See video http://bleedtereoconnor.org/?p=310
As mentioned earlier, in Dance 2, I am immersing myself in the formalism, artifice and complexity that have naturally occurred in my work over the years (and that I love.) I have quickly arrived at the structuring moment for this dance. My structures are usually very capricious. Paradoxically, for this to register, I feel I need to reign in their free-associative fluidity, something I hold dear. I know that sounds contradictory and I wonder if other makers of dances or any other time-based forms, feel that kind of contradiction. (I’d love to hear about it.) This contrast between freedom and control is visible in the art community right now through the present obsession with dance in gallery and museum settings, raising questions around time as shaped by the author or by the viewer. A pressure between the durational and the calculated is being meted out in these different types of venues and their particular functions. This distinction of author or viewer has always been an internal tension shaping the structures in my work. Viewers create themes in a dance that I am not in control of so how can I structure that? They might remember or linger on moments that I see as transitory. They might feel that some element deserves development that I haven’t even identified as an element.
After my second dance Learning Sentences in 1984, I abandoned the idea that someone could “read my message.” I began to toil away at making structural networks that might subvert rationalist time frames, no matter what the subject. I wanted to understand choreographic structure as a temporal terrain where content is destabilized as it is sucked into sinkholes of rhythm or crescendo or dynamic shift or any other sort of time tool that deemphasizes definition.
Certain elements have been born in this rehearsal period so far: complexity to the point of convolution, episodic striations and design hallucinations. These elements are pushing my structural considerations.
One aspect of dance that I feel is accidentally borrowed from theater or novels and exerts great pressure on a choreographer is the idea that “scenes” are being enacted and building towards something. In my experience I have been deeply changed by the formidable power which dance possesses to disarm the denotative. It suggests that I need to find ways to allow for sections or episodes to be perceived in striation, like layers of the earth or like transparencies, one over the other, constructing a product that has its own presence, revealing traces of each layer even as it erases them with its newness. Creating these transparent memory striations is a desire that isn’t always reachable but it nonetheless creates an active friction against the primacy of “narrative” sequencing in the construction of time in a dance.
Due to the nature of generating movement material, “sections” get created that are seemingly autonomous but are really just a consequence of the process; a register of one day. I have to shuffle these around, expand them and make relationships between all the materials created to find out how they interact. As I am doing this, I see new relationships and begin to work on connections and dissonances between the sections.
This moment generates many things. It helps me edit for duration. It helps me see how a movement area that had great import inside of a “section” does not endure in an overview of the work AND how the same structure of realization I had about it could occur for a viewer depending on how I reveal its parts in the chronology of the final work. This concept of braided chronologies is important for me; the chronology of making braided with the chronology of the final structure. Sometimes when placing highly contrasted sections next to each other, I make more material that blends them and often the blended material becomes something more potent than both.
Right now I am doing all of these, and a new element, a kind of design hallucination is evolving. I am very interested in design on earth; what human beings create and how a certain artisanal level of activity, perhaps devoid of explicit message nonetheless reveals tacit statements from the soul. I am allowing for moments that look like they are working towards meaning construction to be overwhelmed by a storm of byzantine choreographic calligraphy. It feels like the work itself acts as a being and begins to daydream and obsess over one element, losing track. The piece becomes a giant baby who misses the teaching moment in a game with its mother because it becomes entranced by the ceiling fan sensing that it is a better register of the present.
In this dance, like some of my earliest work there are very abstract moments where movement takes the foreground, softly insisting to be read on its own terms. On the other end are little vignettes or groupings that suggest something about community or ritual. They seem to suggest an “event” or something about the future of this work that will be significant. I think they gain this prophetic attribute out of an internalized value system that places legible content in a higher place than kinesthetic reading: landing on one of the vignettes MUST have more meaning than dancing because it moves towards identification. I try hard to create a balance of these realms, attempting to place the viewer in a limbo between naming and rumination. But I want to take it beyond a binary discussion so by structuring mosaics or layers instead of linear pathways I may be able to circumvent the polarity.
My work becomes difficult when areas that I have stubbornly rejected show up again. I feel attracted to these storied moments sometimes and I want to stay super conscious about what is leading to my structural decisions. Am I secretly sharing some story and its attendant emotional world, one that only I know? Or do I believe in the expansive nature of dance which can include story in the larger machinery of knowing. The older I get the more I find that meditation on the questions that arise through process can truly foster action. It is so easy and cliché to say that dance is more about questions than answers, but it has been true and functional and dare I say, spiritual in my practice. An important distinction is how deeply one goes into the questions and how they turn into process catalysts. The questions aren’t looking to be answered. It is more that they act like answers without ever arriving at the categorical.
I imagine some of this needs answers for you reader or further explanation – so ask away. I am also truly interested in hearing how others look at structure.