Image

bacon dog

I was raving a delirious morning, cold clammy sweat all through class, not quite feverish but something unpleasant going on inside. I was craving a hot, warm, meaty curry rich with lamb and potatoes and thick roasted spices. I got a bacon dog.

A hot dog. Wrapped in fried bacon. Drenched in mustard and tomato sauce. In a long white bread roll. It’s so obscene I’m salivating just thinking about it.

(My photo of it dribbling all over my fingers didn’t turn out, so here’s one Daniel ate on Friday.)

ignition 7 – gender studies

Australian Dance Theatre presents

Ignition 7 – Gender Studies

Ignition returns to stages throughout metropolitan Adelaide during October for its seventh season. Curated by Garry Stewart, the Ignition 7 line-up includes new works from a selection of the ADT dancers and young guest choreographers.

Ignition 7 – Gender Studies moves beyond the popular bookshelf fare of Men are from Mars… to present ten new works which test, stretch and enhance our existing understanding of gender. Works range from quirky tales featuring snakes and contemplative explorations of mixed identity to reinterpretations of Sigourney Weaver’s fearsome warrior persona in Alien.

“It is especially interesting to see dance take on this topic,” said Garry Stewart. “Particularly in light of the fact that in many cultures dance is a means of establishing and confirming traditional roles based on gender.”

The impressive list of choreographers for Ignition 7 included Kelly Alexander, Sarah Cartwright, Frances d’Ath, Danny Golding, Sam Haren, Daniel Jaber, Paea Leach, Lina Limosani, Larissa McGowan, and Yang Xiao-Xuan. This will be Adelaide’s first opportunity to see the works of some of these choreographers.

Ignition 7 will be performed at the Out Of The Square venues across metropolitan Adelaide.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the internationally acclaimed talents of the extraordinary ADT dancers in their last local performance this year.

Tickets are $20/$15/$7.50 (Fringe Benefits and students)

Where and When:

Friday October 12 – Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth @ 8pm. T: 8256 0338 Edited programme presented at this venue.
Friday October 19 – The Parks Arts and Function Complex, Angle Park @ 8pm. T: 8243 5623
Saturday October 20 – Golden Grove Arts Centre @ 8pm. T: 8289 5111 Edited programme presented at this venue.
Friday October 26 – Marion Cultural Centre @ 8pm. T: 8375 6855
Saturday October 27 – Star Theatres, Hilton @ 8pm. T: 8234 1800
Sunday October 28 – Noarlunga Theatre @ 6:30pm. T: 8207 3975

— Australian Dance Theatre

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 14

Xuan said to me, over lunch, “I never dream I’m an …”, makes little creeping tendril extraterrestrial fingers, “alien …”, “Oh, no”, I say, “Alien like foreign, not …”, pointing at sky.

Yesterday I have a blood test at the doctor’s, for hormone levels. Three vials taken and three biscuits in return. I thought that was a great exchange. And alleviated my plummeting sugar levels too.

Now thinking of going to the markets. Eat maybe, sit in Cibo and let my brain fray on its own, entertaining itself while I get to be passenger for a while.

I’m feeling rather exuberant after rehearsal today, and commenced enjoying the kick I get out of apprehension, that maybe this time I couldn’t pull it all together in two hours, make the Alptraum scene respectable, do something with the Rape of the Sabine Women stuff we haven’t visited for weeks, and go from start to finish when we haven’t done that for some time either.

Everyone has been slightly delirious today, not just end of the week tired-silly, but that with the jump-up-and-say-yeah energy usually only visiting when sustained by exhaustion. I think this was the right enthusiasm to suddenly shuffle it all together and miraculously plop out a finished piece.

I said something like, “Can you do that, but with your heads facing that way … (points at back wall) so this is front … (points to side wall) even though I’m sitting at the corner … here …”. It possibly is as self-evidently stupid as it sounds, nonetheless…

We got through making sense of Alptraum and pulling it into something like a scene so quickly I thought the clock was going slow. And I love it, possibly my favourite scene in the entire thing, along with the geniunely creepy Throbbing Gristle, it has for me a believable nightmarish tinge. I get uncomfortable and twitchy, like I want to swim in this mess and also get far away.

Sabine Women though after all that work has been reduced to perhaps five berserk attacks and none of the accompanying phrases. I’d love to see this section done properly, ten minutes of hysterical rapacious clawing madness, and assembled in such a way that it was both visually coherent, and not perilous to do in the way it can easily be when there isn’t time to make it that. I’m sad this has become one of the deceased. Though admittedly it was one of the founding ideas for pestilence, so perhaps better it stays where it belongs, with plagues and insanity.

So, to running the whole thing.

Xuan says, “Sometimes I have rape fantasies …” Everyone stands there bewildered. Tara says, “What are we doing?” Daniel says, “This is a disaster”. We fumble through quite beautifully. I’ve never seen it all together, and never seen it knowing this is the thing it will be, minor adjustments aside (major ones also unless I’m taken by weird compulsion). I said to Xuan, “Oh, I have to change the script again”. She is perhaps thinking I’m doing this to torment her.

I was really touched by them all, doing this peculiar un-performance.

It’s only fifteen minutes too.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 13

So after last rehearsal, I was variously meant to watch all the video on Friday, but too busy with Melbourne stuff, then Saturday, but was alleviating incipient symptoms of a freakout by having Daniel pour half a bottle of Vodka into me (the word for missing out on Absinthe: disappointment), Sunday, but recovering from said alleviation through a prolonged stretch of doing nothing with Tara, Sandrine, Alex, Daniel, Alison and sundry others, Monday, but forgetting to bring in both video tape and “six-pin to four-pin FireWire cable for a DV camera”. So Tuesday when I only have an hour for lunch to do the requisite watching and editing, foiled by my often-mentioned In-Out-Error-corrupt-drive-Bad-Sector madness. Laptop equals frisbee.

It’s like an old person with Alzheimer’s, and you give them too much to think about … or a really bad ice-cream headache. My poor old laptop really doesn’t enjoy much more than simple lines of text these days, preferably not formatted either. Anyway do you really care about my excuses? No, neither do I. But sometimes this harried approach causes things to happen in much the same way as if I spent the previous four days picking and scraping at it with a small needle.

We are only using the first of three ten-minute improvisations that came from my nightmares and vivid dreams, and then maybe only a couple of minutes of bits and pieces, plane crashes, kissing and the white-headed monster, Japanese rope bondage. It was quite a lazy approach from me, read the dreams, improvise on their content while Throbbing Gristle blares, video, cut the good bits out, learn them, and then …

Occasionally in rehearsal, I manage to make myself really quite uncomfortable. I used to be, I suppose, wary of this, or would shy away from what I’d made. In blowup a short piece I made while still a student, there was what now I would consider very tame, lots of writhing and gyrating of girls in underwear to The Yardbirds. I was really concerned that perhaps I’d gone too far, and also that I was somehow opening up some lasciviousness within that would not be easy to account for.

In hell, the strangling, going so far as to see faces turn hideously red and eyes go black, I was so disturbed about what was within me that would want to imagine this, and make it, and ask others to participate in what, honestly when it comes down to it every piece of performance made in some way is your own personal fantasy.

Daniel and Tara … not so much kiss, but nuzzle each other’s heads, hair brushing over their face neck, arms and hands the skin also nestling sleepily into each other, Daniel’s fingers contort and search out Tara’s head, his mouth a toothy maw, she oblivious still fondling him, he is about to eat her brains. It’s like a midnight Hammer House of Horror demon movie, but also something personally disturbing for me, I’m not sure why. I like though that I can find things that make me cringe or recoil or upset me, and that I can stumble on them without knowing they are there.

I only have one properly usable rehearsal left, and I’m so far from having either something coherently finished, or – more importantly from a production opinion, less important for me – having suctioned it into an eight-minute vacuum-pack. I feel though that today’s rehearsal, concentrating solely on the Alptraum stuff was completely worth it, despite whatever anguish my lack of attention to schedules may later elicit. It feels now somewhat finished, that is to say, no more making, no more tiny scenes or ideas to play with, this is all and now the time is spent on stitching it together, what scrap or shard sits best next to what other, and how to arrange them all so there’s something there.

Slightly conceited to say it’s even somewhat finished. The Alptraum stuff need to be made to something not just disconnected blobs, the Rape of the Sabine Women hasn’t been exhumed for weeks, and I have a queasy premonition when it’s all done I’ll have something closer to twenty minutes than eight, no matter how much I plead, “Can you do it faster?”

But it feels like something now, I can recognise it. Also I think I may have managed to not reiterate all the tricks I’ve done before. It’s become what I imagined, even though I had no idea what that is. Or … it’s become something that the feeling of which is right, no gaps in the teeth, no clunks or moments of “eeeeew!”, though it still exists at that stage in my head and somehow I have to do an amazing contortion act tomorrow to get it there, and although it’s only meant to be a short work, and has variously appeared on two previous occasions, I’d somehow like to see it grow … hours of me me me.

I’m watching Tara and Danny, who have told me I have to dance to Britney, or mime her words, or something equally scary. It’s been almost two months here and somehow the performance season is dragged across most of October so there’s maybe another month to go, but I’m going to miss this strange little family.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 11 & 12

It was Throbbing Gristle. Though I need to go into town and try and find a record shop in this town of superlatively bad shopping that has Mission of Dead Souls, otherwise … I was surprised at how much of TG I must have listened to, sampling various tracks from their albums on iTunes, not that I could say I could sing along to any, there was though a strong memory of place, being in Auckland living in squats and various stark concrete, rising damp soaked buildings and warehouses near the wharfs. And I’d forgotten both how unfriendly and anxiety-inducing their music is, and also their musical genius. To listen to them is to hear clichés, that’s how profoundly influential they have been.

I like the German word for nightmares, alptraum, not being particularly etymological, I see both ‘dream’ and ‘trauma’ there, and I like ‘alp’ like dying of hypothermia high in the mountains as the sun departs. I’ve been writing down my more memorable dreams this year under this name, not all terrifying, though all have something that caused them to remain. The last scene I’m making was to give Daniel, Xuan, Paea, and Tara five that had something in them for no especially coherent reason I thought were appropriate for this work.

Deciding to continue humiliating and embarrassing myself, one of the dreams starred Daniel, Xuan and Tara amongst others with a heavy implication of smut. Then there was the Nepalese plane crash and subsequent militia-versus-peasants gun battle in which I was shot in the arm and Gala found me bleeding in a sluggish stream and knowing it couldn’t be plugged or tourniqueted. A thug who burst into my house in Toronto and dug his fingers into me so deeply until I again knew I was dying. A poolside adventure in Italy or similar with a period like a bleeding torrent … Japanese rope bondage suspension …

Late last night at Cibo with Alison, I impulsively showed her the three-page script. I was then just as suddenly taken, like a rabbit startled in a car’s headlights, by what I’ve made over the last couple of months, and just how personal it is, and got quite scared by the reality of people watching. I wanted to pull it back from her, but also to try and read some trace of a response in her face. We five have been in our little world, like a strange unknown tribe deep in the Papua New Guinea interior, it’s very easy once I, once we all start to feel comfortable with each other and what we are doing to venture tremendously far from familiarity and safety. I talk about how in my work I try to imagine possible worlds, how I take this from the philosophers I admire, and then to realise perhaps it’s not so imaginary or theoretical, that we can make something livable, that the world, our lives, we are far more malleable and open to suggestion that we suppose. And now to be discovered … a momentary freakout.

I was thinking while reading over this, daydreaming too, “I hope I like it”.

It’s too late to change anything though, and anyway, it’s far more interesting for me to put myself in these situations that I don’t know what will happen. But I am now quite nervous and apprehensive about this. I guess my attitude towards myself right now in response is somewhat of, “Oh shut up and deal with it, you knew what you were doing,” though I’m not sure why I was doing it, (I’ll blame it on Garry-the-theme-this-year-is-gender-studies-Stewart), or that I do know what I am doing. I suppose I’m also worried about the others, that we could all wake up having found ourselves wondering what on earth we’ve done. It’s probably just me. I need to get trashed again this weekend.

We were going to read aloud one dream each but Xuan decided she was going to read them all. Yes I adore listening to someone trying to comprehend a language that is not really their own. I love too, what English becomes when it falls in love with another place. It is alive and always becoming something else, it really delights me, Chinglish in all its varieties, how one language adapts another in order to I guess to be understandable and in turn changes, and maybe also it’s not all practical, maybe sometimes too play and fun and games make the flowering.

I’m feeling slightly lazy in how I want to choreograph, and watching Paea rehearse I thought maybe what I do isn’t really choreography, and maybe I don’t really know how to choreograph, like an architect who has no idea of the engineering needed to establish a structure. After sitting around airing my dreams I just wanted them to improvise, that catch-all word for ‘do something’, while I filmed it.

This is the first time in this work I’ve brought the camera in. temperance and hell variously were entirely choreographed through the lens and editing. So being lazy, instead of feeling anxious that I have no steps to give, I just watched them and later will watch them again on film and cut-and-paste the bits I like and somehow assemble it. More minutes and seconds. I need to do some cutting myself, or … “actually guys, can you do it faster?”.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 9 & 10

Oh lazy huh? And today feeling awful, possibly from lack of sleep and I really hope not from Ebola. Anyway sitting in the State Library, not Cibo, downloading more doom and metal from the sublime Southern Lord, and trying to think of something coherent to write after missing last rehearsal’s expectorations and in the midst of a cycle of weird dreams that probably is due to making this piece in the first place.

The Rape of Lucretia started out as a scene that I imagined would be fairly involved but still a single idea. I saw it becoming just a repeat of what I’d done before, and I really didn’t want to do that, regardless of the abbreviated rehearsal period. It became first a very short thing that then wrapped itself around a slew of other variously connected ideas and sketches and suddenly gorged itself on the whole piece and made itself the opening number. Very clever.

I don’t think I’m being particularly coherent today. I had a slight panic earlier this week when I realised I had maybe two weeks to finish whatever it is this is, and that I’d also made around fifteen minutes already with stuff yet to be included in what is supposed to be only an 8 minute work. “Oops”, I thought, and buried my head ignoring these two salient matters and pretending it wasn’t happening. Is it irresponsible to jump and worry about landing when it happens? I can see a part of my near future where I say, “It seemed like a good idea at the time”, and receive glowers of disdain in return.

There’s only a few hours rehearsal a week, and the entire thing is spread out over a couple of months, but I’ve devoted an obsessive amount of time to this piece that I usually would have for a work much larger. Fun for me. It suits how my brain likes to stretch itself. It was this week also I felt that horrible moment when it was going to be whatever it already is, there’s not much time left for imagining something else, for it to live as a series of possibilities. I think that’s why I like making and playing as long as I can and having whatever is performed only barely ready to be seen so it isn’t ossified and dead, to deny it enough that it must keep growing.

I feel like I’m writing a eulogy here, like it’s already over.

So we tried to run it in some vague semblance of order earlier in the week, and it was an oddity that I promptly attacked with a pen. I have a script. I’m turning into a theatre director. Or something. I make them speak lines. (“I don’t do lines”, says Daniel, “I don’t do steps and counts”, I reply, and so we both do.) I like how Xuan reads, because reading English isn’t something she’s fluent at, and so the inflection, how we would designate a natural weight and flow and emphasis, is missing. It makes, for me anyway, a much more entrancing thing, to hear the words without emotion and so to have to decide what they mean, that is to say to judge their value, is this a good thing or a bad thing, and always there is something left beyond and after, so I don’t know.

I noticed yesterday, though the script and work has become very personal and autobiographical, just how elusive it is, how little can be divined from it, to describe someone as a series of attributes and yet to be irreducible to this. It’s swung between far too personal and far too theoretical at times, yet, and this is possibly an attribute of my personality I am only vaguely aware of its pervasiveness, there is my constant evasiveness and deferral.

And that I’ve made or am making a work so close to theatre and so far from dance, I suppose I should be worried when I’m trying to be a choreographer but it’s exhilarating that each time I make something I really don’t know what will result. I’m such a lush for that.

Two different pieces then. One that I am making without regard for anything but itself, the internal timeframe of the piece largely self-directed, the other entirely in the thrall of eight minutes. And while already way beyond that, I still need to make this final conjugation of scenes. Something of nightmares.

I was listening to Throbbing Gristle a couple of days ago. I suppose Genesis P-Orridge is another one of those lurking influences on me, so it’s not inappropriate I’ve been thinking of these scenes of alptraum along with the noise of T/G, and somehow becoming all that Rape of the Sabine Women biting and pinching hysteria. I think what I try to do is very elaborately assemble a precarious accumulation of things and then push it over and see if anything happens. All these notes and scrawls and thinking and … and I get into rehearsal and have no idea what to do. Like being lost in a forest and kicking at fallen trees hoping to find something edible.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 8

I couldn’t really justify rape fantasies or liking being strangled through Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, and I did do an awful lot of agonising over her text trying to extricate something that could be regarded as a statement on the relationship between identity and desire in the real world, not just something abstract or elusive. I failed. The closest I think she gets is when she’s talking about Foucault’s text on Herculine Barbin, the all-too-well-known French hermaphrodite. Besides her quote of Foucault’s line where pleasure is “grins hang(ing) about without the cat”, I considered the attention paid to Herculine troublesome precisely because she/he is so singular. In tangling with gender but seeing perhaps some use in it as a descriptive generalisation, she went so far towards the atomistic individual and left nothing common to grasp.

So I used some of ADT’s production budget to pay an exorbitant $63 for her, I suppose, response, Undoing Gender.

Judith writes sublime introductions. I sometimes think if she left it at that, she’d still be one of the most profound philosophers. I found so much in these few pages as to be overwhelmed, and … I have this feeling when I read her, from the first time in the mid-90s till now that she has written this for me. Kind of an anthropomorphic view of the universe wherein it’s there because I’m here to observe it, and in doing so it makes life more possible.

I have said so often that in the making of performance, the performing, and even in the viewing that you should emerge a different person from the one who went in, a kind of commitment to going beyond yourself or entangling with yourself and with the others during this time, so it becomes an unknown journey possibly off the end of the world, far from the safe and familiar. It’s easy to talk about this and … exhausting, traumatic, embarrassing, painful … all these things to really do, even when I trust the people I am with.

So this piece has become very personal, autobiographical, easy to write about here, difficult to talk about outside of our gang of five. I’ve constantly been skating between fearing it’s gone into art-therapy, or even it’s so self-indulgent as to be cringeworthy, like a Hollywood vanity project. Or contra this, I haven’t gone far enough or haven’t been honest enough, that it will read as duplicitous and arrogant. We have fun, though.

I’ve actually had two rehearsals this week, a monster four hours on Monday, and a forty minute ‘review’ on Wednesday (and I’m too tardy to write until now). The latter was mostly talking. I’ve written a script I suppose you could call it. So much text and talking and acting, I guess it’s acting, somewhere between performance art and installation art with the traces of choreography and dancing. Unlikely to be eight minutes either. I keep thinking, “Lucky I’m off to make real dance after this, because I’m getting far too tanztheater-begrifflich”.

I was sitting – where else – in Cibo, reading Undoing Gender for the first time, almost with vertigo … I have this tension between the joy I find in someone’s writings that allow for a larger world to exist, one I can feel less foreign in, and the annoyance in myself in that I need someone, someone who is published and esteemed and intelligent and educated, to validate me … I was so happy to be interrupted by Gala.

Some non-sequential bits from Judith that made it into my notes and moved me somehow.

Moreover, one does not “do” ones gender alone. One is always “doing” with or for another, even if the other is only imaginary.

Although being a certain gender does not imply that one will desire a certain way, there is nevertheless a desire that is constitutive of gender itself and, as a result, no quick or easy way to separate the life of gender from the life of desire.

If I am a certain gender, will I still be regarded as part of the human? Will the “human” expand to include me in its reach? If I desire in certain ways, will I be able to live? Will there be a place for my life, and will it be recognisable to the others upon whom I depend for social existence?

There is a certain departure from the human that takes place in order to start the remaking of the human. I may feel that without some recognisability, I cannot live. But I may also feel that the terms by which I am recognised make life unlivable.

Moreover, there is no better theory (psychoanalysis) for grasping the workings of fantasy construed not as a set of projections on an internal screen but as part of human relationality itself. It is on the basis of this insight that we can come to understand how fantasy is essential to an experience of one’s own body, or that of another, as gendered.

Am I a gender after all? And do I “have” a sexuality? Or does it turn out that the “I” who ought to be bearing its gender is undone by being a gender, that gender is always coming from a source that is elsewhere and directed towards something that is beyond me, constituted in a sociality I do not fully author? If that is so, then gender undoes the “I” who is supposed to be or bear its gender, and that undoing is part of the very meaning and comprehensibility of that “I”. If I claim to “have” a sexuality, then it would seem that a sexuality is there for me to call my own, to possess as an attribute. But what if sexuality is the means by which I am dispossessed? What if it is invested and animated from elsewhere even as it is precisely mine? Does it not follow, then, that the “I” who would “have” its sexuality is undone by the sexuality it claims to have, and that its very “claim” can no longer be made exclusively in its own name? If I am claimed by others when I make my claim, if gender is for and from another before it becomes my own, if sexuality entails a certain dispossession of the “I”, this does not spell the end to my political claims. It only means that when one makes those claims, one makes them for much more than oneself”.

— Judith Butler – Undoing Gender

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 7

After my opening up during the last rehearsal, today’s three-hour endurance spectacle, resting on many pages of preparatory notes and too many hours in Cibo and staring at walls – and chocolate – was one of those fortuitous ones where everything seemed to flow along like an afternoon of eating and playing in the park. I was though, completely empty from two weeks of grant writing and other emotionally fraught things, and was very determined to get quite smashed on Saturday night, so I’m writing this at the other end of Sunday in-between preparing more pages for tomorrow’s rehearsal and the coming weeks … trying to accept I only have eight minutes, too few rehearsals, and that I don’t need to act like I’m making a full-evening performance.

Although, if I act like it’s all these things, I’m liable to be blasé and when it’s the first thing I’ve made in almost a year, slipping into the land of doing what I know and have done before is the last thing I want to have happen.

The Rape of the Sabine Women part has started to resemble what it will eventually become, yet when we spend only less than two hours with it … I was sitting on the bus this evening wondering what I’d do if I had say, three months full-time to make a performance. How much more would I develop something beyond the familiar ‘get it to where it’s looking ok and working and get started on the next thing’. In making dance, writing, almost everything, I’ve become so used to regarding the first appearance of something as more-or-less being what it will be, no major edits, no complete or partial revisions, maybe some minor amendments, but that’s all.

Despite these qualms, this scene has managed to become something that I really like, and continues to evolve into itself without the dread need for setting steps and counts. That in itself is secretly very useful for what I have planned in monadologie, and here in the studio has been often an hilarious tangle of limbs and teeth, and bite-shaped bruises.

With that part mostly coherent, the attention was really directed at what The Rape of Lucretia would become. So many notes pulled from two years of thinking of this work, and stuff that never made it into crush, stuff that might not make it in here, another tangle of little things, most no more than a line ore two. Some though, are things that have already been something.

Judith Butler talked about gender being the repeated stylisation of the body, “That congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being”, to which Nietzsche posthumously added, “There is no ‘being’ behind doing, effecting, becoming; ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything”, and within this, identity only exists through language. So of course Wittgenstein turned up and said, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent”, or at least Derek Jarman made him say that. And so again I find myself back in Zürich with Nigel doing bad things to me.

This was a scene with Jens during SiWiC, that really does belong here, and unlike say, all the 春宫图 Chungongtu stuff that started off as my infatuation with Agoraphobic Nosebleed and ended up in hell, or even the biting stuff now that I imagined as belonging in pestilence … this piece over the years seems like a playground where things get stolen by other works with less scruples.

Paea can act the Austrian Contessa like a charm, and Daniel never once has missed a chance to get all his clothes far away from his body (or burp loudly and at great length, or fart, come to think of it).

The Rape of Lucretia has become a very short almost formal tableau based on five paintings of the story, and nothing like what it began as. Similarly the very first thing we worked on, from photos of Deborah Paauwe’s works I’d taken during 42a, and the memory and amnesia in a body, reemerged through one of Paea’s tasks for me, “Frisking and saying it’s OK”.

I also found I have to teach them all how to do proper Black Metal head-banging, or hand-banging actually. So far I describe it as, “seize the sacrificed goat’s still-beating heart, shake it and squeeze the warm blood from its severed arteries, raise it high to the beast”. I awoke from my catalepsy last night to find them surrounding me preparing to do all that. Plus video camera.

Oh, and then there was John Jasperse. I’m really entering new territories of embarrassment here. The title of the work originally was a list called, “Everyone I have ever slept with”. The doubt insinuated itself and the name changed when I realised firstly I couldn’t remember people’s names and far worse, the longer I dwelled on this, the more people, tenuous ghosts, returned to me. Tonight I found the original Zürich list, also the list from crush last year. These, and my memory of both are so incoherent as to bring even the notion of faithfully recorded memory into disrepute. There is a third version also, that Anna recited, perhaps in existence on video still, most likely lost.

From the beginning of this, I thought also of people I had crushes on, and what the consequences such a public airing of my daydream world would be. Tara’s task was “Describe in words, while reflecting in movement, one of your fantasies”. I spent Thursday night on the internet trying to find video of John dancing. I settled for photos. There is a text also accompanying my memory of how he moves. Perhaps to save this for later.

Daniel’s task, that we didn’t quite make it to was, “Explain your greatest fear in regard to gender studies of any context”. My response to this, and the text that finishes this scene is, “That it’s all in my head and I have to be male”.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 6

Talking talking talking. I was really not so prepared for this rehearsal, but it turned into a bit of a long conversation … mostly me talking really, about where the work came from and just going through all my notes out loud.

I’ve been trying to work the Rape of Lucretia scene into something that isn’t a repetition of what I’ve done before, and started to see it maybe as being part os a larger scene that is a combination of all the scraps of ideas littering my notebook. Both before and after, tonight on a bus again, my new favourite place of rehearsing, I tried to make this germinal idea something real and tangible enough to be played with. There’s a long gap between talking about an idea and making dance with it.

Talking and watching porn movies.

This was a closed rehearsal, I don’t think I’m going to say much about our conversations here. I found myself at one point surprised at how awkward I was to talk about certain things in front of four people I feel very comfortable around when I seem to blog to a mostly unknown public with exhibitionist impunity.

The piece has taken a very personal turn for the moment. A friend of mine said to me while sitting in the Black Cat in Fitzroy and talking about – of course – Judith Butler and my gender, “You know, you’re really lucky, you get to live what we only theorise about”.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 5

So when I leave writing about stuff for a few days, things get … blurry. The last few days have been bewilderingly intense in the world of dance here, and personally. I suspect chocolate at next rehearsal. I really am deeply grateful and overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve received from the dancers here, and how much they’ve made me feel like I am part of a family. This really is an amazing and wonderful place, and I do feel so lucky to be here.

I’ve been meaning also to write about Daniel’s rehearsals, as I’ve found myself playing a boy snake who emits female pheromones to attract other boy snakes so they will sleep on top of me while I hibernate. Yes, the personal pronouns are all a bit confused around here. It’s fun and having not been in the process of developing a performance as a dancer for what seems like a lifetime, I am deliriously happy to do one of the things I truly love.

Playtime. I had a list of things to get through without a doubt naively optimistic, but we actually got through over half of it, and altogether gave me plenty to think about in conceptualising the piece as a whole. Back to the Sabine Women, and more amnesiac and hysterical, panic-stricken comings-to-life of Rubens’ paintings, and pulling it together rather successfully with the biting and punching stuff. It could have been a disaster and I’d have been left with no idea what to do next.

Mostly it was just a day of working through things we’d already done, considering what worked, talking about it a bit, and then finish. After all this, sitting around somewhere dark and pondering what to do next was the bit of endurance. My notebook is being eaten by a bacterial sprawl of letters and words. I think I know where to go next, and also have a constantly replenished list of things to try, but it feels like it’s close to a point where there is a parting, it’s going to have to become one thing or another.

Sometimes when I get to this point in a development I feel an emptiness at what has been left behind. At the beginning, there is this sense of all these possibilities the work could be and slowly it gets collapsed into one thing. This time, it feels like it is unfolding into what it could be, becoming itself. Plenty of embarrassment for me.