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”.
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.
A visit to the giant porn supermarket next to ACarts yesterday, to search for any book I could find on instruction in Shibari しばり, Japanese rope bondage. The woman working there said, “I dunno … I just work here”, but rifled through all her magazines and turned up “Japan Bondage 9”. I’m particularly fond of the photograph of the suspended woman with the birdcage hanging from her groin. So tomorrow I need to buy some rope.
That was not the point of today though. I really wanted to work through the “Rape of the Sabine Women” scene, a biting, fingers like teeth, grabbing, entangled limbs colliding with the floor mess of rape and orgasmic frenzy. It was one of those … processes … that is not like a moment of transcendental clarity, when you realise in a vertiginous wave how it’s all supposed to work, it was a blind stumbling away from what I know and don’t want to repeat and near to desperate and likely failure.
I don’t mind things not working, but the luxury of the slightly patronising, “Oh yes, all artists need to fail, for things not to succeed”, is only realistic when you have the time to deal with the residue of disaster. When – like all choreographers in Australia who endure the torture of miserly budgets and infinitesimal rehearsal periods – there isn’t really the time to indulge, the point when working through an idea should be discarded as a deadend is too close.
Biting, falling over, Paea with a brand new root canal, trying with everyone at once and no delineation between each cycle of collapse. It looks like a brawl. I have an idea in my head what it should be but to try and apprehend it is to see it slip away. So we go back to the basic elaboration of what works, the performance of teeth biting as well as the literal physical act, flesh remaining in this maw until the fall is complete and then for an instant more, or if it breaks apart, lunging to obtain that bite again. Lots of other things, just casual possibilities that need to be coaxed into foci of intensity the way undifferentiated cells coalesce and bloom into organs, viscera, bodies.
There is a feeling I get of unwilling apprehension, that I know I have to do a particular thing but if it doesn’t work … We were looking at a bunch of different paintings of the Rape of the Sabine Women, like what I did with Goya’s etchings Disasters of War in extermination, Shunga and Chungongtu in hell ad nauseam. Despite the not copious rehearsal time, I really want to not repeat what I know and have done. Yes I can make cool things from turning old paintings into performance by following a specific process, yes I can make steps, and I’m really good at it. I don’t want to ossify what I do now or ever otherwise there’s no point.
I do like working from paintings or film or photographs or … though. So knowing things weren’t working too well and really without some fundamental addition to all the teeth and fingernails it was not going to survive the evening, and time dwindling, just look at the painting, take stuff from it, like a memory, or amnesia, try and find what would have been the real trajectory of that person if the painting was one frame from a film and …
Something about Bacchus and Dionysis, not just getting drunk with some nymphs but consuming in a frenzy until it erupts in an orgy of fucking, drinking, brawling, tearing each other apart, not pleasant or nice or polite but terrifying the berserk ecstasy and cataclysmic madness and not wanting to stop. I think we got there, Paea has this intensity within her body, earlier she was just whirling like a dervish, Xuan both panic stricken and rapaciously lascivious, and Tara caught in a loop tripping over, bursting to her feet. It made me twitch, I wanted to not be just watching, far away on the outside.
I don’t really know how it’s going to work with the biting, I can see possibilities but … always but. But … Japanese Rope Bondage Porn!