharted lake, where you know golden swans are a-swimming.

H - the earth softly utters a holier word in the hollow where bickering gods can be heard "heaven is coming", "it's already occurred!" they shout in the faces of unnoticed angels

I - this, the illusion we ironically see, that I am not you, and you are not me like ivy its climbing and choking the tree that, despite a great crown, grew from one common seed

J - jewels of sweat on the Jesuit brow, mecca vibrates under thundering bows and the monk, at his table, cannot fathom how there is only a mouse in the temple of Now

K - yet who can contest its most curious might? this killer of kings, this glorious knight who quiets the enemy, not with a fight, but almost as if letting go of a kite?

L - in longing to know, we must love the unknown with Kierkegaard, trembling, and aching for home we leap and discover the light in a stone is the very same light in the heart of a master

M - "master?, what master?", the suicides ask "How am I a slave if I know not my task? How can I love God when I know it's a mask that my own starving mind has created."

N - Napoleon squirms in his watery grave and Nietzsche's convinced that there's nothing to save. he spat on the flowers the poetess gave as she murmured the sonnets of Rilke.

O - Overmen shatter, but archers will go, even though hard the seasons of suffering blow watch how he opens, caresses his bow in the midst of uproarious battle.

P - piercing all shadows with blistering light the arrows flies high through the perilous night love, sent in earnest, will always make right the erroneous aim of its sender.

Q - then what must we make of the stumbling queen who gropes in the firelight for answers unseen? she poisons herself to dismantle the scene that plays and replays in her memory.

R - ravens assemble all over her chair and peck at the riches of rags in her hair tangled in puppetry, courting despair, her play will crescendo to ruin

S - that's when Seymour appears, his lost sister to claim, like the monk at his table, he tells her, "don't aim, how can you see, when you're drowning in shame, the You that is ancient and without a name?"

T - "Tomorrow torments you and time is the terror, a watch is the gift that will torture the bearer. to live is no art - art is for the pretender to live, my dear queen, is an act of surrender."

U - "Undo the divisions a hungry heart makes remember the swans in the uncharted lakes theirs is a silence that slowly unties the veil that for so long has covered your eyes"

V - a veil, she imagined, a veil of lace with patterns the mind wants to frantically chase a veil that, though lovely, obscures the true face of a queen who is yearning to see.

W - who will record the inquiry herein? all of these questions have answers built in Wonder is all, and forever has been the jewel in our cognitive crown

X - sometimes there is simply no need to explain the sexier side of existence is plain delicious it is to know pleasure and pain to court them, but never to marry.

Y - you are the puzzle, you, the perfection you, the miraculous, living reflection of everything vast and beyond feeble sight you are the gravity creature, alight!

Z - like sandbags from magical hot air balloons, we cut at the rope of our fictions and soon, there's a You that is ancient and without a name and zenith and zero are one and the same.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Continuing advocacy for arts and culture after the election

I was at the Mayor's Arts Awards Luncheon yesterday and Mayor David Miller, without being partisan, managed to say what a crappy thing cutting arts and culture funding is, and spoke about how proud he was to stand among other mayors across the country to oppose the culture cuts. There's something to be learned from him.

And then there's Jim Fleck who gives millions to the arts but is a staunch supporter of the conservative party, who has recently cut arts and culture funding at an alarming proportion and probably will try to cut more now that Stephen Harper has been reelected.

We shouldn't be afraid to stand up for what we believe in, regardless of our place in the political spectrum, or in the cultural landscape. As Jean Chretien said to the US when they were looking for support to invade Iraq, sometimes being a good friend means telling your friends when you think they are wrong. And the beauty of democracy is that politically you can do this!

As artists, arts and culture workers or organizations we should be advocating for culture. It used to be we had to advocate for funding increases proportionate to other sectors and to the costs and standards of living increase, but now we have to advocate just to stay at the same level as always. This should be frightening to us, regardless of what party we believe in on other issues, and regardless of what party is threatening our livelihood. And we shouldn't just be advocating for increases in funding. We should be highlighting how vital culture is to any society. There is no society without it. Culture is not something "normal people" can't relate to; "normal people" are making culture all the time. Culture is how we interpret landscape, skylines, fashion; how we organize our gardens, our time. Dance is how fast we walk to work with our iPods. Music is the rhythm of the squirrels dodging cars on residential streets....Culture is simply how we perceive and make sense of the world we inhabit.

Our mayor here in Toronto, for his faults on other counts I'm sure, understands how culture is woven into the social, economic and political fabric of a community, not as a fringe benefit of living in a rich country --because arts and culture thrive in places where people have very little -- but as an inextricable part of human interaction, arts and culture as form to the voices we possess collectively and individually. If we don't have that chance to put our voices into form, we reduce our language to metaphoric grunts and snorts.

Come on, man, we're better than that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This is just the beginning.....

....of my writing about Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's MYTH, which I just saw at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. I made the pilgrimmage alone on a wing and a prayer. I've been reading about his work for years and this is the first chance I've encountered to see his work. It could be disastrous. All this idealizing and I could have totally bottomed out with a stinker -- but this is no stinker. In fact that word shouldn't come close to descriptions of this show. Although a few people left about half an hour into it....

...What a thing they missed.

"Real people" and their shadows trapped in a library. Walls have slippery doors that the shadows slide, twist and tease their way through. Their movements have no bones. Like shadows they have clear edges but physics don't seem to apply to them. The "real people" search through their personal myths and stories to make sense of the swirling beasts around them, they are possessed, they reason, they cry, they sing.

Singing and music-making descends from the rafters where 8 musicians are perched. A six-foot man in drag tap dances with a team of shadows. Two women fight inside one giant white hoop skirt. A shadow rebels from its owner tearing at her as she tears at him. A baby cries for his maman as he contorts in softly flops across the floor. His maman looks for her maman among her library-fellows, ignoring the baby she has just delivered.

What truly broke my heart was a quote from Henry Miller that was projected across the top of the set for "chapitre 3":

"All growth is a leap in the dark."

Anyone who knows me well, knows I am obsessed with Miller's work, philosophy, life. What followed the projection of this quote was somehow a summation of my hopes and fears of life.

I could only go along for this amazing ride. I can't say I understood all the action, but I did not feel I needed to. I felt the logic of the director/choreographer, though I could not palpate it. I felt the struggle of the shadows and their people though their individual stories were obscured.

Shadows obscure the true colour and shape of things, but meanwhile reveal the shape of other things. Another projected quote was "The sun has never seen its shadow".

After MYTH, it feels like maybe the shadows have seen, and felt, everything.

To be continued....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nuit Blanche dancing at Casa Loma

In the stables of historic horses named Prince and The Widow...every hour 10 minutes of dancing, 10 minutes of preparing the body, 5 minutes getting out of the stable, 20 minutes of desperate active napping.

at 3am I felt distinctly that my body was asleep while my mind, by act of sheer telekinesis, was moving the body without the help of muscles or skeleton. Eyes open, feet smell -- they are not used to being in shoes for 16 hours straight. Audiences are shell shocked, rude, rapt, lovely. The floor is cold, hard, easy to spin on, stained by historic horse poop.

it was an incredible night of dancing. filling a ghost ridden building with fresh, respectful life. Guided by horses long gone and the Romantic fantasies that swirl around Casa Loma -- especially at 4am.

From what I can see the Nuit Blanche festivities were most inspired across the city. I only wish I could have seen the dancing mascots at Lamport Stadium.

some part of my body is still dancing, scraping a hoof, tossing a tiny, cellular mane. It may take days for the ghosts to leave me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

what do you want to watch?

I'm a hedonist as a dancer, I fully admit it. I like to do things that feel good. However, my definition of feel good does not always equal "pleasant". Sometimes what feels good to me are penetratingly sad moments or things that are physically difficult if not impossible. Sometimes what feels good is to run and jump and tumble so much that I feel like I'll vomit at the end of the phrase.

But there's another kind of hedonistic dancing -- that performance quality that is purely aobut the pleasure of the movement. I watched dancing like this recently and although the dancer was gorgeous, I felt I had been asked to witness a dancer exploring the sensation of her movement without comment, attitude or hypotheses. Now in this case, I felt that it was a choice the choreographer had made rather than the dancer's impulse, but it left me feeling vacant and unmoved by anything I was watching.

The dancer's dynamic shifts did not seem to shift dynamic. The quality was consistent even when it changed. It was eerie -- when I felt stimulated enough to pay attention. My mind loped all over the place. I felt peeved that I was not asked to engage in the work, merely to watch it.

I wonder, is this the preponderence of release technique? Is it arrogance on the part of we choreographers, assuming that the dancer's sensations are enough to feed our audiences? Is it just me who feels disappointed?

There are so many different ways to reel an audience into your work. Visual artists do it in amazing ways because there is not necessarily a moving object before the pair of eyes looking at the work. But great paintings and great dances of all disciplines, styles, approaches work a bit of alchemy and both halves wind up the better for it.

It brings me to mention a standing ovation I recently witnessed at a mediocre to not-bad performance of a big-name company in Canada. It was by no means the only one I've witnessed in recent years that seemed overkill for a lacklustre theatrical experience. I think audiences crave that transcendental experience at the theatre and will convince themselves they've seen it because they want it so badly. Now I'm not pitting audiences against myself. I crave it too! I want to be blown away, moved to tears or joy or anger or a more peculiar emotion like covetousness or euphoria...

Leading me to my question, when you go to the theatre - or to any environment that promises some theatrical experience, anything from an art gallery to a b-boy battle -- what do you want to watch?

I want to be standing on my feet at the end, but I don't think watching someone go through the motions, even if they are beautifully executed motions, is enough.

I want more. From the things I witness. From the things I do, myself.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

1,2,3 and Peggy Baker

I just finished Peggy Baker's Summer Intensive and launched straight into performing in Caroline Niklas-Gordon's show 1,2,3 (don't believe NOW magazine that said Blue Ceiling dance produced it -- it was all done on Caroline's steam). I feel the earth radically shifting under my feet. New verbs, new images, new fullness and height to my dancing. Perhaps nothing has changed but my insides, but what glorious insides are sprouting, then!

It is amazing to me, because this week was also my birthday and I am an age where the traditional dance thought is that you are done improving physically and while your artistry may rise, your technical ability is on the wane. I feel so far from that 'truth' that it might as well be on the far side of Pluto. Peggy's intensive, and particularly the time she spent with us in 'creative practice', has revealed how it is that we can turn that traditional thinking on its ear, how it is that your artistry's deepening can strengthen and extend your technique as a dancer and as an interpreter.

It seems fitting as well to come across these thoughts while obsessively watching the Olympics and seeing older and older athletes liberating mind from body to win medals. You train, you train, and you train some more and then your use the wisdom that comes from your years on this planet to surpass yourself. I'm not saying that you can't be wise and young, but there is something to just being alive for a bit longer that endows you with some understanding of the universe and yourself that you just don't stumble upon until a certain autumnal part of the path.

Well now, this is all very philosophical and perhaps too ethereally-written. But just go watch Peggy Baker dance, or most of Pina Bausch's Wuppertal dance company, or the Canadian Olympic Equestrian team and convince me that they don't have something to teach us all about the fusion of mind and body in the post-40 era.

I have a while before I arrive at 40, but the view looks pretty good from here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Perils of Touring

Yes the hotel had a pool and a hot tub....unfortunately I have a peculiar rash on my left thigh now....

I tipped over the flimsy bowl for take-out noodles and nicely soaked the hotel's remote control for the TV. Room 641 may be forever stuck on CNN....

And now there are a few dozen pictures of me looking very tired and smudgy-eyed from stage makeup that never quite washes off before it must be reapplied....


Secretly, I love it all.
Except the rash.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

i think i like vancouver

I have a crappy view from my hotel room, though I can see a small rhomboid of water....but so far I don't mind this place. Certain corners are graced by small ghosts, but thankfully memory is discontinuous on the theme of the last time I was here and the bad images are sparse and scattered. I got to see Ron Stewart rehearsing at the Scotia Dance Centre. Ron was one of my favourite dancers in Toronto when I first moved there and he hasn't been back much, at least to my knowledge. I was a little starstruck. His movement quality always had, for me, the quality of those sleek enormous sea birds who can fly for days without flapping their wings. And the depth of integration and expression he had....well I guess it's no surprise that he's out here, where these quality seem to have more weight in the dance community. It makes me think that I should be dancing here once in a blue moon, rather than never.

Vancouver has such a gem in the Scotia Dance Centre. I loved rehearsing in a studio with a gray ceiling and such natural light. The floors have that inevitable feet-smell but what a gorgeous thing these Vancouver dancers have.

Coming back at Theatre Rusticle's April 14, 1912 after a two week hiatus from rehearsals was arduous but as always revelatory. Now the trick is to take it on the stage without dropping the ball, the movement, the lines, the blocking, the sticks, the energy, the argument, the smells, the tastes, the sounds.....

Off to a hot bath before technical rehearsals which will probably suck the joy right out of me...as technical rehearsals tend to do.

But I think I like Vancouver....we'll see how I feel after 5 shows and 6 more days.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

no feelings

what is this no emotion, no feelings on stage?
a concept is not the heart of the matter.
clever does not equal smart.
clever may equal cool.
but cool changes quickly to lukewarm.
and we all wonder why we should care.
apathy hits the eyes first and then the ears.
but the heart never really shrugs and slouches in its chair.
maybe it just naps for a while.
until something radiates towards it.
long fingers of heat or crisp sunlight, or devastation or utter melancholy.
something other than the dispassionate, cool and clever statement of nothing, really.
a maple key is spiralling upwards by my window -- now that's something, somehow defying gravity on a windless day.
not clever, but terribly interesting, it has some meaning on a grey, windless day.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Images from Ava/Chroma





photos by Melanie Gordon
Ava/Chroma
April 2. 2008

after opening night

Ava/Chroma opened last night. I was worried because I pulled a hamstring during the dress rehearsal in the afternoon and couldn't bend forward without pain. The muscle felt like a piano string....But I took the advice of dancer Jennifer Dallas (who was a paramedic at one point in her life!) and by show time I was ready to go and only one or two things needed to be adapted in the choreography in order to dance. Thanks also to Darryl Tracy who gave Jennifer great advice about Traumeel, that Jennifer passed on to me.

Kyle Abraham had the audience in the palm of his hand and I am so glad that he got such a great response....It will make it easier to bring him back again for more work together.

Three more shows left and I can't wait to dig in again. The blackness of the Theatre Centre space frees up the imagination and the lighting design (by Jason Hand) gives subtle hints and clues to live inside.

Come jump into the world with us.

Friday, March 28, 2008

behind the scenes glimpse on youtube!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-S612rx4tE

Check out a bit of behind the scenes with Matthew and me, captured by Jessica Baran and Julye Huggins from DUO!

Ava Soolingen and Tars Larsen prepping for the stage....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One week to opening show!

A two hour rehearsal, a three hour rehearsal and a two hour yoga class and I'm realizing that this time next week I will be sweating and out of breath at this hour probably in the final minutes of my duet with Matthew Romantini. Yesterday DUO lovelies Jessica Baran and Julye Huggins came into Matthew and my rehearsal, filmed a bit of our work and interviewed us. Matthew and I were at turns silly and very serious so we are worried how they will edit it! Perhaps me saying "The National Ballet's Rolling Stones ballet sucked!" or something about whether or not our bums look good in our choreography. It's funny how even with a short creation process the intensity is such that we pick up each others' body language and jokes. I take it as a good sign that we're ready to be on stage together!

Similarly Jennifer Dallas and I, dancing in Susan Kendal's work in the same show, have discovered that we can avoid train wrecks of our memory quite fluidly together. For some reason this is more exciting to me than knowing I can perform a work perfectly: knowing that I'm on stage with someone who can freestyle with memory or muscle failure. It makes you stay present, and totally in the moment. I love it.

I'm glad there's one week left before opening. But I will be ready....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

11th hour

We're less than two weeks to the opening of Ava/Chroma, the show I am coproducing with Susan Kendal as part of DanceWorks CoWorks series. My dear new friend Kyle Abraham is coming in from New York to perform, my coproducer is 8 and 1/2 months pregnant, and up until Tuesday my cocreation with Matthew Romantini was feeling good, but not great yet.

So now I will sing the praises of having an outside eye come in. Early on in the process, Matthew and I had the great fun of working with Julia Sasso. She pushed us right out of our habits and skewed our view on the material we'd made so that we could see new potential for it.

On Tuesday, Andrea Nann came in as our outside eye and watched a run of the 20 minute duet we'd made. She asked a few questions, suggested rearranging the order of the sections and we ran it again. PRESTO! The work was taking on all the things we felt it had been missing.

At first I felt like a failure because I hadn't seen this possibility....but I hadn't actually SEEN the piece, I'm dancing in it! Plus I refuse to use mirrors in rehearsals whenever humanly possible. How did I expect myself to understand what the full, continuously shifting picture might be? My job as an interpreter of dance who also creates dance changes as the process moves closer to performance. The movement finds its own spirit and I focus on channelling my energy to fill it. In the 11th hour, another pair of eyes can make sure that the loose spirit of the choreography and the dancers' channels of energy tell the same story.

What a thrill to have worked with two such amazing and different outside eyes, who each were the perfect fit at the time they came in to the studio with us. I am ready to bat this one home now. I hope you are there to see it, and to let me know what you think.

Ava/Chroma runs April 2-5 at Theatre Centre (1087 Queen St. West) 8pm
Tickets are $15-20 -- call DanceWorks at 416 204 1082 for reservations and tickets!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sarah Slean's poem for my dancework "The Abecedarian".

For those who were asking -- here is the poem Sarah Slean wrote for me as I created my dance work "the Abecedarian". An abecedarian, for those who don't already know, is an ancient poetic form in which the lines or images appear in alphabetical order. Sarah was very kind to give me such a beautiful 'score' from which to create my dance. (You can see an excerpt of that dance on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geVDZGW-9B0)

ABECEDARIAN - S. Slean
A - amelia earheart yearning to fly. awe flowers open in her dreaming eye. like the long and constant exhale of the sky while the monk at his table, is writing.
B - what you reach for is already there, in your hand, you may think we are birds condemned to the land, but somewhere eternal, beyond feeble sight. the gravity creature is always in flight.
C - consecutive clock has an itch it must scratch, it will tick and will tock and will cower and crack, but "circle", the word, contains all that C knows, the hard kick of time and the soft way it flows.
D - parting the years like a volatile sea... "Now" opens time like a dictionary from young to old and from A to Z you are always right there in the middle
E - ecstatic, the embers fly up to the trees, exhaling their lives with elegant ease the campfire instructs us to rise from our knees but who, of the gathered, is listening.
F - follow me follow me follow me follow me today is the fountain from which you must feed forget that you fell from that Genesis tree the fruits and the flowers are not fantasy
G - "God" is the guess that they want you to make but grace, when it's granted, won't let you partake go further instead, to the uncharted lake, where you know golden swans are a-swimming.
H - the earth softly utters a holier word in the hollow where bickering gods can be heard "heaven is coming", "it's already occurred!" they shout in the faces of unnoticed angels
I - this, the illusion we ironically see, that I am not you, and you are not me like ivy its climbing and choking the tree that, despite a great crown, grew from one common seed
J - jewels of sweat on the Jesuit brow, mecca vibrates under thundering bows and the monk, at his table, cannot fathom how there is only a mouse in the temple of Now
K - yet who can contest its most curious might? this killer of kings, this glorious knight who quiets the enemy, not with a fight, but almost as if letting go of a kite?
L - in longing to know, we must love the unknown with Kierkegaard, trembling, and aching for home we leap and discover the light in a stone is the very same light in the heart of a master
M - "master?, what master?", the suicides ask "How am I a slave if I know not my task? How can I love God when I know it's a mask that my own starving mind has created."
N - Napoleon squirms in his watery grave and Nietzsche's convinced that there's nothing to save. he spat on the flowers the poetess gave as she murmured the sonnets of Rilke.
O - Overmen shatter, but archers will go, even though hard the seasons of suffering blow watch how he opens, caresses his bow in the midst of uproarious battle.
P - piercing all shadows with blistering light the arrows flies high through the perilous night love, sent in earnest, will always make right the erroneous aim of its sender.
Q - then what must we make of the stumbling queen who gropes in the firelight for answers unseen? she poisons herself to dismantle the scene that plays and replays in her memory.
R - ravens assemble all over her chair and peck at the riches of rags in her hair tangled in puppetry, courting despair, her play will crescendo to ruin
S - that's when Seymour appears, his lost sister to claim, like the monk at his table, he tells her, "don't aim, how can you see, when you're drowning in shame, the You that is ancient and without a name?"
T - "Tomorrow torments you and time is the terror, a watch is the gift that will torture the bearer. to live is no art - art is for the pretender to live, my dear queen, is an act of surrender."
U - "Undo the divisions a hungry heart makes remember the swans in the uncharted lakes theirs is a silence that slowly unties the veil that for so long has covered your eyes"
V - a veil, she imagined, a veil of lace with patterns the mind wants to frantically chase a veil that, though lovely, obscures the true face of a queen who is yearning to see.
W - who will record the inquiry herein? all of these questions have answers built in Wonder is all, and forever has been the jewel in our cognitive crown
X - sometimes there is simply no need to explain the sexier side of existence is plain delicious it is to know pleasure and pain to court them, but never to marry.
Y - you are the puzzle, you, the perfection you, the miraculous, living reflection of everything vast and beyond feeble sight you are the gravity creature, alight!
Z - like sandbags from magical hot air balloons, we cut at the rope of our fictions and soon, there's a You that is ancient and without a name and zenith and zero are one and the same.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

january blooms

So last weekend was Dance Ontario's big DanceWeekend and I was invited to perform that piece that broke my arm last year (during tech rehearsal for DanceWeekend!). "The speed of our vertigoes" caused great vertigo indeed, over the last year. I performed the work recklessly three days after my cast was removed, then the following week in Germany and two weeks after that in Guelph (on a carpeted floor in an art gallery). My partner, Dennes, went through many levels of distress. Then it was my turn as December 2007 approached and I needed to start rehearsing the work again. My 'stage fright' or nerves have gotten worse and worse as the years go by and now faced with a solo performance on the biggest stage for contemporary dance in Toronto, with a piece that makes me feel immensely vulnerable in its most calm situations, and a history of breaking my arm while dancing it.

The Premiere Dance Theatre stage is fascinating. It looks huge from the house, but tiny when you're upon it. It's ceiling seems to go on forever through a maze of ropes and beams and bars and cross overs and dust. It is a tremendous black cavern when you work with a darkened backdrop. The black velvet absorbs everything so that there is just little old naked you left there.

Larry, the former firefighter now tech at PDT who witnessed my accident last year, opened the curtain to let Samara through the curtain to announce my performance. I stood on my mark, a piece of purple tape marking the space between the callouses on my big toes. Larry dropped the curtain and subtly pumped his right arm at me. The curtains opened. I was immersed in blackness, one long tunnel of light. I could see the footlights of the aisles, but nothing else in the house. The blackness, like when you are trying to see at night, began to reveal its different depths. My first cross to upstage left, the music begins, it jumps a little, the sound cue misses all subtlety, but it's ok. The stage is opening up and is no longer a stage. January blooms a big black velvet flower that buoys me in sparks for the next 15 minutes. I do not fall. I do not even come close. I take two quick bows and let myself hear the cheers from the balcony.

I go to the dressing room and I cry, just a little tiny bit. I have unspooked the vertigo. I take a very hot shower pack up my things and meet Dennes in the lobby. We decide this piece is retiring from the repertoire for a little while so it can take on a new significance that is not related to the breaking of bones or anxiety levels.

We have a drink and some nachos, tradition after Harbourfront Centre performances, at the Boathouse, look at the cold, blowing lake and let it evaporate into history.

Unless, of course, someone offers me a lovely contract to perform it again. No reasonable offer turned down...