This is a vaguely seasonal post that falls under the things part of On dance, art and things.

Here is the opening paragraph of Harold McGee’s section on chocolate in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (p.694):

Chocolate is one of our most remarkable foods. It is made from the astringent, bitter, and otherwise bland seeds of a tropical tree, yet its flavour is exceptionally rich, complex, and versatile, the product of both fermentation and roasting. It’s consistency is like no other food’s: hard and dry at room temperature, melting and creamy in the warmth of the mouth. It can be sculpted into almost any shape, and its surface can be made as glossy as glass. And chocolate is one of the few examples of a good whose full potential was first revealed in industrial manufacturing. The chocolate that we know and love, a dense, smooth, sweet solid, has existed for only a tiny fraction of chocolate’s full history.

In other words, chocolate is awesome.

Happy New Year to my three readers (including Mum).


ticking things over

I spend a lot of time talking to students and professional practitioners about the nature of practice, and the importance of finding a way to maintain daily practice. Indeed, if students are even half as bored of me talking about it as I am, then things aren’t good.

Since September I have been doing what could only be described as ticking things over in terms of a dance practice. I go into the studio early, dance very briefly (with no warm up) and then leave. It has felt unfocused, slap-dash, and I have no idea if it is of any value.

Late in September, I happened to select an Oblique Strategie[1] that said Distorting time. More than a worthwhile dilemma it has (very gently) been with me since that time, fading in and out of my attention.

Yesterday was my last day of practice until the New Year. I thought I’d video a couple of minutes to send to my friend Don Asker in Australia (he and I have been swapping videos of our solo dancing these last few months).

Here it is:


For all of that ticking over I’m starting to get a feeling for something that is interesting to me. It has something to do with the nature of surprise when feeling and watching simple dancing.

  1. I’ve been working with Eno’s Oblique Strategies for some time as an arbitrary way of informing my thinking and attention as I am dancing.  ↩

letters to future students

I stole an idea recently from Brian Croxall who apparently stole it from Patrick Williams: Simply put, I asked my current third (and final) year BA screendance students to write a letter to current second year students who might be thinking about taking screendance in autumn 2014.

7S0A2017 copy

The students had a lot of fun with the task and wrote some quite choice things.

One student wrote:

I’ve noticed/learnt about myself as well as what’s around me. I think I see/observe differently now …

Another student wrote:

So here’s some advice: Don’t ever stop questioning. Be curious. Be open. Have an hour per day dedicated to this module. Read the blog! Ask questions. Question yourself. Keep going. Follow your interests. Be excited!!! When you get pissed off, keep going! And keep eating well!!!

And lastly:

Simon is extremely sarcastic[1] so don’t take him TOO seriously. But he does know what he’s talking about so USE HIM! Squeeze the fucking juice out of him because before you know it the module will be over. Do your fucking thing, take fucking notes and fucking have fun! So if you’re willing to work your ass off then this module is for you.

The collection of letters are available as a single PDF here: 20131206 – screendance letters to second years

  1. The students mention my sarcasm quite a bit. I’m not proud of this at all (I seem to remember being taught never to be sarcastic in a teaching and learning environment). However, this ironic tone is so closely tied to my sense of humour, which in turn is tightly bound to my teaching style, which itself is about finding ways to make a fool of myself so that conventional power structures in the classroom might be undermined. Tricky.  ↩