Bacon’s dog

Bacondog

Study of a Dog, 1952
Francis Bacon
From http://bit.ly/c0ybS

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the body and walking

From Rebecca Solnit’s “Wanderlust: A History of Walking” (p.27)

The phenomenologist Edmund Husserl described walking as the experience by which we understand our body in relationship to the world, in this 1931 essay, ‘The World of the Living Present and the Constitution of the Surrounding World External to the Organism.’ The body, he said, is our experience of what is always here, and the body in motion experiences the unity of all its parts as the continuous ‘here’ that moves toward and through the various ‘theres.’ That is to say, it is the body that moves but the world that changes, which is how one distinguishes the one from the other: travel can be a way to experience this continuity of self amid the flux of the world and thus to begin to understand each and their relationship to each other. Husserl’s proposal differs from earlier speculations on how a person experiences the world in its emphasis on the act of walking rather than on the senses and the mind.

failure

On Saturday 12 September Colin Poole and I performed a version of our duet “Colin, Simon & I” at The Place in London as part of the Touchwood season (designed to show works in various stages of development). We’d had about 7 weeks development (on and off), and there are some notes at http://colin-simon.tumblr.com.

The final section of the work involves Colin moving to sit deep in the audience, and then me effectively trying to ‘fail’ as a performer. At least I think this is accurate. We’d cultivated a certain degree of awkwardness in how I was attempting to be, but of course things only stay awkward for so long. So, we didn’t really rehearse it at all. I was left talking (addressing the audience very directly) and dancing and attempting to find out (and share) what it was like to no longer have Colin on stage with me, and also talk to the feeling of wanting to entertain them (whilst trying to avoid doing just that).

Long silences. Long pauses. Flurries of movement. Some music (which made me feel more comfortable for sure). Discussing a slight feeling of frustration that Colin had elected to ‘disappear’, a monologue about how he hadn’t really disappeared … and then, a missed cue from the ushers. We thought they were going to ask the audience to leave whilst I was still attempting to fail. They didn’t and I was left with a really close experience of on stage awkwardness. Excellent fun indeed.

But what is it to fail on stage? The ‘dying’ I’d felt in an earlier showing wasn’t really there this time – it felt far too easy to go into ‘entertaining’ mode. Is it to not know what is going on? Is it resisting training/experience? How can I do this?

It reminds me of playing tennis as a youngster: when there were certain parts of my game that I was having trouble with, one strategy for coping with this would be to develop control of the failure. That is, to practice various degrees of failure (say, hitting the ball at the bottom of the net, then a bit higher, then a bit higher still, then to just touch the top, then to pass just over etc). It goes against all the rules in sport of “perfect practice makes perfect” but it was a powerful way of ‘owning’ the failure … or being able to choose to fail (and therefore choose to ‘succeed’).

As a performer/dancer, perhaps it is in listening to the silences and the stillnesses, and how audiences are ‘coping’ with these that can step the practice of failing into the foreground? Of course, the paradox is that seeking failure opens up the body to all kinds of listening that inevitable is not failing at all. Ugh.

I guess another question is about why I’d want to be failing … but in terms of this work with Colin it had to do with absence/presence on stage. That is, it was an aesthetic or creative decision.

influence

Last Friday I went and saw Duncan Jones’ film “Moon” at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square. The film was wonderful—intelligent, moving, simple—and superbly acted by Sam Rockwell.

Afterwards, Duncan Jones led a Q&A with the packed audience (300+). He spoke very directly and passionately about the work (his first feature film). What was really fantastic was just how openly he described his influences, and how he is a fan of, for example, Ridley Scott (among others).

There is a certain generosity and lack of preciousness about sharing this information, and it seems like (from the outside) filmmakers are particularly good at owning up to influence, and even borrowing from others.

I am not sure that choreographers share this generosity. We seem to be preoccupied with owning particular notions of originality.

So, for the record, I am a fan of Helen Herbertson (Melbourne choreographer) … and of Jerome Bel … and of Kirstie Simson … and I think I am a fan of Duncan Jones now as well. There are others, but I need to do some work.