Post-BRX/TIL

Back in Berlin with the usual pouring-of-day-down-toilet that is economy airlines. Really, I’d get the train everywhere if Deutsche Bahn (and others) weren’t so scandalously overpriced. I’d get work done for a start, and Brussels to Berlin is only a couple of hours longer by train door-to-door than the ‘1 hour’ flight (for values of ‘1 hour’ that include 2.5 hours check-in and .5 ‘waiting for suitcase’).

So! Tilburg, Daniel, ADT. Brussels, Hans, Anuschka, Mokka coffee, piadina at the market (twice!). No shopping in Antwerpen because despite being a 40min drive from Tilburg, it’s 90+ minutes on the train, and I just wanted to get back to Brussels.

Last time I was in Brussels, Hans was just building his new studio in Workspace Renold (wow was really middle of last year I was last there). This time, it’s finished and it’s dead cozy, wood-fired heaters and all. The pictures don’t do it any justice; it’s much bigger (I’m standing about half-way along the length) and is charming – with a lot of natural light even for such small windows. I saw Hans and Anuschka … not enough! but at least four times, and as always become very tempted to make the move over to Brussels.

Anuschka asked me why I don’t write more, which reminded me, I’ve been working on a science-fiction(-ish) novel for the past year, and hit a god-almighty 13,000 words (at this rate will take me another decade before a rough draft is finished). I’d not touched it for a few months, and felt well-inspired, so bashed out / am bashing out several more scenes. Having never written a novel, and never got past a couple of thousand words on any previous attempt, I have no idea what I’m doing, so am proceeding by writing in the hopes it will become clear.

And now returned to Wedding, properly seeing Dasniya (compulsory lazytime), some rehearsing this morning (strange and glorious to get up at 8am to stumble downstairs at 8:30 and spend the morning working, me on abjection, Dasniya on whatever she’ll perform in Australia), finger is mostly healed – it looks funny with a row of stitches going a third the way round … pictures!

Abjection Rehearsals – Brussels

Neither Gala nor Ivo are in Brussels, which makes this decidedly weird being here; eating Piadina alone, sitting on the Metro alone … Hans and Anuschka are here though, and we had an excellent dinner on Thursday, and at least three coffees in three days, and I saw what they’ve done to their studio in Renold Space: wood-fired heating! It’s really, really beautiful, and I’m very envious as well as inspired. And now I depart for the impossible Tilburg. A mere long hundred kilometres away, it still takes 3 hours to get there. But once there, I get to see Daniel for one more time on ADT’s tour (and maybe Emile, fresh off the jet-lag run from down under).

In the meantime, I’ve slipped in a couple of days rehearsing in a secret location which shall remain nameless. More of the same from me. I think my ‘warm-up’ now constitutes much of the actual rehearsing, and it seems to be useful. It’s very methodical, and honestly if I turned up to a class of this, I’d probably hate it (unless it was perhaps Benoît or it was what I expected). I’m still turning up strange, lingering habits from when I mashed my knee last year, something to do on one side with whimpering meniscus not wanting to go into certain positions, so Gluteals don’t work and Psoas takes over, and a straight line between wonky Achilles tendon and Piriformis really not knowing what it’s doing.

The interesting thing is that all of this is quite small and built up from years of habits, but the process of finding these peculiarities and minimising them requires this methodical, patient workflow – spending an hour just working out what happens in my hips when I’m in child pose and would be about to roll from one side to the other.

And it’s never absolute either. What works in one situation at one speed isn’t entirely applicable to another, or even a different rhythm at the same speed, or different initiation of movement or attention. What is possible though is a phase space for particular movements, for example if I’m walking, there’s a variety of possibilities in how the movement happens, and through repetition I can build up a general representation of this, and subsequently which ones tend towards aberrance.

As for what constitutes aberrant movement for me at the moment, I just keep thinking of walking, which is more or less uncomplicated for anyone to do, whereas dancing is complicated, and so keeping in mind the uncomplicated physical feeling or perception of walking (which is not to say walking is simple or easy), I try and find what this is in any dance movement. Which leads me to lie on the floor for an hour analysing whatever is going on when I roll, or endless combinations of arm-swinging, leg-swings, or embarrassingly simple movement patterns.

Mainly I think that if walking is swinging, as in a pendulum movement, then so too must dance be, because it’s done with the same body. What’s come up so far is that it’s applicable across levels of complexity of movement; not just the ‘more things happening at once’ complexity, but the perhaps more interesting edges of movement, the ones where things get weird and awkward and usually get bashed through or otherwise cause horribleness. It also seems to allow for significantly more speed with less effort. All of which is the obsession of contemporary dance, and I don’t really want to contribute to that with some essentialist ‘natural’ movement programme, which is why I’m pointedly not reading or looking at any of the obvious similar techniques, be it release, or Klein, or whatever, even though I can’t escape them because that’s my training history and I can only ever work within what I know, or in reference to what I know.

Maybe to say it’s just me working out how I move, which is curiously something I’ve not done so much of; yes, plenty of thinking about it, but doing has largely been confined to other people’s classes and techniques. So it’s a little like messing around with a musical instrument and teaching myself to play, and it’s really not a technique or a style or a process or any other dressing up of what’s fundamentally me fucking around on my own for hours in a big room.

Which segues into my rehearsals. Which of course was most of my rehearsals. Music! From Abruptum and Gorgoroth and Mayhem to … Pulp! Jarvis Cocker. Oh Jarvis Cocker you are a dirty rocker. And the album is Different Class, which did lead to some useful reconsiderations of what I’m doing with my fingers, and also illuminated how distracting it is to work with popular music. Distracting as in it takes me out of my body, I no longer can feel moving because my ears are too busy. Black metal doesn’t suffer from this so much as it’s pretty incomprehensible and not very melodic. Which then made me think of all the classes I’ve ever done where the teacher puts on their favourite music and we dance to it, and that we’re not really dancing because we’re just doing the equivalent of Pavlov’s dogs drooling response because the music interrupts the physical process of experience of dancing. As nice as it was to dance around to Common People and Sorted for E’s & Wizz, it was unsettling to think that this habit of using music like this actually got in the way of training one’s self in moving.

All of which merits further musing, but I have a train to catch. More rehearsing next week, and quite a bit of going through videos and assembling stuff before then.

Lewis’ Blog

Some time last year, the darling Lewis Major, whom I first met in Brussels in 2010 when he came to Dasniya and my Yoga and Shibari workshop, and then arrived shortly after in Vienna where I was working with Hans (and Lewis’ joining in and subsequent lack of departure for New Zealand is a well-funny story), and who fast became one of my dearest friends, asked me to do a website for him. It was to be a blog-ish, dance and choreography documentation site. Funnily enough, despite having supernaut for nearly nine years, and having made a score of sites in the last couple of years, I’ve never really done a blog.

It turned out to be a mad romp through the world of WordPress’ Post Formats, and possibly most complicated site I’ve done. I decided it should be alive and not hidden a few weeks ago, and so undertook a final chaotic run through the code to make it ready, in the process swapping everything over to a new method which caused a little distress when I realised my cherished functions rewrite of a piece of core code handling images was no longer necessary (gnashing of teeth!).

And what else? It was also my first real attempt at Responsive Design, the current Flash of the internet, which means it’s supposed to look well-tasty on any size screen (in practice that’s wishful thinking) – and now I do everything Responsive; it’s like having proper table manners. It was also one of the last sites I did with the amazing WPAlchemy, because I discovered the even more amazing Advanced Custom Fields (I needed nested repeaters, and as well, it’s just much quicker to work with), hence aforementioned chaotic run when I swapped all the code over from former to latter and made dance with the very nice WP Post Formats.

Which is why supernaut has also started Post Formatting with Video and Asides and Statuses, because while doing Lewis’ site I was drooling at how good this stuff is and it made me want to blog more, so I stole some of his code and slipped it into here.

And other things? Gallery Post Formats using the full-screen SuperSized code, video and audio with MediaElement.js, a lot of jQuery to pin everything together – I think often my ideas are way far ahead of what I can actually code and I’m guilty of some horrendous travesties.

Typography! There’s quite a lot. Headings are done in the very “obnoxious as it is loveable” Antechamber; all the meta info is in Logisoso – very ‘Logistics’; and the body text is funnily enough in the seductively calm and sedate Fontin. I find it very readable. Oh, and icons are a mix of Modern Pictograms and Entypo. Yes, sticking to one font and using it well, obviously.

Looking at it now I’m thinking, “Oh, I could change that layout and that typography,” and maybe I shall make some small changes. In the meantime, Lewis is writing like a true blogger, and that makes me very happy.

Lewis’ blog is lewismajor.info

And now for some pictures. (Mostly of the test content, as Lewis hasn’t written much yet. Yes, I use Abruptum and Bathory for test content, and my 404 page is always a quote from Chuang Tzu. Really, each and every “404 Not Found” on every site I make is a small moment of Daoist contemplation.)

Gallery

Hans’ New Workroom

I went to see Hans’ new space today, which I’d heard about from Anuschka just before coming to Brussels. It sounded like a lot of work; basement machine shop with decades of oil and other dance-unfriendly substances leeched into concrete to be turned into SOIT’s rehearsal space. It also sounded like it could be one of those fringe shoehorning of artistic necessity into somewhere that works but is always slightly at odds. After all, basement mechanic’s workshop and “The ceiling’s not really that low” …

Turns out to be beautiful.

One street back from the canal near Nord Station in an early-ish Modernist building now turned over to ateliers and studios, of the concrete type with massive metal-framed windows; the long side faces south and any sun is unhindered by adjacent buildings as it’s just parkland all the way to the next street.

The descent is perilous, around a tight and dark concrete spiral staircase into the washroom, and then, opening the door, even though the windows are high on the wall, there is more than enough light. Hans and the others working on it have wedged a couple of opening windows in as replacements, and a trio of extractor fans from a chicken farm as well.

The floor, having been thoroughly stripped is even sprung; a combination of wooden panels resting on thick slats, in turn resting on three layers of rubber tiles acquired as throw-aways from a Metro station. Carpet from another source will sandwich between that and the tarkett.

Hans and Joe were still laying this when I arrived, and there’s still a lot of work to be done before it opens, and the photos don’t really do justice to the size, but it’s easily big enough for a group to work in, and the ceiling really isn’t that low, and for winter there will be some heaters.

Which is to say I’m very envious and inspired, and also very happy Hans and SOIT now have a home. It’s beautiful.

Gallery

SOIT – Messiah Run!

Hans and SOIT have been in Berlin the last few days during Tanz I’m August, and working on Messiah Run! at the Ufer Studios. Convenient for me it’s just across the road (with Café Pförtner in-between), so I wandered in yesterday mid-afternoon to watch where it is up to.

They’re around half-way through the development period, with more weeks and months coming up before the premiere in January next year. Even as it stands, had I seen this in a theatre billed as a performance and finished work, I would have been quite thrilled. Yes, I am a fan of Hans (yes, I’ve worked with him too). I really like watching his work (as well as performing), and that I wished it was me there during the chair avalanche rather than watching (and taking photos), is probably all I need to say.

They are at it again right now, and again Saturday at 15h. I would go again, but I’ll be in Madrid.

Gallery

a body – gala moody at the volksroom

The coffee is made thus: In a small bowl two teaspoons or so of sugar for every cup is added. Once the coffee begins to run out of the espresso machine, the first trickle is poured onto the sugar. This is beaten with a spoon until taking on a pale brown colour, emulsifying. Into each small cup, two viscous spoonfuls of this amalgam, and then the coffee on top, stirring until a crema floats on its surface.

This is the coffee of Giacomo, who has been in Brussels the last week and an half while Gala finishes some weeks of rehearsals in a single performance at Ivo’s Volksroom, along with Anuschka von Oppen, who was showing Nearby Buffalo in Brussels after a short season in Berlin.

Gala and Giacomo haven’t been sleeping so much the last week; long nights working on the set, lighting, rehearsing, rewiring, trying ideas and pre-show amendments (a whole scene vanishes, and the sound from a previous one also). Coffee is in abundance, as is beer and cigarettes. A calmness across the days also.

I found myself in the place I am happiest: a theatre, making performance. I do mundane things such as taping things, hanging things, adjusting things. This is not a review, though perhaps can be taken as one.

Throughout is a stillness, waiting attentiveness. For a dancer who has found home in companies where movement is the heart, she makes nothing that could be said to be dancing. Perhaps the floor on which she rehearsed is responsible, but equally, there is no inconsistency between one being a dancer who dances and the same one making performance far removed from this. At the end (less than thirty minutes), had she continued the room would have gone with her.

Rope bondage and suspension. Gala hangs sideways from her waist and abdomen. Giacomo dresses her in a sheet of emergency orange latex. She is in a box inside a room, walls of opaque or transparent plastic, floor reflective Aluminium. Lights stutter and tremble.

Giacomo illuminates the performance with perhaps twelve or so sources, some recognisable as theatre lights, others fluorescent tubes, others common household lamps. At times, a fan pushes the plastic sheeting, undulating and filling the space with sound.

She is naked until the end. This also is a change; before she was naked the whole way through. In the end she is talking, in jeans and a t-shirt. A story, autobiography? A poem. She is swimming, no water, no, definitely water, water goes in, goes out, polluting a little. In ten years, twenty years, only a photograph left. I am paraphrasing here.

Earlier, she is running. On the spot. Endlessly. Throwing dirt or dust or ashes, which haze in the aura of light. Giacomo … his lighting is as music, classical music perhaps. Deeply artistic and romantic, and also precisely technical. Without being obvious, it fills the room, gives not simply form and colour, but emotion, movement, sense, time. He says we should come to the Gorini home, to eat rabbit and drink coffee.

I spend Friday with them watching this, light and performance, trying to find some settings on my camera that will not balk at the conditions. Low light is one concern, and ultimately the difficulty I can’t surmount. The plastic sheeting between Gala and I, the other; the camera resolutely focussing on any light reflecting off the sheet, making her even more unfocussed.

This morning, more coffee. Then a failed trip to the markets for crëpes, arriving too late. Anyway, it was beautiful, poignant. Some photos.

TWO SHOWS: Nearby Buffalo and memory/such mich

From Anuschka von Oppen, who will be in Berlin shortly for a piece I (think I) saw some of in Brussels late last year and thought it was rather good.

Nearby Buffalo & memory /such mich

Nearby Buffalo

ein Tanzstück von Annuschka Von Oppen

Annuschka von Oppen untersucht in ihrem Tanzsolo “Nearby Buffalo” die Verbindung zwischen Bewusstsein und Unterbewusstsein. Der Körper wird erforscht, als hätte er keinen Namen, keine Erinnerung, als schwebe er wie ein Geist.

“Ich wache auf, in einem Garten, oder vielleicht ist es ein Feld, ich bin mir nicht sicher. Ich höre nur das Zirpen der Grillen und ich habe das Gefühl, dass ich hineingezogen werde in einen unermesslichen Raum, als sei dies der Anfang der Zeit.” AvO

Konzept / Tanz: Anuschka Von Oppen
Komposition: Jason Sweeney
Sounddesign: Eric Faes and Anuschka Von Oppen
Coproduktion: Pianofabriek Kunstenwerkplaats
unterstützt von: company SOIT
Residenzen: Pianofabriek, Bains Connective and the Norwegian Theatre Academy- Ostwald University

memory /such mich

ein Tanzstück von Katja Scholz / die elektroschuhe

Erinnere dich.
Es war hier. Du hast sie gesehen, oder deine Phantasie täuscht dich.
Bilder tauchen auf und verschwinden wieder.
Sie sind zu zweit, selbst wenn du sie nicht findest.
Ihre Farben verblassen.
Ist es nur ein Spiel? Ihr werdet verlieren, wenn Ihr Euch nicht erinnert.

Konzept / Tanz : Katja Scholz / die elektroschuhe
Sounddesign: Katja Scholz

goat snake witch dance theatre blackness

The last couple of days I’ve been working on a side-project, cleaning up my dance/performance/choreography website, francesdath.info. I decided a while ago I wanted to move it into WordPress, change the font to Anonymous Pro, and try and make everything I would do by hand-coding possible through the WordPress browser editor.

Success! (Mostly). The design hasn’t changed, except it’s been cleaned up a bit, and a more structured layout used. The video took the longest and was a rather intense learning process, which is going to fall over into some other projects I’m working on at the moment. The words I edited a bit, but mostly left alone. Some time I’ll clean that up also.

As for ‘goat snake witch dance theatre blackness’, I couldn’t decide which word I liked the least and somehow they all sit together quite nicely, like an excess of baroque.

Gallery

ein blick über café prückel

The day after opening Parsifal, we went to Bar du Matin for breakfast, and of course who should be there but Hans and Harold. Hans gave me a copy of the DVD of Café Prückel, as well as sent me some screenshots. I’ve been meaning to put these here ever since, so for a complete change from the last two months blogging… “What I did last summer…”