research LAB #1 - dancemakers 2014

I am prepared, and I have no idea what is going to happen.

Ellen, Rob, Amanda, Simon and I are in the Dancemakers studio, starting from inception, seedlings, and the pops of inspiration that freak me out and keep me up at night. So we’re here, chasing that art-allure feeling, and attempting to find ourselves, against the incomprehensibly vast tapestry of outer space, dinosaurs, hyper-empathy, telekinesis, staring into our eyeballs, and all things overwhelmica.

What’s captivating (for me) about this scatter of things is they align a common feeling: a sense of being completely lost in an endlessness that I have no capacity to understand, and at the same time a warm sense of belonging, or feeling located/positioned/found. Turn up the cheeseball rock anthems. We did.

Our emotional playlist for the week is made up of songs that take us to specific times and/or places, past or present. Songs that transport, transcend, illuminate identity, influence outfits, are a bit ironic, completely sincere, and might be good for a facebook share now and again.

Just as that Brandy song helps a person locate him/herself along the continuum, so too does the gaze (in a much more immediate way). When I see you, I see you seeing me. When I see you, I see a representation of you seeing me within a construct of reality. What I see, in you seeing me, is the version of myself I want you to see, consciously or not: woman, white, sister, idealist, pleasant/painfully avoids conflict, doesn’t make too much $, etc. There’s something about this gaze thing and performances that I’m curious about. What’s the allure of sitting in the dark and staring at a representation of some kind? What does that performer keep seeing out there, just past my forehead?

Then there’s empathy, and locating oneself through the perceived experience of another/the other. But the mirror neuron thing seems a bit half there, like we humans could do more to affect our evolution. Mirror neurons don’t stop people from doing heinous things, so why should we expect performances about mirror neurons to change humanity through flexibility demos and pain face? We can do better.

So we’re working something with the gaze, and empathy, on a scale of outer space. Here’s a few hypotheses we've got so far (since this is a research lab, here goes): 1) It is possible to enter the physical sensation of another body, to the same degree of intensity. Locations may vary, and touch is not required 2) Disorientation thrusts a person into the present 3) Unified movements don’t indicate unity 4) Telekinesis is possible, and equivalent to the power of suggestion.

Our starting place feels super personal and self-referential, but the structures aren’t, they’re just structures. We are working with choreographies of opening and closing (the gaze, sensation, joints, spaces between joints, the room, physical perception etc), and building practices of hyper-empathy, cellular exchange through space, and undermining representation,

Armageddon will always trump petty differences.

The best way to ruin an artwork is to explain it.