This has something to do with ambition, and synchronizing with the movement and gravity of objects. This will be performed as a work-in-progress at Movement Research at the Judson Church on Monday, April 17th, 2017.
Directed, Performed, and Choreographed by: Alicia Grant and Andrea Spaziani
This is an experimental dance documentary. This is a performance for the camera.
Two choreographers are the two directors. And the two subjects.
We are curious about how to jointly inhabit another person and how to inhabit parts of ourselves and parts of the world around us that we have absorbed.
One word: AGGRESSION.
How does is it affect us? How does it move through us? Can we have fun while doing it? What gives us our power? How much violence have we absorbed? What violent acts have we committed?
We tap into ourselves and memories of others. We investigate what happens when we make time and space for aggression, when we set the stage for aggression....
We use the camera as a voyeur, and camera as the vehicle through which we capture the making of. A constant becoming.
Who are we intimidating anyways?
We are asking questions of collectively embodied tight anal sphincters of worry, despair and anger. Clenched jaws and fists that spontaneously erupt.
A dance performance for a camera that is curious about how things are made.
A dance performance that unfolds and meanders and lands on your heart.
A dance performance where the gaze is distinctly undecided, where the view comes softly and suddenly in and out of focus....
Distinctly glamorous and unglamorous, this is a homemade action movie.
Alicia Grant received a BFA in Dance from York University in Toronto, Canada. Her work in performance, video and installation has been presented in Canada, the USA and Europe from stages to swimming pools to gardens to abandoned factories to galleries. She is one part of WITCHTITS, a witch power duo, with Zinzi Buchanan and works in various constellations with other makers in Toronto, Berlin and Zagreb.
She is interested in power dynamics, transformation, fear and intimacy. She works on this through moving, sweating, impossible tasks, durational experiences in saunas, yelling and running around, walking backwards through the woods, OSHO dynamic meditations, dancing to loud pop music, buying party materials, conversations with friends and strangers, reading books on space, cooking, breathing, crystals and fiction from the library, and cellular physical perceptual exercise.
She has received grants from the Canadian Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. She is the Emergent Resident Artist at Dancemakers 2014-2016.
Andrea Spaziani is a Toronto-based choreographer, performer, and MFA candidate at the Transart Institute. She’s interested in the work of perception, and inhabiting the body differently. Recent works have been presented at 100 Grand Dance (NYC), the Dancemakers Research Lab (Toronto), Hub 14 (Toronto), the Toronto Dance Community Love-in, and at www.lonedancer.ca . Her current ‘egregious selfie’ project will be presented at Toronto’s Flowchart in March 2016, and her trio Rafters will be presented at the Citadel in February, 2016.
As a performer she has worked with notable artists such as Heidi Strauss, D.A. Hoskins, and Marten Spangberg. Recent projects include Verbatim Dance Theatre with Catherine Murray, and The Love Project by Meagan O’Shea/ Standup Dance. She is continuing research for her MFA at residences at Hub 14 (Toronto), Uferstudios (Berlin), and EFA Project Space (NYC). She recently published a handbook of choreographic scores entitled Exiting, Re-Existing.
She graduated from Ryerson University in 2005. andreaspaziani.com
I am prepared, and I have no idea what is going to happen.
Ellen, Rob, Amanda, Simon and I are in the Dancemakers studio, starting from inception, seedlings, and the pops of inspiration that freak me out and keep me up at night. So we’re here, chasing that art-allure feeling, and attempting to find ourselves, against the incomprehensibly vast tapestry of outer space, dinosaurs, hyper-empathy, telekinesis, staring into our eyeballs, and all things overwhelmica.
What’s captivating (for me) about this scatter of things is they align a common feeling: a sense of being completely lost in an endlessness that I have no capacity to understand, and at the same time a warm sense of belonging, or feeling located/positioned/found. Turn up the cheeseball rock anthems. We did.
Our emotional playlist for the week is made up of songs that take us to specific times and/or places, past or present. Songs that transport, transcend, illuminate identity, influence outfits, are a bit ironic, completely sincere, and might be good for a facebook share now and again.
Just as that Brandy song helps a person locate him/herself along the continuum, so too does the gaze (in a much more immediate way). When I see you, I see you seeing me. When I see you, I see a representation of you seeing me within a construct of reality. What I see, in you seeing me, is the version of myself I want you to see, consciously or not: woman, white, sister, idealist, pleasant/painfully avoids conflict, doesn’t make too much $, etc. There’s something about this gaze thing and performances that I’m curious about. What’s the allure of sitting in the dark and staring at a representation of some kind? What does that performer keep seeing out there, just past my forehead?
Then there’s empathy, and locating oneself through the perceived experience of another/the other. But the mirror neuron thing seems a bit half there, like we humans could do more to affect our evolution. Mirror neurons don’t stop people from doing heinous things, so why should we expect performances about mirror neurons to change humanity through flexibility demos and pain face? We can do better.
So we’re working something with the gaze, and empathy, on a scale of outer space. Here’s a few hypotheses we've got so far (since this is a research lab, here goes): 1) It is possible to enter the physical sensation of another body, to the same degree of intensity. Locations may vary, and touch is not required 2) Disorientation thrusts a person into the present 3) Unified movements don’t indicate unity 4) Telekinesis is possible, and equivalent to the power of suggestion.
Our starting place feels super personal and self-referential, but the structures aren’t, they’re just structures. We are working with choreographies of opening and closing (the gaze, sensation, joints, spaces between joints, the room, physical perception etc), and building practices of hyper-empathy, cellular exchange through space, and undermining representation,
Armageddon will always trump petty differences.
The best way to ruin an artwork is to explain it.
Perversion of content/ Hierarchy of orifices / Orgy curiosity
This is it. Interpretation monster. A moving breathing thing that is alone and together, changing and static, and extends the awareness of ourselves outward to the group as a whole. We are inside, eyes closed, using a kind of brainy function that inscribes a picture in the room, orients us in space, invents perspective, invites non-visual sense, and invites physical contact, impolitely.
We talk about the choreographer’s power to implement processes that indulge his/her curiosity, and our trained willingness to go there.
We talk about professionalism, sensitivity, taking a sweaty armpit in the face, and why there’s an expectation to be the armpit eating champion. I irreversibly damage my joints for dance. I eat sweat for dance. Dance is my sadistic girlfriend. No more armpit martyrs.
How long could you seriously watch this? Attention span/ pee break / contemplation toilet seat.
Interpretation Monster Part 2
We are amplifying what we think the other person is doing. It is mostly amplification of tickles, sounds, perceived rhythms, and sense.
It is a way of not listening, really.
It is dancing assumptions /talking over each other.
I found a list of basic emotions online – guilt, pride, contentment, amusement, boredom, etc. We decided to make our own list – jolly roger, bear fear, shameful drunkenness, degrassi intimidation, plus. We then made a hieroglyph for each – a static shape, a strong entity, and entirely representational.
We improvised with integrating them into an improvisation. A dance amongst rigid shapes, a balance of movement invention and memory recall.
Here we are, in a regular pattern of shape/move between/ shape, that is some kind of negotiation, something to do with departures and arrivals, and a way of being together. It also seems like a little bit of narrative, but narrative that is in no way related to the emotion associated with each hieroglyph as it was made – a dissociation between making and knowing what we’ve made, or a purposeful subversion of choice. I want to work here.
And we improvise. About what I have no idea, but we are doing something that relies on our polite Canadian brand of communication: sending, receiving, and acknowledging what we’ve received. So it becomes a dance of passing energy, germs, whatever, and something is transferring between us.
Here’s what we learned. Some of it is common knowledge, and none of it is, by any means, scientific or factual, but has been observed at this time in our process.
1) Echoing movements are a way of showing we’ve received whatever’s been sent. Echoing feels like a compassionate acknowledgement of the sender. It also feels engrained, like we’re hard wired for mimesis. It makes for some unison-y moments, or consensus (note unison rules, it calms the nervous system, and makes for pretty copacetic-belonging-dopamine feelings)
2) Sending a message can happen without knowing its recipient, and the message itself doesn’t care if it’s been received. Via the universe, god-ness, bottles at sea, solo performance doc martens, pigeon fanciers, whatever, a stream of signals are sent out all the time, consciously or not. Signals, messages, benign stuff, ‘hope’ that thinks it’s an action but will never be, shameful malignant stuff, etc. And then there’s the unknowable stuff – messages that reveal themselves as such, or come into existence upon their reception, when something resonates back a little. A tree only knows it fell and sent off a noise when something is around to process sound, plug its ears, or dance a jig. If no one hears the noise, frequency and noise are still generated, but the tree will never know how jarringly loud it’s just been.
3) Assuming a message has been received is a possible delusion, like praying for a sign to quit your job, and then seeing a face on a potato chip that gently whispers ‘do-it’. Sometimes we send and receive messages to and from ourselves. Sometimes potato chips give permission.
4) When receiving/interpreting a message, consciously or not, a bank of stuff we know, remember, wish we could forget, etc. is referenced. This bank is built from being alive and encoding all kinds of everything. This is the moment when things are recognized (even things that are “unrecognizable” have qualities) and this is the moment when recognizable things tip into representation, or gha gha gha meaning. Ex, when I see the yellow part of the dance I remember the driveway cracks, my grandfather, forgetting to pay rent, mildewy chesterfields, etc. I fill in the lines from my bank of conventional stuff, idiotic narratives, my white Canadian life, and anything from Homeland Season 2. But what if the people watching this yellow dance reference something they never thought they could know until that very moment when seeing the thing? The dance illuminates knowledge production. Is that possible to make? Can the yellow dance erode somehow, so that it is reminiscent of nothing, but stimulates something? It grabs you and takes you somewhere impossible to foresee, and you don’t even realize until 3 months later when you’re diagnosed with yellow fever. That thing you can’t shake. That affect disease. A little bit of Spangbergianism.
5) In this improvisation, in action, on the day we did it, sending and receiving were the same thing.
So here’s a video of an improv thing with Mike, me, and Julia. Here’s what we’re doing: sending and receiving in an imagined landscape, without ever looking directly at each other. We are chill-unison (together and apart at the same time, attentive to dynamics, not so visually dependent on each other), and in spite of ourselves we’re floaty gushy soft, and there’s lots of tingly energy magnetic stuff between us. I don’t know what this is. When I watch it I try to look at all three people at the same time.
It moment: where something an individual is looking for, consciously or not, arrives at a perfect stillness of harmonious fulfillment in the room. It is personal, unspeakable, and full of that energy magic stuff.
I’m looking into the way people talk about their work, and am inspired by an interview between the CBC and Jim Morrison from 1970. He talks about sexual repression as the first and most effective totalitarian method to enhance the progress of civilization. It got me thinking about progress, and how we seem to be bound for maximum communicative efficiency. 5 texts in one minute is better than 1, and language has become more inclusive of abbreviations, bad grammar, and grunts. In a way, it can be seen as a return to something more primitive. So what’s the most inefficient way of communicating? Maybe dance. Or dance could arguably be the absolute most efficient.
Jim also gets into how embracing cultural heroes has lessened, and our very notion of a hero has changed. He then hypothesizes that the heroes of the future might be: political activists, computer scientists, connectors, and people who have a real awareness of how things are run. Steve Jobs. So, we make a list of qualities of a modern day hero, and try to apply them to a dance phrase. To be continued.
Jim also laments the decline of first-hand experiences with the nitty-gritty of real life in exchange for the 2nd and 3rd hand reproductions found in movies and tv shows. Now it seems this has extended to 2nd and 3rd hand reproductions of ourselves via Facebook and online identities. Fun stuff. So we perform ourselves, to ourselves, which we then consume, share, and build some aspect of our identity around which is then sold and used for marketing research to inform the advertising bar on our very own profile page. Wickedly manipulative and motherfucking brilliant. That said, in the spirit of first hand experiences, we knock back a beer or two and invent the dark chakras of our mediation practice while listening to heavy metal and house. In the spirit of 2nd hand experiences I’m posting this blog about it, and 3rd hand I’ll have to post a video with dark chakra stuff going on.
Me and Mike Hughes, Brendan Jensen, and Julia Male met at Hub 14 and entered a conversation on how to work, and how to make.
We agree to address transparency and continuity throughout rehearsals by way of unedited notes on chart paper, and this blog, but not necessarily in the finished work. We want to provide information as to how we make the thing we make, but not offer a translation into what it ‘is’ or assume any kind of way to look at it, experience it, or feel it.
We set the tone in the room as a place of imagination, invention, and the simultaneous respect and disregard for conventional definitions, facts, and science in exchange for inventing our own, born from our practice in the studio, and letting meaning reveal itself to us.
We will look for content, questions, and direction from the depths of a meditation practice of our own making. This meditation aligns areas of the body with a colour, shape, sensation, anatomical relationship, environment, and disposition of our choice. We agree to begin each rehearsal with this practice as a way of coming together, modifying our state of awareness, and initiating a kind of unnamable connectivity. We have temporarily permitted ourselves to become pseudo-scientist-hippy-chakra-choreographers.
This makes me think about our willingness to rediscover what we may already know but haven’t identified, or what we could potentially produce as a new kind of knowledge from the depths of our curiosity, experience, and hanging out with friends in a completely unproductive manner. I love facts and science, but perhaps they get too much credit in shaping our perspectives, our position in the world, and what is valid or worthy of our attention. At this point, it’s much easier to look something up on Wikipedia than imagine its definition. So, we begin by challenging ourselves to imagine.
There is a practice of corrupting old as new Science
Not a science of time and space, but timespace
Of an anatomy between bone and some other wet cell
In between think and do and doing
when do has always already happened
and think is a proud hickey hidden under spacesuits and high collars
and doing tries to be Is.
It is choreography of whenever
It is for letting whatever happen
But whenever whatever happens
there is a singular harmonious meeting in timespace that u never knew
‘Making Black Holes’
It might be familiar and at the same time unknow-ed
It is void, without voidness, only with
like the Forever Space that surrounds
a lone dancer at some
indie pop trash show
What is left in between is a negotiation of
the physics of social gravity
and the relentless desire to not be categorized
but the urgency
to take off all your clothes and dandy dance dance dddddd together.
It is light travelling from so far away that the source no longer exists
l i g h t d o e s
between your eyes doing seeing
and whatever pushed the light into timespace
that is both now and in the past
It asks nothing except
be way longer
A pinkyshiny solitude for bigdecisionmaking
or a reminder to look at Neptune from time to time.
It is not a collision
but a meeting
the forces of the universe
a glitter harness with faux leather stirrups.