Pig-Body

Using the practice of continuity of the discontinuity, I write an irregular expression of my experience as a performer, researcher and student in the workshop ‘Being A Pig: a questionable formula for the practice of dance’ in Austin Texas November 2017. Italics represents Deborah Hay's directions, mostly. 

I am a midnight swamp. A darkened gap in the pavement. A researcher by action, not by book.

Beside the creek, I walk. Turning over the many mantras instilled in me by the work of Deborah Hay.

What if every single cell in my body was served not by what I see but by how I am seeing? Let’s presume that how I am seeing is the whole body at once being served. And what if being served is seeing with the whole body.

The walk becomes holy. The encounters are fresh and interruption is food for the perception. I am nourished by my own character of choosing to shift/turn/release. I am nourished by seeing, rather than seeking. I am not fixed.

What if the space between the body and the physical structures that surround the body- walls/doorknob/other-body/fracture in the wooded floorboards- is abundance?

The walls are white. Shadows make dark angles from window tops. A fading stripe is drawn on the wall and moves as the day does. It’s line is a deception. It’s line is filaments collecting to crowds of shadow. A crack in the white. Black smudged to grey to blend it away, but the scar delights. The texture is a rumbled silk, lifting and falling like a sea of subtle mountains. An electrical outlet. Five of them. A ceiling of wood with orbs that keep like fireflies when the sun is hiding. The glass is cool on skin, portals outside of the laboratory- sliced rectangles, like photographs in motion. Air fills wall to ceiling to floor, keeping the room from collapsing on itself.

The space is never empty: Dividing how you are seeing into smaller and smaller increments- shifting in and out of near, mid-range, far and continually turning the head so as to not fix on anything.

I notice holding places that I grab onto, patterns that anchor me. I discontinue them : blink more, relax the eyes, turn your head. Freshness surprises. A ‘catastrophic loss of former behavior’ ensues. In this practice, there is nothing to ‘get’, but the satisfaction of working diligently towards the impossibility of being interested in here.

I engage in impossible tasks daily, in order to practice the deep ethics of optimism (paraphrased from Zara Houshmand).

I look down at my hands under the arms of trees, and am so overwhelmed by the magnitude at which they have served me- that I break down into fractions of tears.

In the morning we eat toast, and the sun spills from my fingertips. He asks me why, why does the sun spill from my fingertips. I reply a great abyssal sigh. Why does one ask such funny questions, when instead of answers the want is to have sight for the sun-spill of your own.

To perform is to remain dis-attached with what I am doing and gaining supreme interest in the abundance of how I am perceiving. This perception shift is serving every single cell in my entire body and in turn I am learning from the deep intelligence in the body.  To perform is ‘to try and interest people in seeing themselves’ through a mirror image of observing a performer being supremely interested in their own seeing. It is not to show, but ‘to practice using the tools’ to stay interested in what you are doing. ‘The performer is so much more than what she is doing.’

The body is a school building. She takes you to her picture book whose pages turn in strokes of memory.The body moves because she sucks the marrow of the room through a straw. In her mouth it spreads through vein + blood.

The whole body at once, the teacher.

Creating a language around the intelligence of the body.  Translation of movement to word:   

Skin peels away from tautness and hangs from my bones, relaxes finally. I am inundated with an ocean of surprise.  My joints are popping as I glacially exercise the insides of my body through this dance.  My seeing is a feedback loop for the movement of my body. My hip swivels in a strong right curve and its’ prominent presence surprises me, paused far away from neutral. I collapse and expand my chest and my chin follows grazing the massive air caressing my entirety. A repetitive and minuscule shrug echoes from my shoulders and ripples through the body- this informs my head to turn and my seeing to shift. My feet float on the ground, lilies on water. In the middle of the dance I lose the questions- daily tasks swim in my thoughts. Reinsert question. Continue. Jaw melts to the ground and eyes open in wideness. Arm blocks vision and each hair is noticed- room split in half. Acute awareness of body in space and a choice to see in ways that serve the practice.

Slumping

My experience as performer in ‘Tree Time’ choreographed by Erika Senft Miller, October 2017. 

Twists of uncertainty stretched throughout me as I lay my body in the cold, grey gravel.

The score was simple,

An orderly mix of extraordinarily slow and viscous transitions between vertical arms’ grasp around horizontal branch. An hour and a half of endurance was set.

Sustenance for this conglomeration were fragments of practiced Alexander Technique, working to stand with pain, while experimenting with unconditioned methods to alter the discomforts. Minute shifts: physical, mental.

I noticed first the tree above me.

The leaves looked black and formless- paper cutouts in the yellow sky, their multitude creating an empathetic pattern.  Delicate motion from a business of tiny flies, added to the softness of my only subject of vision.

These images added to my confidence in my own endurance, I sunk into the score.

I noticed sounds, mostly. Wood being stacked, the uncensored noise of children, sidewalkers’ unprepared inquiry, commentary from purposeful witnesses.

These sounds and images were sparse. The score was simple in physical requirement. This allowed for a meditative automaticity, A kind of vacuum state-of-being. All Bareness and disappearing, I felt pain growing in my low spine, like an orb.

Time was Up. collapsed into itself, in surreal fluidity.

On wavering legs I rose from our Slumping.

My body was like a cloud, just then. Walking, like floating. Gradually I fell back into myself.  It occurred to me that I felt bigger.

It was dark,  there was barely anyone left at the opening. A few stragglers shuffled about the building- congratulating. The room was glaringly bright, for my dark accustomed eye.

The feast was gone. A few grapes and squares of unnaturally orange cheddar littered a plate on a giant empty table. A silver warmer with a few cups of hot cider left.

I wasn’t hungry, but this struck me:

The drastic reduction of hors d’ vours sparked the realization that many, many witnesses had observed Slumping, and I had no concept of them or their connection to the piece.

Performers were in position to see only sky, and experience complex inner passages, a vulnerable place to be seen, while not seeing.

Witnesses had a multitude of options for perspective point, each having their own personal experience with the observation of us.

To be seen, but not to see. To be witnessed in internal navigation.

Who were you, witnesses?

What did your eyes speak as you laid them upon the collection of our tree-bodies?

What is the immensity (or minuteness) of observing eight bodies threading through hallways of their habits, loosening them?