Sunday, August 31, 2008

SPCP - Findhorn update

I'm in Findhorn, Scotland. It's gorgeous. Just to give you a little idea:

This is the Universal Hall (our "lab" where we practice every day).

There is heather all over the place. Little purple bubbles dot the landscape.

This is what I saw when I went running through the sand dunes and got terrifically lost on my first day here. Sand dunes next to forest next to more forest and more forest.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, Banquo, "how far is't called to Forres?" Not too far, about 6-8 miles, in fact.

oh, and this is me in London before all this stuff began

Although I'm here - and grateful for the generosity that has made that possible - I'd love to hear from those of you who are receiving this email who didn't contribute financially if you're still interested in contributing (a number of you asked for pesky reminders). If you have already contributed or you're not in a place to do so, please know that this email is NOT a plea for financial help. I am not in some sort of pound/dollar-induced spending crisis or anything like that. Read on to discover why I'm uncouthly asking again:

I've come to discover that the patrons who underwrite this commission function in a really important symbolic way (so, in other words, a totally symbolic $1 would be great, also in kind donations such as studio space usage or bodywork or something else you think might be relevant). Every day when I go into the lab to practice now - and for the months of daily practice to come - I go there with the support of each of the people who contributed to my getting here. Of course, I know regardless of the financial aspect of things, that I have your support as an artist and friend; but it would mean a great deal to me to be able to put your name on the document that I and 19 other dancers will present each and every time this solo is performed. That's really what it comes down to in the end. An amazing record of the people who enthusiastically say, "Yes!" to new and different ways of making art. And "yes!" to the particular artists involved.

Deborah is changing certain aspects of the project. In years past, the contract signed by the commissioners/adapters of this new work required 3 months of daily practice before any public performance. But Deborah has become more adamant about the collaborative/adaptive aspects of this project. In other words, she now insists that each adapter truly adapt the work by creating their own frame - simply practicing and performing the choreography is not enough. In her words:

"I can recognize my choreography when I see a dancer's self-regulated transcendence of her choreographed body within a sequence of movements/images [*] that describes a particular dance."

*NB: I have heard her say it using both of these words

In other words, we - as the adaptors - must edit, add film/costumes/set/music/whatever we need to have a dialog with the work and step up to meet it.

So the terms of the contract may be different this year (it's the 10th year of the project). We began our discussion of these possible changes yesterday - it was quite an interesting conversation, with a lot of different perspectives and experiences of contracts and what they represent among the group.


The work itself.

Where to begin.

I guess I will begin with a couple of the questions.

The questions go like this:

What if every one of the cells in my body can get what it needs in the lab while surrendering the pattern of facing in a single direction?

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 is not less?

What if the depth of the question is on its surface?

We are working with a written choreographic score - I'LL CRANE FOR YOU - and we practice performance with these - and other - questions and ideas to guide us - without the shape of that score and within the shape of that score. Sometimes we practice as a group - the whole group or smaller groups - sometimes and increasingly more right now as the solos they will eventually become.

So, in the micro sense, nothing is fixed. The description of things is set, but the experience and manifestation of them are not.

Aspects of this have made me think of wanting to ask a playwright to write a choreographic score for me and then for me to practice - in this way - with that score. And, of course, they've made me think about Chuck Mee and the physical scores he has written.

Here are some other thoughts:

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.

I'm sure those of you who practice the Viewpoints can chew on that for a while. :)

This is all a lot of fun as well as being impossible. At the end of each day I need a little while to unwind (or maybe re-collect) myself, but then I really do feel incredibly alert and alive and engaged.

Thankfully, we've also got a hottub and in an hour, an apparently decadent Sunday brunch prepared entirely by kids, mostly under the age of 10 (child labor, you ask? No, evidently they love it and it's a community tradition to have the kids prepare brunch). [I wrote this post much earlier today]

So, in conclusion (of this email, if nothing more): thank you all for being who you are and reading/watching/listening/dancing along with me.

If you are a patron of the dance and I do not have your postal address, please send it to me so I can send you a postcard!

If you would like to underwrite the commission, please pledge via email or visit The Field at If you are donating in kind, please give an approximate monetary value to the donation.

For everyone concerned, the amounts will not be made public. Independent Dance, the producing body of this enterprise, does ask that I provide a breakdown of the patronage.



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