all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 3

Yesterday was long, at times something to be endured, frightening when it came to rehearsing and going to places of near humiliation and embarrassment, and of course laughter. Before all that darkness though we had a lecture from Dr Johnathan Bollen from Flinders University talking about gender, identity, all the stuff this project is about, even name-dropping Judith Butler. I think for the others they managed to have presented to them in a way I fail to do, a clear account of what is being thought of as gender, sex, sexuality at the moment, or as much as you can do in one and a half hours.

My still current concern has been the place were the first two meet the last one. Johnathan’s musing on this was that it can be seen in two ways, one in terms of pleasure, what feels good, the role of desire, I suppose physicalised, and the second from moving towards other sexed and gendered bodies. I suppose I find this a bit unsatisfactory, not intentionally evasive, but just, I dunno, a little too easy, or uncritical. I think in the last say 10 years, and I imagine especially because of the internet, the diversity of gendered bodies, firstly through porn and then just through the overwhelming deluge of information has become so pronounced that to be so simple or maybe purposefully naive is to be left far behind the world as it happens.

Later on the bus, Paea and I talked about this, really in the context of my opinion of my own work that I need to be able to justify every decision I make, to elucidate through language what it is I’m doing, or more pertinently how the edges of each idea or thing is sewn to the others. This came from a late part of the rehearsal where Tara asked me, “So, what does this have to do with the rest of the work, and gender?”.

I just feel that if a question is asked I should be able to provide some answer better than, “I don’t really know yet”, even if it is that but with a degree of analysis attached, this is why I don’t know, maybe this, perhaps something else …

So, to rehearsal. Getting towards twilight, and more talk of gender and of course, me and me and me. I’ve done something odd for me this time, and closed the rehearsals. Usually I’m fine to have other people hang around or play with us, but this feels, despite the laughing and ease with which we do things, it is, I’m aware both while watching and on later reflection, a quite demanding piece. I’ve said before what’s important for me is to make work where we leave rehearsal changed, a different person than the one who went in, for what we’re doing in performance to require a commitment beyond what we think we can give. Mostly I think this applies to me, how to make myself uncomfortable, lost.

Some of what we did, just a repeating of stuff from previous rehearsals is to become more coherent in what we’re doing, to work out what is possible, what works, were the disasters might erupt from, all the fun stuff. It is getting close here and there to engineering, the logistics of how to proceed. And then on to making myself squirm.

The bus on Monday night, I was feeling bleak and so also frustrated, not from rehearsals but from myself, and remembering how Nigel coerced me into turning this into performance before, I thought a perfect response to my own self-indulgence was to somehow present it, a list of myself I wrote on the bus, entangled somewhat with what I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

I was really worried about how this might progress once Xuan started reading the text, maybe it would be so horrible the other three would pull faces or look at me with disdain, or with incredulity at each other, or laugh. So the list of ‘must-nots’ was fairly comprehensive. Also maybe I wanted to see that, the first response in which they, all standing naked facing me listening to Xuan reading, responding as literally as possible, nothing extravagant, just bodies on display and the parts that make them.

Yes, there were moments of cold horror, a yuckiness verging on art as therapy, all the things I find revolting, and sometimes like I was the one naked in front of them (though I did have to show my breasts after to appease the others … I can see where this is going …). Did it work? I think so, but maybe they are all just being polite to me, hoping it’s one of those things that happen in rehearsal that can just be forgotten. I’ll see if it lives or dies in the next while.

Then on to the bit that Tara asked of, “So what does this have to do with anything?”. There was a day in SiWiC when I was drained of tricks and ideas, and then was pushed to deal with several tasks in rapid succession, maybe having only fifteen minutes or an hour to get through each one. I think that’s when I started making things I hadn’t ever done before, finding in this endurance of emptiness something else.

Probably easier to quote myself:

The duo with Jens and Anna-Maria was just that. Firstly, I wanted to continue the Wittgenstein stuff, then I wanted to make something exceptionally dancey, then I fell asleep for a bit and woke up not wanting to move too much, so I thought maybe they could just sit in chairs and do lots of arm-partnering. So I thought, sitting with them both, I’d find some music, and put on Prince, Purple Rain as a bit of background noise in the meantime. Somehow, I don’t remember they were standing doing ballet curtain calls. That became seven minutes of the most beautiful Fontaine and Nureyev curtain calls, over and over and over.

Yeah, it’s been done before so many times. But I wasn’t being ironic or contemptuous of ballet. The best outcome would have been everyone watching going with it and yelling screaming… and it happened, and I had this moment of, “Oh! you love me! You understand me!”. And everyone was well pleased to see Jens show a bit of cock too.

Tara and Daniel make a beautiful Nureyev and Fontaine.

So now I need to find videos of them in curtain calls and for the next thing, Japanese rope bondage instruction manuals and accompanying ropes. And then there are all the tasks Daniel, Xuan, Paea and Tara gave me I have to somehow make something of. Oh making dance … so much fun.