Am I investigating process or am I making a dance? Is this research process leading to a dance accidentally or intentionally?
Is the dance just there so that I can look at process? What is process when it’s separate from its product? Does that even exist? …Once you have a process you are conjuring something.
I’ve seen countless dances that are about the making of the dance (and novels about writing novels etc…) Which makes sense. Making is at the forefront of your mind while you are making especially if your process includes an awareness of the present – of the full picture. If you are open to what is going on, that becomes a large piece of the work.
For me the question of making is quite present right now. But when I am alone in the studio the louder voice is the question of being. Who am I when I am alone? What is the context? Who am I in relationship to everything that has come before me?
Where this project falls in my life is significant:
I started my dance company 7 years ago, while pregnant with my son Simon. I essentially birthed twins: a company and a son. For anyone who has ever run a non-profit or raised a child you know that both are things you never clock out of. You live and breathe them. So my relationship to self changed. And my time alone evaporated without me realizing it. The projects I initiated through my company were highly collaborative and included a matrix of performers and designers. My personal decisions were made in collaboration with my husband as we began rearing this amazing being together.
So here I am seven years into this twin rearing initiating a project for myself that requires that I stand alone: Alone in the studio, alone on stage, alone in front of a group of dancers.
I’m sitting with myself and noticing the shifts that have occurred under my feet, without me realizing it. And then certain personal information stirs around in my brain. Sensations that I didn’t sit still long enough to notice before. Personal feelings that are connected to details unique to me but rooted in sensations that are universal: feelings are about motherhood and past. We all come from a mother and we all move forward from a past: I’ve become fascinated by what we carry with us, what we discard, what we bury. (An earlier blog outlines the ways I’m investigating this a bit: Mother and the Achitecture of Memory)
Why this project and why now?
When writing to fund this research project it seemed like a good way to push me to discover some new things: Seven years into my life as an artistic director of NCDC I wanted to shake things up and try a new way of working. Or in some ways return to an old way of working and see what it felt like. Adding Wendy to the process would give me an experienced voice to talk to as I came in contact with the unknown. Adding Wendy would force me to try new things, to learn from someone outside of my community.
Wendy was essentially a blind date mentor. And I had no idea if we would get along as people. I loved her work so it was a risk I felt worth taking.
Where I am in my life and where this project falls is a big part of the project and the process. It is part of the struggle and the fodder for making the work. But need it be the content for the work? I don’t know. When I wear it as a solo it is a bit terrifying. When I bring it to the group of dancers I can look at it with more distance – abstract it – let it run and evolve.
For me art and life are intertwined but that can mean so many things. The energy of the room of collaborators becomes a microcosm of ways humans relate in general and feeds the direction of the work on many levels.
When alone in a solo my own story rises to the surface. I want to run with that but I do wonder why would anyone need to know my story? But at the core of my story lies the basic struggles of humanity. And this story can lead into a research of the formal structures to carry the story… the formal structures that in a way speak volumes above the details of my days.