friday parsifal

A late start for some of us today and not even a suspension for me, though I was all ready to be hauled up and down and up. Gala and Jorgos had much more to do, and by the time Dasniya and I arrived after lunch, they were looking weary. Lucky for them the afternoon was for them to work on things.

Shibari technique is not easy. Dasniya and I have talked a lot about why some people can pick up a rope and swiftly grasp the mechanics of its use, while others even after years fumble about as though with a handful of cooked spaghetti. Even if the initial understanding of rope comes easily, there are set figures to learn, reasons why and where a line of rope is broken, practicalities, methods, all that is formally called technique. And then there is intention, dynamics, attitude, all that makes shibari that is not reducible to rope work, all that is concerned with the relationships of two or more people together – or even just self alone … and then there is performance.

We spent hours today just working on how Jorgos gets Gala from the floor to suspended and spinning. Splitting it into individual movements and working out what is going on while considering all of the above and more. Perhaps it is slightly obsessional, but by the end they had both gone from Jorgos suspends Gala to something quite other.

At one point, Gala hanging over, the rope attached to her hips, precariously balanced on toes, Jorgos reaches up to the ring, wraps the rope around his hands, a breath taken which lifts him from the floor, elbows pull savagely to his sides and he drops his whole weight, coming down to a squat so deep he almost sits on the floor. Gala snaps up into the air, swinging and oscillating while he grabs the ropes with one hand and ties off with the other.

A lot of time for maybe two minutes. This though all carries through what happens with me, what happens with all of us while suspended … Talking through the whole scene – it’s quite difficult to know what’s going on partly because of the spinning, partly because being suspended in rope tends to send one into a trance of sorts – we discover Jorgos really doesn’t have much time to do anything. Maybe time can be picked up by speeding up the suspension, being more economic.

We are trying also to make ourselves useful later in the second act also. It seems a pity for all of this for only fifteen minutes or so.

Tomorrow I think we work with Parsifal – Andrew Richards – on some Shibari. (I wonder why I call it Shibari instead of simply bondage? After all, we are the Bondage Artists. Without thinking too much about this, I think it has to do with my thoughts on what bondage is in western culture and pornography, and that while Shibari has aspects of this, it cannot be reduced to this alone and neither can rope bondage under the aegis of western BDSM be synonymous with Shibari.) He says, “… If I set my own preconceived notions aside I began to see what Castellucci is saying about the Plight of Kundry. There is something so elemental in the production it is actually quite terrifying. I do know this. I’m not in Kansas anymore. My problem is, how do I write about this?”

I write (and talk) about Shibari (and BDSM, porn … identity, bodies, feminism) both from a place of familiarity – it is no more unusual for me to think or talk about or be suspended than it is to go the markets for bread and cheese – and from a place of unknowningness. I have a curiosity in this that I have in the other (physical) things I find pleasure in – climbing, yoga … that unsurprisingly also include an element of suffering, that I know is not simple. There is nothing simple about Shibari, perhaps because it is – like opera – a performance of relationships. And yet, just as opera (or dance) is a very practical thing in rehearsal, which can be talked about in a coherent manner. I think watching Anna, Tomas, Andrew rehearsing, and being inside the spectacular organism of la Monnaie is inspiring me to consider how what we do can go further.

I took no photos today. Luckily, Andrew took some beautiful ones of us yesterday, one of which I have stolen.