Y at SOMAFest – Highways

September 22, 2011

TORONTO, ON — Scientists have found a control switch that regulates stem cell “pluripotency,” the capacity of stem cells to develop into any type of cell in the human body.

The word pluripotency informed my performance of Y at SOMA FestPluripotency  is the potential of a cell to develop into more than one type of mature cell, depending on environment, aka: that the DNA of a cell can fully transform through the living. This term came up through my performance research earlier in the day in Santa Monica as a source for my dancing –  a question to dance with and a knowing, at the same time.

Y (Pluripotency) was also led by by the seasonal element earth, and the great history and environment of the gallery space of Highways, LA. I was inspired to be on top of many many names drawn with marker, as I nestled, sweat, and danced to tunes in my white cell after I painstakingly taped it up. Over the hours I spent warming up into the space with the ebb and flow of the other performers and folks that work there, I came to read over and over and learn many of the names, and realized they were all dead, I am thinking from AIDS because of the famous ones. I read them attentively.

As Arawana Hayashi spoke of the traditional Japanese dance form  she practices, bagaku, she told the story that we in bodies as the living have the ability to resonate the environment with our movement, and stomping on the earth helps the ancestors, considered radishes, grow. In bagaku, to dance is literally to nourish the departed, which in turn supports life. Perhaps this is some other inverted/non-linear/creative link between lineage and pluripotency?

video still by David Gilbert
To watch some video clips of the piece, click here

I wonder about that aspect of alchemy/magic how it is timeless in a way, that through our actions we can shift the past (…..) is pluripotency something like that? I feel that some time when I do my movement practices, I am changing the very roots and connections of my heritage. Moshe Feldenkrais talked about this, and how being mobilized for action, all action, indeed was a kind of being independent of heritage – a terrifying concept and yet an empowering one, at the same time. There are so many perspectives: art, science, sacred. It is a thrill to be able to work with the approaches, curate them, draw from them, and live arts seems to provide some critical space for this synsthesis of epistemologies – dance as poetry as research as….

I wrote this and said it to the crowd before I entered into the cell:

This circle is on top of the earth

The earth here in LA is golden

In this room, the circle covers words written on the floor

They are names of the beloved

who are gone.

Let the names rise.  

Y is a piece of ongoing performance research since 2002. More info here. It is currently a piece that takes place in a big cell, a la Daffy Duck, with a sound score both live or recorded by Kadet. Original 30-second dramaturgy came from George Lugg, whose great idea was to let the circle grow from the wall to take over a whole area and envelop. And mysterious influences by sharing studio space with GT. David Hurwith called the big circle environment classical! Upon request, he gave me a 30-second dramaturgy for this Highways version to help me understand earthness in cells, which he described as a gentle pull that draws the matter-ness/that-which-has-weight within towards the center.


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