artist statement

I am not a whore in the traditional sense. I want to give everything for free. I want to give everything. I want to give it to you, even if you do not want it. I need to give this to you,
Now. Because it matters.

My work is silent but loud. I want to gently strip away your skin and touch you underneath. I want to insert a needle, or maybe a thorn from a flower.
How do you feel?
Please tell me.
These dances come to existence from a need to speak, to ask, to participate. The form that they take is the form that offers itself for me to find a way in. I am looking for a way in, into your mind, your body. The work is created in our meeting. It does not exist without you.
I make work to understand the world around me, to make sense of what may have none. I dance to map what otherwise is incomprehensible to me. I am attempting to see the world through a poetics of the body, which is to feel and to be felt.
My work asks what is important. What do we care about? What were the choices that brought us here? They are questions I ask of myself, and I try to lie less every time I answer. I go towards discomfort, because it is a mobilizing force. I place naïveté above cynicism: it does not make me look good but it helps me see what is here. I move in a guise of confusion, of embarrassment and not knowing, because the constant reminder of how little I understand forces me to actually learn.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

performing Touch at CCN Nancy, France, Feb 13th

i decided to do this in french because it was important that people understand what i say. i felt hesitant because i had no time to meet with our translator before the show, because he was in rehearsal with the ballet. so i did my own little translation and hoped for the best. realising how the context of performance suddenly makes me want to speak in correct form, to have the right words in the right order, although when i just talk with somebody i'm happy to just be understood.
this made me think of two things,
one: why do i want to be more proper on stage than i actually am?
two: having the task of making myself understood in french completely took away the stress and nervousness i sometimes relate with performing. and this was a very good thing.

i introduced the piece and asked the whole audience to take their shoes off and take a seat in a big circle on the stage. i had some chairs, but there was way too much audience to fit them all on the chairs, and i apologized for that. to my surprise most of them went to sit on the floor, and many of the chairs i had hunted throughout the theatre were left unused. they made a very large circle. i felt relaxed, the whole space changed, and the audience who left their seats became a different kind of social group, they suddenly had connection with each other. i liked that part, it felt very important considering the whole piece, even though i had never thought about it before. i just wanted people in a big circle on the stage. but the action of leaving their seats, taking off their shoes and coming up there created a shared experience and an intimate one between them, which felt like a major part of the piece.

s'il vous plaît, fermez les yeux.


mettez votre attention à les sensations sur votre peau.
comment se sent-elle?
qu'est-ce que vous sentez?
les mouvements de l'air?
les materiaux de vos vetements?
vos cheveux?
est-ce qu'il y a les endroits vides, sans sensation?

imaginez, mais faites pas.
imaginez, comment sentirait-il toucher la paume d'une main avec l'autre.

et puis, touchez la paume d'une main avec l'autre.
comment est-ce qu'elles sentent?

cette piece,
je vous invite venir me toucher.
toucher en quelque façon que vous voulez.

s'il vous plaît, dites-moi de m'arrêter, avant que je cours dans quelqu'un, avant qu'il y a une collision,
parce que je ne peux rien voir.

vous puovez aussi dire les autres de s'arrêter, si vous voyez quelque chose qui vous trouvez mauvais.

quand vous voulez voir, pouvez-vous ouvrir les yeux.

i did not use the sound score, the time was too short for it to work. but i sang a song towards the end of the piece, the west coast of finland ballade ...allt under den linden så gröna. i had been singing it during our residency at PAF, and Donna Faye had suggested i use it instead of Quand je serais vieille, because it brought to her the sensation of suspended falling. it worked for me.
i was surprised by the amount of touches, i did not expect so many.

it is a weird study of vulnerability - i feel that even though i am blindfolded and look vulnerable, i am still very much in control of the situation. i am manipulating the space and the audience. they are the ones who feel the discomfort, if nobody comes up to touch me and nothing happens. and they are the ones to feel the responsibility to take care i don't hit things, and the responsibility to stop the action if something feels inappropriate or bad to them. yet they are in a group. they can always wait for someone else to do or say something, but they are also witnessed by each other in that action. how long to wait before acting yourself? maybe the dancer already hit the light tree because everyone waited for someone else to warn her, and everyone is left feeling guilty? yes, i am really manipulating them.

but how far is that from any performance, or, any social situation in life?
what if someone kills herself on stage, when do we stop her?
we feel the responsibility to intervene in things that happen around us, and maybe we wait for someone else to do something, or maybe we choose to convince ourselves that we did not see or hear anything, and negotiate how we deal with the guilt, because of course we saw and we heard. like, how many blocks do i walk in NY until i have to turn back and go check if the homeless person lying on the street is hurt or just sleeping?

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