abjection Rehearsal 12 (or so)

Back at Theaterhaus Mitte, and not sure what number I am up to in rehearsing, so let’s make approximate. I rehearsed Thursday also, but that was a washout, mostly did yoga and rolled around and eventually watched a movie so I wouldn’t feel like I’d done nothing. Not so much uninspired as just physically feeling in a dead-end street.

So yesterday, a daytime rehearsal, another five hours of which the first two are always spent doing a yoga-Pilates-Klein-kinesiology thing. Much time spent on my Psoas and Piriformis. I’ve been having some excellent physio on my achilles which possibly has been what I’ve needed all along – the orthpædic at Charité said, “It’s going to hurt, are you sure you want this?” and I think most people would probably run away screaming, but I’ve always liked the pain of a hard massage even though this is pain proper and not just intensity. She said, “Ja, heute ist bisschen mehr weich,” probably because she’d tenderised it like a steak under one of those spiky mallets.

Still, two ballet classes this week (yay, Dasniya! showing uncritical bias as I may be, she is a very good teacher), much yoga, two rehearsals and achilles looked surprisingly normal last night.

And what did I do? Music veered between Sunn O))) (of course), Company Flow (what the fuck, Frances?), and a video of Marquese Scott, who I can’t stop watching at the moment. In-between, much silence.

I’m not sure if I’m rehearsing at the moment, or just working on things; things as in how I move, and hour-long analysis of very simple movement. I seem to have a regular warm-up and progression through things that is useful for the actual work, but I often get distracted by ideas, and so, for example:

All this swinging stuff. Penduluming? Oscillating? What’s inherent to walking that can be used as a template for making coherent any other movement. It seems like such a hippy-ish ‘pedestrian movement’, ‘post-modern dance’ idea, but I have such a disinterest in that. I’m not trying to find a ‘natural’ movement, or ‘release’ or any of that other old stuff; I think it’s fairly mechanical, insofar as a body can be said to be mechanical, which it obviously isn’t (the kilos of bacteria in my gut would at least resent the label). Maybe it’s procedural. So penduluming is a useful-ish word, because it is the weight of the bob that keeps the oscillation going; acceleration and velocity, periods, equilibrium and all.

Turns out walking is “defined by an ‘inverted pendulum’ gait”. Maybe it’s the gait that I’m interested in? The gait of moving, and the part-gait of say, swinging a leg (part-gait as in there’s no locomotion, but a leg-swing can be seen as a section of movement that does travel). So, leg swings. Also this comes from many, many hours on a wobble/balance board and the slow-dawning realisation that while it’s great for calf muscle definition and some kinds of balance, proprioception, fine motor skills, it’s also static, and balance is always coupled with movement; for dancing at least.

So from Dasniya’s ballet class, with an exercise that had a 2nd developé, demi-rond to fondu attitude devant, and grande rond to fondu attitude derriere, which for me was wobbly, I thought of this as another kind of leg swing. So if I’m just standing there and I swing my leg lazily on the floor in a semi-circle, front, behind, knee bent-straight-bent, what’s going on? What the walking-equivalent oscillation of this?

One thing is that unlike walking in which the arm, leg swings and other movements do not require additional input to attack or retard in order to maintain a rhythm, any more complex movement needs little flicks and accelerations here and there, because the leg and arm swinging, knee bending and all the rest cannot keep in sync otherwise. And it’s where these flicking attacks come from that determines how much like walking any movement can be, or conversely how tense, uncomfortable and horrific.

I saw a nice drawing of the diaphragm, and we’ve all heard the simile of the diaphragm as an umbrella or balloon, but this illustration reminded me in shape and in it’s central hole of nothing other than Curiosity’s supersonic retro parachute, and breathing is endlessly talked about in dance, how to use one’s breath, how to ‘dance like you’re breathing’, but how to use one’s walk (or rather, gait), how to dance like you’re walking … yes we hear the latter a little but more often within the release or post-modern dance vocabulary, that is to say the method is used to engender the aesthetic or style of movement. I’m not interested so much in these aesthetics, nor in the contemporary dance fixation on ‘having a process’ or branding myself with a technique or style; this is simply about learning to move, and the more I do it, it seems this isn’t really taught.

We learn an awful lot about learning phrases. Every day, new phrases, more phrases, different phrases, new and more and different instructions and corrections on how to do this and them, but to go away from that, to just spend time alone and try and work out what the fuck happens when I try and stand on one leg, when I try and swing it, to try and consciously analyse how the finite constraints of a body’s anatomy lead to a specific gait within which all movement must happen – whether or not you go with it or against it – I think there’s both an absence of doing this in training and more importantly an absence of conceptualising how this can be done.

It might also be a lot of things at once, and I’m failing to remember cum hoc propter hoc, correlation does not imply causation; all the things I’m doing in rehearsal might simply be returning me to a dancing state, and nothing more. And yet, the endless variations of swinging arms gave me the idea the same could be applied to legs, which led me to infinitesimal leg swings (half and hour of alternating legs for minutes at a time and swinging no more than a finger-width off the floor anyone?), and other ‘standing on one leg, doing something with the other’, and yesterday, doing this attitude rond swing (funny how I still think and write and talk in ballet terms) for a long while, it just came together. Whether on the floor or at grande rond height it became uncomplicated and as simple, inevitable as walking.

Which is the point. Not that all this left much time for the point, being rehearsing abjection, but once I got to it, actually moving in any way I decided to had this same method. It’s like when you’re standing on a train for a long time and the swaying influences your body so when you get off, it echoes in your body.

Not much time for the point, indeed. All this chewed up a good 4 hours, so I spent another hour going through the obvious stuff but was feeling a little unfocussed because I hadn’t done my homework, so to speak. Homework being going through all the videos and working out what works, what doesn’t and assembling into general ideas.

As an aside, yesterday Dasniya was rehearsing and came in with a load of rope on her head like a beehive or termite mound and was moshing listening to Venom. This, Sydney and Lismore is what happens when anarchists get hold of rope and listen to heavy metal.