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?