motto capitalism
November 1, 2008

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.

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run run dry dry run
October 8, 2008

yesterday we had the showing, a kind of dry run for the sound and light technicians, and for three coaches (sempai) to watch and give feedback. then there were Matsuo, who wanted to see my run, and me. we didn’t get a table as tall as the other observers, and we didn’t get the sheets with all the information of the pieces, but it was ok. we also didn’t get the special individualized martial salute that the other 5 got, but that was also ok.

so we watched the run of the 13 short pieces (some are as short as 2’ 30”!), and in the end were asked to give a little bit of feedback to each of the makers. the whole event was interesting and I couldn’t stop making comparisons between this showing and the dry-runs at the SNDO. to start with, the around 20 or more dancers stood in four lines in front of us, and greeted each person with a loud formal phrase (I don’t know what they said) after one of them introduced each of the people that were watching the run (except Matsuo and me). it almost freaked me out a little bit… and then for showing the pieces it also seemed like it’s very codified how they indicate the beginnings and endings of the pieces, and the whole mechanics of speaking briefly (and rushing, of course) with the technicians while the next group prepares. but in the end, after it was formally concluded, suddendly it got reversed and they were all coming to us (the coaches, and Matsuo and me) almost demanding feedback. somehow, with the politeness a bit overthrown, the room picked up a very nice energy. I found it very funny.

and then, the run itself: it was very Modern dance, and somehow very Japanese. after noticing a certain expressionism and a certain cartoonesque absurdity coming back in several pieces I couldn’t stop thinking that these Japanese dancers grew up watching a lot of… Japanese cartoons. which actually felt quite beautiful and imaginative, and humorous – and it kind of made up for the modern dance things. or, actually, no, it didn’t. maybe it just made the modern dance look even less creative… in any case, some of the pieces were actually very well crafted and nice, even if it wasn’t very much my taste.

and then: the run of my piece. it was a bit awful, I have to say… dear dancers, if you are reading this, please don’t take it personal. but I felt that quite a few things that worked better in rehearsals were a bit lost in the run. it even felt better during the run we did half an hour before the showing. but I think the whole atmosphere was a bit tense (not only in my piece) and that spacing and specially timing got a bit abandoned. and, of course, some serious structural problems became also evident in the showing. it keeps amazing me how you just need to have someone standing next to you and watching with you to see, yourself, things in a different way, and to notice how bad some of your work is. so, conclusions are: the piece needs to be a bit more compact and it needs a lot more nuance and dynamic variations. some of  it should come out of the improvisation, but I also think I need to bring some more complexity to the structure. a few cues here and there, and maybe some extra new elements – as simple as possible, because we don’t really have time to bring in new elements, but I’m thinking of very simple variations of things we already do. in any case, I remain positive and I seriously look forward to the coming rehearsals (x3). it is also exciting to rehearse when you feel like you know exactly what you need to work on – no ponderings, no hesitations, just practice. so, let’s see… 3 more rehearsals to go, 13 dancers (minus someone missing every time), a structure that is almost complete, a movement quality that needs not get lost, some improvisation that needs a bit of work… I think it’s enough to keep us entertained until the performance day.

one more before the break…
October 2, 2008

it still feels shocking and natural at the same time the way in which time runs in this process, and how I end up measuring progress minute to minute. today we had the last rehearsal of a nice row of 6. which is the clearest mark that we’ve passed the half, and we are entering the last stages. now we have a 3 days break, a rehearsal on sunday and a showing on monday. teachers, lighting designer and coaches are coming to see a run of every piece, to start defining the order of the program and probably give suggestions and feedback. also to ask about technical needs and scheduling. I am already getting nervous about it…

today I tried to make a short warm up, to be able to move faster into the work. I wanted to start trying out some structural decisions, though I think I was a bit indecisive. I keep trying to have open rehearsals, but then feel very blocked if I don’t have a detailed plan of activities for the rehearsal. ironically, only when I have very clear ideas of how to work in the rehearsal I manage not to use them, and come up with new ideas for trying something out spontaneously.

in any case, I did try to see how things might look together, and to give the performers (for the first time, I think) a feeling of how the coreography will actually be. but we still did it very loosely, putting a couple of things together first, then a different couple of things, and just checking the possibilities to shift from one movement behaviour to another. it made quite evident how simple the materials are and how much precision they need on some aspects. if the dancers don’t dance with a bit of a lower center, for instance, the whole walking/dancing pattern we use is quite boring… maybe when they do it with a low center is also boring, but I like it. it also creates a very different feeling of a group behaviour. etoo, we also took some time to go over those patterns and try to clean them up a bit. I confess: I am trying to get some homogeneity in the movement here…

all in all it was quite nice, though rehearsals are feeling shorter and shorter. the last thing we did was to take a look at costume possibilities… what an awful moment. costumes are so definitely not my thing…

eye candy
September 25, 2008

no, it's not the same shop where they sell the Che Guevara ashtray for Y 47 000

yay!! hyper-consumerism has arrived!! and: no, it is not the same shop where they sell the Che Guevara ashtray for Y 47 000

isn't it a typical SNDO name?

rehearsal nr. 2 – Bon Odori
September 24, 2008

2nd rehearsal. quite interesting. I am still struggling to get rid of my skepticism around the possible results of this process (a.k.a., ‘the piece’), but the process does have its very exciting moments.

today I asked about Bon Odori, a kind of traditional dancing that is part of a not completely religious summer celebration. I read about it some time ago and I got quite interested in the form, specially in the idea that people learn this dance just by joining the performances. o sea, every year in the celebrations people dance the same dance, and the ‘younger’ learn it just by dancing together with the ‘elder’.

I found it even more interesting because I (mis)understood that there was a kind of special spacing to this – in my imagination the elders were dancing in a small circle in the center, surrounded by succesive layers of people with less and less knowledge/experience of the dance. so the whole form (in spite of not being the real thing) became fascinating. but today I learned that there is only one big circle with everyone mixed, and that the steps are actually quite simple. there are some variations according to the region, and everyone of my dancers participated in it many times but not very recently…

but, in any case, after missing all the Bon Odori events (they take place in July/August), I got a private presentation in the studio. and after playing for a while with the Bon Odori dances, we started playing with the form. we split in two groups and created two short dances. we ended up very short on time, but we managed to dance each dance once (-isn’t that last sentence beautifuly cacophonic?-), one group in the center and the other imitating from the periphery. this relations between informed and uninformed performers, and between center and periphery are very interesting at the moment. I am already trying to come up with ways of using that kind of (open) forms, and I am already scared of it being too scary for these dancers.

I’ve also been thinking a lot of using the voice, somehow in ways related to what I did in the last piece. I would like to ask them to sing (we did today, a bit, trying to sing the songs of the Bon Odori while dancing), and I keep hoping that my lack of knowledge and total incapacity to coach them in the use of the voice are not more than minor set backs.

approaching worku-shoppu day
September 18, 2008

tomorrow is the work-shop day and I am quite nervous about it. it’s a nice nasty sensation. last time I was teaching was about 4 years ago, I think… maybe a bit less. so a lot of water has passed, and I think I’ve changed. I still like very much the idea of teaching, but I am afraid of fucking up, as anyone could be. will the students like the class? will they benefit from it? will I have a nice time, or will I be wishing soon for the end of the class to come? and maybe even more scary: will the students want to do a dance piece with me after meeting me in the workshop?

the deal is: I am teaching a one time three hour workshop tomorrow – after the workshop we will discuss about my interest in doing a new piece with (some of) them and the logistics for it, and they will decide who wants to participate in the performance. so, as of today, I have a 16 people confirmed for the workshop, but I don’t really know if I will have any dancers for the piece… but better not think about that for now.

instead, let me tell you about the workshop. my chosen subject is improvisation as a tool for research (a.k.a., movement research). since the workshop is finally very short I chose for one ‘simple’ axis of work: space. while I try to think about the structure of the class, and prepare things, it’s entertaining to trace back the roots and origins of the excercise that I’m interested in using: ideas that come from the classes with Gonnie Heggen, Laura Moro and Katie Duck, mostly, and then some other important influences, though maybe less specific, like last may’s workshop with Deborah Hay. and luckily enough, there are also some more personal ideas that seem to have been building up through my work, specially since my 1st year piece in SNDO. so I hope it will be cool… I specially hope I can (and maybe them also) have some fun with it. I’ll tell you on thursday evening…