exit Japón, enter transformation

November 1, 2008 - One Response

sayonara Japón, I am flying away. have I changed? have I been transformed?  I am flying away, and when flying away I always wonder about change.

me, I like to be changed, I want it. but it is also disorienting. I like to be disoriented, but that can be tiring. and I don’t want to save my energy, I don’t want to save anything, but sometimes after change, after disorientation, after tiredness, sometimes I also feel sad. maybe being changed implies parting with oneself, one other self, one of selves.

performance research: for 2 months I’ve constantly been meeting new people and observing myself deal with that situation, observing myself present myself, observing which part of myself I allow to surface first. eventually, all of oneself or a lot of oneself is exposed. there’s no doubt about that. fortunately it’s not possible to hide. we know each other better now. though in meeting, in communication, it’s not possible to hide, one can pretty much choose an order, and try to coreograph the way one gets known. pretty much. and since in the meantime one gets changed anyway, then maybe we are safe from being completely known…

it’s obvious that I am not interested in being fully graspable. I want to be multiple, somewhat too big, and at the same time as open as possible. I want to have to be explored and I want to facilitate the trip.

in these 2 months I’ve constantly been meeting people. I feel those meetings (can, will, have) inform(ed) my ideas on performativity. Robert Steijn’s workshops come to my mind when I think that in choosing the way one presents oneself one tries to define the relation one will have with one’s audience. the way one presents oneself is the way to build up a (new) relationship. the way one builds up relationships is a way to build up oneself.

though it’s quite an inspiring reflective practice, the thing is that I also get very stimulated by it. in these 2 months I’ve constantly been meeting people, and it probably means I was constantly being changed. now I am flying away, and I feel a bit sad, and I wonder if I’m sad about parting with my old self or about nothing in particular. or maybe I’m just sad about parting with all the gorgeous people I’ve met in these 2 months.

thank you for everything.

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cute posers (more performativity)

November 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

I’ve been thinking about and observing social performativities. one of the thinks that caught my attention is the idea of ‘cuteness’, quite an important concept in Japan. to start with, it is what it is. cute means cute. but why I refer to it is because I think in Japan it occupies many spaces: cute is a style, and a way of behaving, a way of singing, a way of designing posters and using furry little mascots in every metro publicity, cute is using drawings instead of pictures, cute is giving characters big eyes and small bodies. in Japan they have words for cute: kawai, moé, and cute itself, of course. in Japan, male escorts (I’m not sure if they are prostitutes all the way) are slender, elegant, dressed and made up, and somehow feminin. my friend Dex says that way they are not threatening. my impression is that in Japan both girls and women generally like to pose as girls. a lot of them walk a clumsy walk, with knees rotated inwards, wearing high heels but constantly tripping over them. I am quite sure it is a fashion (and a sexual stereotype) rather than a generalized postural deficit (and: a fashion that might be rapidly increasing the ammount of women with postural problems). the idea, I suspect, is to look cute.

so, trying to get somewhere from all that ranting, though the whole cute thing doesn’t completely work for me, I am fascinated by how it works in groups, by it’s acceptance (or something like that). I try to be more clear: I think everyone sees it as a pose, but the cool thing (really cool social code?) is that everyone is cool about it. one poses as cute, and another one who poses as something else (we are all posers, right?) celebrates the cuteness of the first one. I find it surprising that different groups or characters don’t seem to define themselves (at least not so much) in opposition or conflict with others… is that very democratic?

maybe I already wrote about it in the blog?

November 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

I take the opportunity to note that Japan did strike me like quite a sexist place. like everywhere else, women and the female image are totally exploited for publicity and stimulation of consummerism. just the style might be different (they might look cute). and then both men and women seem quite used to the ideas that: men are priority, have to be served first, and housekeeping is basically a women’s affair. I hope this doesn’t sound too simplistic… I was really shocked by those codes, and I feel that Japanese people are really conditioned for it. I felt sometimes very uncomfortable.

motto capitalism

November 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

picking up from those comments on sexism, in the end almost everything takes me back to thinking about the logic, vices and (most recently and most problematicly) the merits of capitalism.

somehow Japan as a nation managed to overcome with enormous success a very hardcore situation. I’m not an expert on the subject, but it seems obvious that Japan’s evolution from 1945 to the present (or even just from WWII to the 1970’s) is admirable. and what’s interesting for me to think about (and super problematic) is the strategies and social models that were resorted to.

surely the social structure in post-war Japan can’t be disconnected from it’s previous social structure, but I have the feeling that the Social was very seriously engineered for economic growth. and yes, it sounds awful, it looks quite bad, but at the same time, the living standards in Japan seem far better than in many other places. so, I’m not proposing anything… I’m not trying to advocate for rigid social structures, or a moral of individual sacrifice. I just want to say that it does seem to be part of quite a big picture, and that when I think about it it makes me reconsider a bit, and it makes it more complex and difficult to criticize a system like that. that is what I meant before when I mentioned capitalism’s merits.

watashi wa tsuristo des

November 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

last week I was travelling a bit around Japan. When I planned to go there I thought that it was wise to make the most out of the trip, so I planned a long stay which should include visiting not only Tokyo but other cities. I bought myself a one week Japan Rail Pass (a flat rate train pass) and after the performance of the Dance Club, I set off for Hiroshima. I spent 2 days there (I posted something in the blog about it), and then left for Kyoto, were I spent 4 nights and used it as a base to visit Nara for the day. finally, I spent last Sunday in Osaka, righ before going back to Tokyo. all in all it was good, many beautiful sights to see, and some more nice people to meet. but I think it basically proved once more that I’m not cut for tourism. to be honest, I get kind of bored. I think I said this already, but I am not really interested in visiting a place. what really turns me on is somehow transposing my life (whatever that is) to a new context – that’s why Tokyo worked so well for me, I think. because I was still busy with my own artistic work, with meeting people, with cooking, teaching, going out, and with a lot of writing. my one week trip around Japan involved a lot of drinking, and some dancing (which was great), and hips and hips of walking, and it was surely a beautiful experience. but…

overdosed

October 31, 2008 - 2 Responses

last night on earth. tomorrow morning I leave Matsuo and Rie’s appartment for the airport, tomorrow mornign surprisingly early for flying at 1 pm. but apparently I need quite some time to get to Ueno train station and catch a train that will take me to Narita. and then, apparently, I am supposed to be there 2 hs before my flight. and on top of that, I want to have breakfast with my hosts, my new family. so much for sleeping over. I will have to get up around 8.

today was a bit of a strange day. yesterday, also, and the past few days. and, actually, the whole last week was also a bit strange. but today I reached the emotional peak, the peak of sadness, and the peak of feeling welcome and extremely happy to be here. today I was considering to stay here, to not show up at the airport, to drop everything and start a new life in Tokyo. ha… well that’s an idea that I’ve been considering for a while, and this trip seemed like the perfect occasion – but to be honest, I didn’t consider the idea very seriously. I just felt very sad this afternoon.

at this point, I want to be back in my appartment. no matter how welcome I’ve felt in the houses of my friends I miss being in my own place. but today it seemed a bit difficult to imagine being back in Amsterdam… what will I do there? or maybe I should refrase: today it seemed a bit difficult to imagine not being in Tokyo.

and then I went out. or, first, I visited Nick and Virginia, my first hosts in Tokyo (very classical form, finishing where one started). Nick and I will do a video project together out of materials from my performance and rehearsals, and we met to exchange tapes and talk, and to say goodbye. I hadn’t seen them for a couple of weeks, but they were a very important support upon my arrival to Metoroporis. I went out, I visited Nick and Virginia, and then visited briefly the Instituto Cervantes which is a potential space for potential future performances in Tokyo. I went out and visited Nick and Virginia, and Cervantes, and then came back home (I feel a bit embarrased and a bit proud of calling Matsuo and Rie’s appartment ‘home’), and spent the afternoon chatting with Rie, listening to music and drinking tea. and then I went out once more, incredibly nervous and sad, headed for my last appointment, a social activity with the dancers from the Ochanomizu Dance Club to give some closure (a concept I need to discuss further in another post, I think) to our work together. in other words: a dinner. and so we had dinner (Japanese style once more: some eating, a lot of drinking), and then went out together. I insisted on going dancing somewhere but it didn’t work, and we ended up doing Puricura – a very popular entertainment form that consists in taking group pictures inside a booth, and then adding some digital effects, and getting some prints… and after the Puricura we visited (yes, one more time) a Karaoke place. which was fun, though I have the feeling that Karaoke is something that works better with more time and alcohol. in any case the evening was a lot of fun and I got some very nice souvenirs (including my share of the Puricura prints).

now I’m trying to write about today, and I feel like there isn’t really much to say. I just need to express my sadness, to share it, to insist on how sad my sadness is today. it’s a very simple sadness, anyways, no big deal. I went out today, and went out again, I met with many people to say goodbye, and came back and had a cup of tea with Matsuo and Rie. now I’m feeling even sadder than in the afternoon.

I lay in bed and it’s not so easy to decide to sleep. beyond all the fantastic artistic experiences and fantastic networking opportunities, the most intense thing about this trip has been the ammount of love that I’ve experienced. it’s been brutal. like Tokyo. I am overdosed, and maybe that’s why I don’t want to go to sleep. it’s definitely why I am like I’m writing today… maybe. I’ve met so many people and I’ve been given so much love here that at times is almost difficult to deal with…

I don’t know what to write anymore, I am tired, and I have to wake up early. I don’t think I will manage to give better form to this post in the coming 5 minutes. so let’s leave it here. I think there is a lot and it is very eloquent, even in its unclarity or specially in its unclarity. thank you for reading, and thanks for being around.

Hypocenter – affect

October 21, 2008 - Leave a Response

I am fine, now. I went through the experience, felt extremely sad, shed some tears, fell silent for a couple of hours, and felt strangely well afterwards.

I caught a very early fast train in Tokyo, and travelled some 800 km in less than 5 hours. I slept most of the trip, and I got here feeling awkward. after such a great experience there, it wasn’t easy to leave Tokyo and to be once more completely alone. but I did, and got to Hiroshima, full of expectations and desires for some kind of intense spiritual experience. I was quite convinced (or hopeful) that the atmosphere in this city would be very special, introspective and profound… I wanted to get out of the train and breath the maturity that humanity must be gained for such an extreme historical event.

once more, expectations proved to be a curse, a strange trap, difficult to escape, deforming and limiting all subsequent experiences. so I got down of the train, and had an alienating little walk to the hostel in between game centers, shopping malls, pachinkos and plenty of just very normal busy people on the streets. Hiroshima ended up being somehow lively but in a strange undefined way, and I was surprised by some very posh areas and some big buidlings, though the city seems sort of small.

so I walked through the city, getting more alienated by very attractive shops – I felt pulled by the game centers, and guitar shops, and tea and coffee and tobacco stores, and by the collectibles shop, and handicrafts’, and many others. I felt that the whole A-bomb history was a fake, I couldn’t breath it, I couldn’t feel it’s reverberations. I wanted to be surrounded by some sort of Historical radiation in every street. I wanted Hiroshima to be the symbol for peace, until the moment I arrived to the Memorial Park Souvenir shop, where Hiroshima is that symbol, sold in t-shirts, mugs, flags, stickers, and more. I wanted the tourists to be more silent.

and then I got to the Museum, and the story changed quite a bit. I don’t know how good the Museum really is, but it felt like a theatrical experience and I was seriously moved by it. at some point I was reminded of the dance piece  ‘Revolver’, by Neuer Tanz/W. A. Wolff (which I saw in Rotterdam a couple of years ago). when I entered the museum, the first thing to see was a 4 minutes video clip accompanied by this ominous yet hopeful music, extremely dramatic, conventional and cheesy. and when I say ominous, I don’t mean only its atmosphere but also that it announced some serious cheesyness. but, what surprised me (and reminded me of Neuer Tanz), is that repetition and insistence transformed it. during my 90 minutes walk through the museum, I heard that 4 minutes piece of music over and over and over and over and over and over again. it penetrated my bones. and though it wasn’t the music that made me cry, it certainly started fitting after a while.

I also started noticing how the A-bomb images and the anti-bellic discourse seem to have permeated very deeply into Japanese literature (films, dances, books). yesterday, walking throuhg the A-bomb museum reminded me a lot of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga and animé ‘Akira’, of some of Kurosawa’s ‘Dream’s, of some of the Butoh imagery… sorry if I’m being a bit of a superficial cultural analyst here, these are just some impressions. maybe it was the other way around, maybe the imagery of the museum was inspired by all that literature. or probably a less simple combination of things.

like I said before, by the end of my long visit to the Museum I had been transformed. when I went back into the city I felt very well, kind of healed…

wrapping up official calendar

October 19, 2008 - Leave a Response

today I taught my last class at ArchiTanz studio, which means I finished with all my programmed-official-profession-related activities. it was fun, I proposed different excercises from last week, more oriented to movement and movement material (so less walking and more dancing). I had a bit more people (11 students) and it went well, though today I felt more exhausted by the language difficulties. I was impressed, though, and happy, to see most of the people from last class come back today. some people were really having a hard time to understand and follow me (probably not only because of language), but still they came and worked nicely.

so, that’s it, then. I don’t know if it’s time yet for a reflection on the results of this trip (though I seem to have started with it yesterday). but I think it’s good to acknowledge that the ‘official program’ is done. maybe it will help me to relax and enjoy the travelling of next week, which is actually more scary than all the rehearsing and teaching.

performed

October 18, 2008 - Leave a Response

now we are done. really. the performance is gone, finished, finito. so much adrenaline and anticipation for 10 minutes of dance (sorry, I meant movement)! but it was cool, I enjoyed the performance very much. we had a long day at the theater, with short times for spacing and light cues check, and with a dress rehearsal just before the actual performance. but it was fun, nice energy in the group and -I think- a nice audience for Japanese standards (though I may be completely wrong…). people were clapping less than I expected, but at the same time a lot of them clapped to the music in the (coreographed and musicalized) bow. I had my moment of public embarrasment when they called my name and I had to bow from the audience, and then everyone was happy. almost everyone, I think. some people where not so excited about my work, but that is expectable, natural and fine. other people liked it quite a bit, and specially the people from the University seemed quite positive, both the dancers and the teachers. we also had visitors from the Argentinian Embassy, the Cultural Aggregate (so the Japanese audience had the luxury of having 2 Argentinian Pablos in the same room at the same time!), and two Japanese secretaries who were very sweet in their Argentinian accented Spanish.

my coreography was quite nicely performed, I think. as usual, just the presence of the audience already makes all your flaws evident to yourself. the structure had it’s dips of energy, and moments where it was very difficult to have a nice (structural) timing. I also realized only today how much the piece was rehearsed for a small space like the studio, where I was never too far from them. specially using the voice would have needed a lot more practicing in a space that big. but a very beautiful surprise (I am very sorry to say that I didn’t plan it in advance) is that the movement and structures, and a lot of the spacing, worked very well for those distances and perspective (the 300 seats audience was higher than the stage, like in a flat floor theater or auditorium). it was nice to have an overview of the evolutions in space and group relations.

all in all, I am very happy with this experience. it was a great process of negotiations, finding communicative strategies for the rehearsals and constantly measuring the status of the process. this last issue of calculating progress in every rehearsal, being avaricious with time, is not something I want to carry on to my next projects, but it was an interesting training. maybe it’s good if it can become a subconscious skill, or an intuitive practice, instead of a neurosis of sorts.

also, I have been busy discussing with myself how much physical involvement do I need to have in rehearsals. I love to move with the performers, and it helps me to think, but it also keeps me away from watching, and that is sometimes a loss… but this is always a kind of dialectic of my rehearsals, and the thing is in this process it got very hightened because sometimes moving with the performers seemed like the only way to communicate some things. so, happily, I did not arrive to any conclusion, but it’s been good to have such a simple and serious question so present every time.

in this trip I’ve been enjoying also the concentration of being here mostly only for that project. yes, I had time to walk the city, do some sightseeing or other experiences, but my attention was very focused in the piece, and that was a very beautiful feeling. and though I don’t wish to always be somewhere where I don’t really live, for once (for one process) it was a cool feeling. or… I don’t know. maybe I can anyways dedicate all that mental energy to a project, because I do feel like that was more or less the case with the previous coreography. maybe I’m changing. maybe I’m learning how to be more focused… let’s hope so.

then after the performance we had a nice dinner, in the Japanese terms that I described many posts ago: a little bit of food, a lot of drinking. I was surprised at myself (about the drinking, I mean), to be honest. it was great, I had some cool conversations and finally got to socialize more with the dancers. I thought that it was very stupid of me not to have organized something like that (though more modest) before – next process I think the first task has to be: go out for a drink together. such a rich experience. we talked also about the pieces and that led to exchanging what we find interesting to see in performances… once more I found myself speaking pretentiously and posing a little bit, and once more I didn’t repress it because it showed me some of my own opinions on things. and also because I am starting to feel very comfortable with abusing the word dance in my professional vocabulary, trying not to fear that it might sound dull or lame, and trying not to let it become one very specific reduced idea. it’s fun… oh, and before I forget: we also discussed Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and (my beloved) Jackie Chan, masters of timing and movement…

well… I do feel a little bit empty and sad now, about leaving Tokyo and about not rehearsing anymore. I will miss the dancers and the studio. and I will miss this city.

hmm. I think I want more…

last piece of writing for today. I have a long day tomorrow, and I’m very tired.

October 17, 2008 - Leave a Response

last night, after improvising in the street and eating something, we paid a visit to one of the places I was still missing: the KARAOKE! but, to be honest, there’s not much to write about it.

I should just show you the videos 🙂 …*

* dear Matsuo, Rie, Yuki and Miki: don’t worry, I will not show the videos to anyone… nor will I publish them in Youtube… no, don’t worry… I probably won’t