Sunday, September 28, 2008


This afternoon my mother and I saw this rather remarkable performance by a Norwegian company called Verdensteatret. I don't really want to describe it, but I do want to say:

it was quite mysterious, defying most sense-and-narrative-making while engaging the senses in a deep and inescapable way.

I dug it a lot.

practicing with achilles tendonitis

My cycling adventure the other day has ... blessed? me with my first - and hopefully only - experience of achilles tendonitis. I probably raised my saddle a little too high and overtaxed my achilles over the course of the long ride. I'm being as generous and kind to my achilles as I know how to be and it will, in turn, hopefully heal swiftly and without too much difficulty.

While walking is a bit of a pain, practicing I'LL CRANE FOR YOU with this new limitation is actually a gift in disguise. It has helped me to discover that practicing in the living room is a secret treasure. I initially found the smaller space troublesome after the expansiveness of the Universal Hall; but now I realize that the living room is more than enough.

Less is more, not less.

Monday, September 22, 2008

on practicing

Practicing continues and one of my fantastic patrons has offered me studio space one day a week! Hooray! Plus I've been moving furniture around to make more room in the living room. And next week I start training again with SITI so hopefully I'll be able to get in a practice session before we train every morning.

In other news, in case you were wondering: a sheep-poop covered mountain top in Yorkshire with freezing winds and sweaty hikers all around you is NOT a great place to practice the dance. Glad I figured that one out.

I thought practicing outside would be really liberating, but I can't say that it has been the joyous experience I anticipated, especially when I had to watch out for uneven surfaces and animal feces. But then again, it's a mistake to think that this whole enterprise is about joyous experiences.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

my body likes rest and play

I've finished reading Deborah's My Body, the Buddhist (gorgeous text - go and read it immediately) and I am taking my inspiration from her chapter titles.

I've worked out suitable places to practice for about three of the five hours of practice per week - still looking for more options that are not the living room or a concrete-floored and/or outdoor and/or public place.

Meanwhile, today I am stretching my body - particularly my right leg - back to a state of ease and calm after completing my longest single-day bike ride yesterday. Somewhere around 112-114 miles, give or take (not sure how long my detour was). It was an ambitious undertaking after being off the bike for the full duration of my trip to the UK. I was moving like molasses by the end - lots of achilles pain, which makes me think I may have had my saddle too high - but I did it. And then I hopped - filthy and aching - on the 1 train to ease my way home.

I found some journal entries from Scotland and England that I meant to post to the blog. I'll take care of that later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a photo from Findhorn

Karl, our man in Findhorn, showing us the ice age landfill (at least, that's what I think is happening here) during our lovely walk on the beach

Monday, September 15, 2008


on the plane at Heathrow, feeling contemplative

in the bath, feeling at home

I am river

"I am river" - that's what it says on the front of the card I bought from The Phoenix Shop at the Findhorn community ecopark.

I've been meaning to excerpt parts of a letter to my friend I wrote inside the card for over a week now, but I just haven't spent enough time in front of the computer to do so.

I am soon to depart for New York - 6:30 pm flight from Heathrow - and before I do, I'll take a moment to type some of the contents of the letter into my blog.

I wrote it on September 6 on the train from Forres to Kyle of Lochalsh.


My train has just pulled into Strathcarron Station and "Third Self-Portrait Series" from Music for Egon Schiele (an album by the fantastic Rachel's) has just come on my iPod. When I look up from this card I see something close to perfection. Sheep. Shrubs. Pine trees. Rock face. Little pools of clear water. Adorable country houses. No, it is perfection. It's the real deal.

Sitting on the table next to the Lonely Planet guide I borrowed from my friend and dancing cohort Rebecca is Deborah Hay's MY BODY THE BUDDHIST.

I want to share some of the questions that are - from Deborah - shaping (or maybe "unshaping") my dancing right now. But first! Just to let you know, Stephin Merritt and his ukulele have taken over since I started writing, then passed the musical torch to Rhianna, and now, in hardly any time at all, "Water From the Same Source" has taken command and I'm less than 100 feet away from a beautiful loch or river.

WHAT IF "What if where I am is what I need" is not an examination of what I need but an examination of the question "What if where I am is what I need?" What if less is more not less?

WHAT IF my choice to surrender the pattern of fixing on a singularly coherent idea, feeling, or object when I am dancing is a way of remembering to see where I am in order to surrender where I am?

with love from the Scottish Highlands,

I am river.
I see the sea
as I flow
and know
to where
my heart belongs

(a card picturing the River Findhorn)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

there is, as usual, much blogging to be done

and I'm not going to do it now.

I will, however, post this lovely photo taken at Offline - my friend Mike's gig night in Brixton - last Thursday.

Back to NY tomorrow.

I'm definitely ready - my body is ready to be back in NY, but I've also just met a whole wonderful slew of people out here whom I'm only just getting to know. And Val will be out here in a few weeks. And I love living in Caspar's flat.

I love it so much that I'm nearly falling asleep as I type this entry from the sofa. When I used to come to London in the late 90s and early 00s it was routine for me to see the sunrise on a Sunday morning. Not so much anyore. Except last night. One side of Southwark bridge was the moon, the other side the pulpy, settling juicy sunset.

On that note, (in)coherent as it may be, we sleep

Thursday, September 11, 2008

on the train again

There is much blog updating to be done. I'm on a train from Leeds to London right now. I've been hiking (and successfully hitchiking! Pretend you didn't read that, mom!) on the Isle of Skye and in the Yorkshire Dales, driving through the highlands and spotting Scottish children's television celebrities (well, okay, one celebrity), listening to music in Leeds, dancing in the rain in the Glasgow Botanic Garden, and skinny dipping at midnight in a swimming pool in Ingleton.

I have some writing from my journal that I'll put up here when I have the inclination.

I hope the postcards have reached their destinations.

This afternoon I'm meeting my friend Caspar to check out his baby brain lab at Birkbeck College and this evening I'll be in Brixton at a fun, free music event organized by my friend Mike. A friend I met in Brazil who now lives in Amsterdam should be in London this evening too - it's going to be a pretty packed day!


Thursday, September 04, 2008


I just read Bondo's blog, which is kinda crazy since he's sitting about 5 1/2 feet away from me, but I was reminded today of Anne B's (that's Bogart, not Annie-B Parson [just in case you were going there for some reason]) description of what she wants from going to the theater vis a vis going to the movies.

If I were super on the ball I'd quote her directly, but it basically amounts to wanting to sit back and have it all come to her in the movies and to lean forward in her seat and meet the work/enter into it in the theater (that's my take on it, anyway).

And I was thinking this morning about the difference between mystery and befuddlement.

There's mystery, which Deborah implores us to cultivate and which enables an audience member to lean forward and engage - meet the work and behold the infinite possibilities. And makes it possible - indeed inevitable - that one audience member's perception will be different from the perception of another's. And then there's linearity, which often demands that the audience think or feel a certain way. And then there's utter and incessant confusion and/or overanalysis - the state of the audience being caught up in trying to figure out what's going on and just going, "What is this? I can't find a way in!"

and with that, I am off to make dinner or walk on the beach or figure out where on the Isle of Skye I will go in a couple of days.

So, yep, Skye's where I'm headed before I return to London.

something else

We often practice as a group without doing I'LL CRANE FOR YOU - just practicing with the questions, practicing performing...just effin' dancing.

And those times are SO joyous and explosive and amazing and FUN.

And I said to myself and to Deborah today: "Why doesn't my solo feel like this? Just even a few moments of the incredible possibility and freedom of the group practice with music in my solo would make it so much more fun?"

Do you know what she said?

"It's No Big Deal. Remember that. In your practice in particular I think this will prove very helpful to you."

In a matter of just a few days I went from practicing and learning and noticing the feedback all around me to practicing and learning and noticing and judging, which I think is premature. Maybe inevitable. And maybe where you ultimately want to go when the adaptation comes into play.

But Deborah pointed out to me that she's been doing this work for 38 years. I've been doing it for 8 days.



In the interest of surrendering the pattern of facing a single direction and also just because I can't really be arsed, as they say, to construct a more coherent piece of prose, I am not going to write this entry in a linear fashion. But, of course, just by saying that, I've already started creating a cogent and repeatable line in the space that is the internet. But if you change your perception of it as you're reading this, you'll realize that within the writing there are many, many non-linear possibilities as well.


Conversation turned to some refining and, appropriately, blurrying of the details of the actual shape of I'LL CRANE FOR YOU. Which parts of the score in terms of spatial relationship are fixed, which are being removed, which are entirely open to the performer.

Deborah also mentioned something like: remember that nothing is repeatable and everything is actually new. When you're performing rep, I presume, or, in my experience, an 8 show week, this perception of novelty is essential - this recognition that, in fact, despite superficial appearances or your best efforts as a performer to stick to the choreography established, what you do in today's performance is not and cannot possibly be the same as what you did in yesterday's (and that's to say nothing of anyone else who may be involved!).

It's astonishing to me how easily one can forget to perceive the newness when faced with the burden of needing to create something new. And so much of this work is about surrender, but not, to quote one of my cohorts, "a kind of beatific surrender" - more like, to quote another, "a submission". A maintenance of tension while at the same time letting go - noticing and letting go. The practice of presence and performance, not the practice of physical virtuosity or making up songs or stories or entertaining an audience (though, certainly, all of those things may be involved).

The simplest things can be so hard.

I am quoting what I wrote in my notebook based on what Deborah said here:

living and dying at once ---> aha nada


My friend and yoga teacher sent me this tidbit in an email:

"I am not showing anybody anything, I am inviting being seen in the practice of performance.

What if how I am seeing changes me? ---> This is something of great interest. In attempting to expand my visual field and to see on a 'cellular level' I have come to think about seeing as something that engages and encompasses all the senses. If every cell of my body is involved in the act of seeing, than the act of seeing involves all the functions of my body."

(the above is taken from my blog and below from her email)

"BKS Iyengar talks about this alot - in reference to our ability to use our senses stronger, better. It's what John simply calls "sensitivity" within Opening to Grace.
Iyengar says "develop eyes in each of the cells of your body, so when you turn inward on this Journey (he always capitalizes it), you have millions if not trillions of eyes
from which to work".

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

workplaytimespace continues

I've performed the solo as a solo three times now. Deborah does such an amazing job of, among other things, easing us into what it will be like for the next few months of practicing. We will not be in beautiful Findhorn, we will not have the group - "the lab" - to inspire and support us, we will have all the responsibilities and inspirations and fatigue and dimensions of the rest of our lives. And chiefly we will have ourselves - alone - in a studio/apartment/park/abandoned parking lot/etc and the choreography and the questions.

I had a big "aha!" today, which manifested itself variously in the forms of joy and freedom and a feeling that I'd figured something out, only to discover, of course, that I hadn't and was boring myself and was working so hard at seeing that I could barely see what I was doing at all.

This paradox a good thing, I think.

It was a day of frustration and exhaustion for many, concluded with an absolutely transcendent and hilarious performance by one member of our group. She couldn't escape her own critical eye, but she really shifted the cloud - a beautiful, billowing, magnificent cloud, but a cloud nonetheless - that had descended upon me.


Last night we went for a walk through the dunes and onto the beach. Karl, an utterly lovely man whose organization Bodysurf coordinates our work here, showed us an area that had been essentially an Ice Age landfill/garbage dump. It's also the spot where local youth presently go to party and so it's littered anew with bits of broken beer bottles. Of course, many are saddened by the debris, but others hold the view that it's simply a continuation of a human utilization of the land that began 12,000 years ago.

The sand felt like marbles ground and melted into a cool, dense foam. Sensational experience to walk in it. I went for a dip in the glorious ocean as well - very refreshing (and made the subsequent hot tub soak that much more enjoyable).

We went to one of the pubs in the village of Findhorn for some tasty food and I sampled the local whisky, Benromach (a single malt made in Forres). It was mild and smooth.

I'm meeting with my Dutch and Luxembourgish (?) cohorts this evening to sing for a while before we surrender to the temptation of the hot tub once more.

I have more to say about the work with Deborah, but it'll have to wait!