We spent some hours yesterday using the empty rehearsal theatre to try some things. Two days of snoozing, eating, snoozing, reading, snoozing … bodies have some reluctance to become corporeal. The hanging is not exactly or simply painful, though there is some of this. Pain in itself, in its simplest, raw composition is not a thing to spend too much time around. This hanging from ropes only infrequently butts up against this.
Mostly it is a wearing down. An endurance that brings exhaustion and fragility. I’ve been hanging in a side suspension since the original form – Teppo with one arm high – proved too complex to arrange on the ring and sent my hand dangerously to sleep far too quickly. We talk a lot about this, how to find a sort of comfort, how to not feel abused by the experience.
My skin is becoming quickly tough, but it is the deep bruises, as well as the pressure the ropes place on abdomen and viscera that leave us feeling in need of a sit-down and cup of tea after each hanging. At times – like today when we did three long suspensions – it becomes emotional and scary. The exhaustion of dancing or running is one thing; the exhaustion of shibari is something quite different.
Like yoga, it is something that can be pushed against with muscles, a kind of static contraction, as well as moved through; subtle shifting of weight pushing down agains different ropes, twisting or lifting. It can also be through larger movements, swapping legs, bending or straightening. All this helps, but it is a finite game.
The hard pressure against small areas of flesh, the effort – muscular, mental, emotional, all leave even the skin feeling over-sensitive. More dangerous though is how quickly it can turn from a kind of comfort into damage. Pressure on a nerve can leave fingers tingling for days and can happen in an instant. For me it’s been a background noise of slight nausea from the pressure on my abdomen that lingers into the evening. Hot water bottle? Yes!
Today we used climbing harnesses, strapped on to one side, or with carabiner on the hip, to make it possible to hang longer. We made it through three long-ish suspensions, twice on the stage, to see what was possible (Programmable raising and lowering? Brilliant!), and then a run-through with dancers for timing. We were all a bit stoned from the ropes by the end of it, and of course stupidly hungry … eat eat eat …
Of course, many photos. La Monnaie is such a treat to be let loose in with my camera, and the ridiculously wide lens on such a small body is utterly brilliant for the volume of the stage and auditorium, as well as in rehearsal. Yes, still in love with square format black and white, but sometimes only 16:9 in colour can really find the sense of awe this theatre engenders. Some more playing then…