Static + Lyrical

December 19, 2010

Static: I recently spent time in NYC, where it was East Coast winter cold. With the dry heat inside the buildings and the blasts of winter outside, my skin parched, and there was a specific self-awareness associated with being wrapped by the environment. Sardine Saran Wrap Action Art. I was wearing a hat a lot and dealing with all my layers of clothing, and it produced a kind of rub: static. I was interested in this sensation and began to see it as an emerging theme, a phenomenon. I found a new aspect of static – how it related to a sense of intimacy and further on the continuum, uncomfortable closeness. Static arose in the rubbing and frottage with clothes and people. Was walking the streets with Margot Lystra on a search for a site so there was a lot of being in the cold. Uncharacteristically, was taking dance classes and being in physical contact with strangers in that dance-class-way, so static came alive and something to pursue as a phenomenon and as an inquiry.

When I reflect on it more, the contrast between the privacy and autonomy of being anonymous on city streets seemed to give rise to the power of the openness of dancing in class (K.J.Holmes’, Jennifer Monson’s) – a kind of rub between worlds. And that way that in NYC people just approach one another and speak and interact is a kind of pressing through the shell; the boundaries have this particular permeability which the City engenders, and the incredible power of the city with its patchwork nature – the edges – allows for openings, but to access you need to make an impact. Better to push in through it masterfuly, the doors open easily that way.

As I sit here this morning back in Cali, I am aware of what it means to be closer or farther from someone psychically, about pushing and retreating with words and deeds, about rubbing into someone’s way because it feels good, because it’s propensity, because of its potential implications.

Last night I saw a group improvisation coordinated by Nancy Stark Smith with a whole slew of incredible performers and the theme that came up for me was how the work made visible lyrical-ness and static. I could speak about so much last night, but here is where a big lens is right now. I am rare to critique performance online as a dancer myself, so I am trying to figure out a way to write about this that will be true to my experience  from the place of honoring the beauty of the work and effort and heart that the people brought to the stage- I would like that to be imbued in any description that follows.

Lyrical: My sense of this term is that it is a kind of quality that implies narrative, enthusiasm, emotion. When I take some time with the felt sense of the word, more arises (….. is a symbol for felt sense). There is a kind of implicit joy, connection, and flow. Lyricism in my ….. implies a kind of distance for the viewer since we are watching a way. The gentleness and soft body listening that are so useful in Contact Improvisation can invoke this lyricism, as can group togetherness. Does lyrical also imply a shared comfort? A far-off trumpet saying yes to a sunrise….. just what I get.

The rich complexity of the dances in the night’s work gave so much to see and follow, and then there was this rub, so interesting to watch it arise!

As I watched the show, and even more specifically, as I tracked my interests and view, I became aware that in the big group improv there was an implicit quality to the movement realm. This was made very clear by watching Abby Crain in the piece, who didn’t seem to buy into the implicit construct. Of course there was a large range of movement quality, and because there were so many dancers, everyone brought their unique ways, and that was very incredible to follow and feel. And from my seat, I saw Abby working with some same tools -listening, CI, ensemble thinking, and yet there was also another layer of observation in addition, where she would confront, rub – basically it was an instantiation of the static I had been experiencing, in another form. It grew throughout the piece. The static pierced through the lyric. (As they say, what you see inextricably linked to how you do it).

There are ways to enter dancing that make one enter into the flow of It. In my own experience with CI, I may or may not want to choose that. There are consequences for each and every action we take, and as we move through the world, we are strengthening our own habituation and resolve and identity. Pretty amazing the poignancy of the power of action! I say all this because sometimes in Contact I find the incredible lyricality to be a balm for my state, and through doing it I change into new forms, new energies; other times it rubs me and I rub it; and other times still, I can work within whatever frame I am given and find my navigation, thereby mutual change, and possible commune. I saw all of those and more last night.

To see the rub made the lyrical so clear.


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