Second rehearsal is sometimes like second night blues when you’re performing, despite spending much of the weekend preparing, reading Judith Butler in Cibo and having late evening visits there from Daniel. Ah yes, I am predictable in the mundane patterns of my days. I also spent the weekend with Kate Champion and Roz Hervey of Force Majeure and twenty or so dancers, actors, performers and theatre people in a workshop of the company’s, I guess to call it working aesthetic.
There’s some crossover between this workshop and what happened Monday afternoon, that I’ll try and write something out here about, but perhaps what was most interesting for me in the late evening when everyone had left the studios except me and the creaking, settling ghosts of the building was what came from the remains of the couple of hours with Xuan, Tara and Daniel.
How to make dance without making steps or counts? I think some of this piece will certainly have some kind of rhythm, perhaps even one as metronomic as the interminable danceworld’s 1,2,…8, repeat. How to not repeat myself? What came from SiWiC in Zürich now two years ago, those three weeks with Nigel Charnock left a trace on me that I still haven’t tired of exhuming. A similar one from Hans van den Broek in Vienna at DanceWEB, well it was only really a drunken night with a group including him and me eavesdropping on what they were doing, that a description of a process could affect me more than so many weeks and months of living in other people’s processes.
I don’t want to make steps. In the past, with a few works, I assembled scenes from examining, say, Goya’s Disasters of War or the 春宫图 Chungongtu or Shunga drawings, making what could be regarded as steps with counts, or at least coherent, repeatable movement with some definable timing. I started again this time with something similar, looking at all the images, paintings, drawings, sculptures of the Rape of Lucretia and the Rape of the Sabine Women, looking at one grouping of individuals then another, imagining them as a progression, like the real movement of people if caught on film. But I’ve done that before.
In all this searching for what is simply I think an exposition of my own unsettling fantasies (and consequently what Judith Butler has to say, if anything), I found Eve Sussman, her film The Rape of the Sabine Women, the choreographer for which, Claudia de Serpa Soares dances with Sasha Waltz. And trying to remain somewhat faithful to what I always do, which is as little as possible, nothing preferably, I started to think about how maybe we can work with only one tableau of bodies, how they can keep returning over and over to this but otherwise there’s a freedom, dictated by the determination to accuracy in our rendition of these paintings, that allows for something not shackled to me having to make steps, the dancers having to learn and repeat, a corpse of movement.
The same too for where this goes, my new favourite form of partnering, biting and grabbing folds of flesh, jumping, twisting, falling over, dropping, still with teeth in skin. Yes, there are marks that remained overnight. There isn’t really any difference between this approach here to making movement and what I’m working on in Monadologie, where choreography is a series of initial conditions acted upon by defined circumstances.
So I was sitting on the bus, feeling partly empty and thinking about where this started, the list of names of people, only the ones I could remember, I’d slept with, and how that performance of sex could possibly be knitted together with what I first imagined this would be, far more literal about my body, and so then on to Judith Butler. I didn’t get very far, it all seems a little contrived to force this, and while it’s easy to represent fucking, either metaphorically or literally, it’s really not easy in any way to represent gender, especially as Butler imagines it. It’s feels like separate things which only have a personal commonality.
It was Nigel who forced me into using text. It was painful. It was Nigel also who forced me to use myself as an almost humiliating source of theatre. So I sat on the bus and wrote and maybe when we get to this text in our next rehearsal somehow it will knit together these differences.