temperance – a stranger knocks at his door; fang decides to kill him

When I was using Life Forms as my main tool for choreography, one of the best things about it was not having to worry about dancers or being in a studio. Which sounds a little cruel. Mostly, if I go into a studio on my own to ‘make dance’, I end up lying on the floor lost in an existential funk. If I go in with dancers and don’t have some really solid ideas about what I’m going to do – not just a general and vague conception of the work, but exactly what I will do from 1 till 2pm and so on – then again it’s wasted time. So having an animation programme that let me make a whole bunch of movement phrases – movement that I would not come up with on my own, then learn them and do things with them removed that often yawning chasm between ‘vague idea’ and ‘real dance steps’.

I haven’t used Life Forms since carnivore, but my well-battered PowerBook has always been the centre of my choreographing universe. Temperance has ended up being a work (and a film) made in Final Cut Pro. To video rehearsals, edit the results until there remains a series of short clips that might be usable and assemble them in something like a coherent order in Final Cut is the dance equivalent of story-boarding a movie using scenes cut from old movies or generating the whole thing inside a gaming engine. The alternative is to imagine it inside my head and on scraps of paper (hard to do and even harder to interpret my notes once in rehearsal again) or do it during rehearsals.

In a completely different same part of my brain, I’ve been reading the chapter “Incompossibility, Individuality, Liberty” in Deleuze’s The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, especially the reference to Jean-Luis Borges’ Le jardin aux sentiers qui bifurquent in Fictions:

Borges, one of Leibniz’s disciples, invoked the Chinese philosopher-architect T’sui Pên, the inventor of the “garden with bifurcating paths,” a baroque labyrinth whose infinite series converge or diverge, forming a webbing of time embracing all possibilities. “Fang, for example, keeps a secret; a stranger knocks at his door; Fang decides to kill him. Naturally, several outcomes are possible: Fang can kill the intruder; the intruder can kill Fang; both of them can escape from their peril; both can die, etc. In T’sui Pên’s work, all outcomes are produced, each being the point of departure for other bifurcations”.

— The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque