This fall has been a juicy, terrible, terrific time for roses. In October, there was our beautiful screening at Ditty TV and a short residency for me and Bethany with fellow rose-artist Lauren Curry. We worked together to bring out a new solo for her, and she truly blew my personal mind by taking what I gave her, tossing it to one side, and revealing a quieter and more resonant truth, cobbled from mismatched songs, angles, a simple trajectory.
Bethany and I worked with Paulette Regan and Maxine "Silverbird" Strawder to craft simple duets for the event at Ditty TV that would give a general idea of what we envision for our pre-show, community-based portion: a nocturne for remembered dances, performed by older community members who have a cherished "move" or "two-step" from decades ago. Terrie Starr accompanied us on keyboard with an insomniac version of "When You Wish Upon a Star." This was a vivid dream come true.
Then Trump got elected, because of a stream of run-of-the-mill f'ed-up events, including an electoral system that is outmoded. Flowers everywhere sobbed and grieved, including the ones between our legs. Such a terrible and sad day was November 8th 2016.
And then we got back to work, which is what women do. Restoking the fires of our courage and faith in this project as all women must in their own projects of all kinds, in our bodies-of-woman, in this planet's example everywhere speaking to us, in ordinary people doing the best they can to keep their chins lifted, their kids, animals, gardens, businesses clean, safe and well fed, their trash to the curb on the right day of the week, their soul un-crushed by the weight of mortality, of expediency, of social pressures to fit in or get out.
So we are back on the beat. And I personally promise to do a better job of keeping in touch here and using what power and voice I have to uplift beauty and authenticity in an everyday kind of no-big-deal way.
We have to be more out of the closet than ever now. We must be more present to one another. We must reveal our true colors as they emerge and take in deeply from the offerings of others. All of this requires putting our cellular devices down and smelling the air and surrendering our preoccupations with keeping the stories of our lives in motion.
Thank you for sharing in this story bigger than any one story.
It's no secret to anyone who's seen ROSA and seen Pedro Almodovar's 2002 film, Talk to Her, that ROSA has stolen a few petals from that outrageous picture as well as from the dance muse at is center, Pina Bausch.
Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe here captures actresses Leonor Watling (left) and Rosario Flores (right) who portray a dancer and a bull-fighter who are both in comas and both being cared for by a male nurse who believes you have to talk to her. There's more than a few transgressions in this movie. It creeps under the skin and dances there.
Bethany and I recently spent a couple more days together--thanks to family willing to watch B's five year old, friends willing to host us and my two rambunctious and shedding puppies, and our rehearsal space offering us another helpful discount--and these days together were hard to describe.
Waking up with hours at the studio ahead--having talked through my rambling notes, threaded through both of our hearts since the last work session together in May, we sat with crumpled and eager morning-faces over our steel cut oats. Bee was looking at me with a confidence and trust I felt I had better stand up to.
That meant asking her a question, as usual.
Me: Bee, with all this where do we start?
Bee: Well, let's start with our relationship. It's where we are, and we'll know how to go from there.
Me; Why are you so smart?
Bee: And even better? I'm yours.
So we go to the studio and a window opened into a little world of furious emotion and crafting that neither of us saw coming--and yet we were not derailed. I have been looking into the history of mental illness and addiction in my family going back five generations and this work has been trickling like old water down a mountain in the background of ROSA since this year's revisitation.
Going our separate ways after this residency, new themes had opened up in the soil of ROSA.
What is it to watch someone you love making their own lives utterly impossible? really watch and not turn away?
How do you intervene or not intervene? What happens in your body as you watch? Should you close your eyes? Is there a value in your keen witnessing?
How does the dance you did as a young person live in you at age 100?
How does the dance you do at age 100 live in you now?
Where is the uncanny seem between the old and the new, and why does it slip and fall when we need it most to stay in place, like a faulty hem?
An old dress reveals a fresh whiff of peony. A new handkerchief releases the memory of the scratch of granddad's cheek.
Nothing stays where you put it even though you live alone.
These are the frightening pleasures of this particular creative process, as ROSA grows bigger, stronger legs and the four of us an ensemble begin to occupy it more fully. We need Lauren's voice more. We need Stephanie's voice more. We're working to fund those realities, and it's all coming together with gratitude, my White privilege of course, there's always that--and a few licks of hard work.
Up next: a score for Stephanie and Lauren inspired by TALK TO HER to explore long-distance until our next work session. Join in with us or comment with your thoughts, that'll be coming down the pike next weekend.
Meanwhile, I wish for you the time and space, at least a wee bit and hopefully a lot more, to let joy be your transmission.
Sarah and I worked intensely on ROSA for eight solid weeks, leading up to my move to Indianapolis. Since arriving, I have been doing my solo investigations for ROSA outside at Holliday Park, about 3 times per week. My son Grayson plays on the playground and I do my movement research near by. There is something to feeling so totally and utterly exposed. There I stand like the roses, who can not retreat. I feel the sun on my face, the grass between my toes, and gentle breezes that tickle the hairs on my arm. The breeze carries a whisper, "do not be afraid, for FIRE gives way to fertile ground."
Each time spring gently knocks on my door, I feel an aching in my chest. I miss my grandparents most when winter begins to fade. Sarah and I have been talking at great length about what remains. What remains after you lose someone or something? As each breath passes, what fades and what holds true? For me, it is my grandmother’s cheek; her right cheek to be exact. I can see every wrinkle, smell the "Shower to Shower" powder she doused herself with, and the red rouge she rubbed into all the beautiful lines and folds of her cheek. This is what remains. This is what holds true. What would it feel like to trace the lines and folds with edge of my foot; to dive down into the creases and roll and around in that gooey pink cosmetic muck? Her cheek no longer a cheek, but a new landscape to explore and embody. You can never hold back spring.
I am wearing an emerald green dress. My right arm and right side of my neck is covered in an elaborate tattoo. I am in a panic, hyperventilating.
I do not dream. Well, I do, but I rarely ever remember them, until now. I have had this tattooed dream four times in the last month. Each time the dream comes to me, the tattoo changes; it becomes clearer and more vibrant. How I feel in the dream is also beginning to shift. The feelings of panic and mourning are slowing beginning to fade, replaced by a feeling of restlessness. What lies ahead?
2015 was a creatively uncertain year. I could not quite put words to it, until Sarah invited me to join her in reading Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. In the chapter, La Selva Subteranea: Intitation in the Underground Forest, Estes talks about three-year periods in mythology being of mounting momentum. She says, “three years of something occurs, then comes a destruction, then from that ruin is born a new world of peace.” She goes on to say, “This period of time is sometimes characterized by ennui. Women will often say their mood is such that they cannot quite put their finger on what it is they want, whether it be work, lover, time, creative work. It is hard to concentrate. It is hard to be productive. This nerve-restlessness is typical of this spiritual development stage. Time alone, and not very far down the road, will take us to the edge we need fall, step, or dive over.”
I spent most of 2015 expending a lot of my energy pushing against those feelings of restlessness and uncertainty. I refused to listen to what they might be whispering to me. Surrender. Surrender Bethany. So, I set my intention for 2016, to let go and relish in the not knowing.
i recently landed 24/7 studio access. What?? Well-- it's not perfect-- it's a racquetball court-- but I am the ONLY person interested in this voluminous cube of space except between 6-8pm when it gets to strut its stuff as an actual court.
How hard is it for me to show up there?
The obstacles are significant.
Nonetheless I am proud to say I tricked myself into a new approach. It's called Sight Reading. Yes, like musicians do-- except they have sheet music. They look at it and try to play it right then and there. It's a measure of one kind of chops: speed reading.
For me my sheet music was a photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans called Kaskade.
Read it in depth but fast-- read the composition, the line quality, the breath and body and organicity, color, intention, mood-- take it in. Let my body look hard or soft at it, through it.
Then close the book, turn around and do it. Give it all back, high fidelity.
Whoa!! Whoosh. What?? Who??hmmm. Zoooom. Hahahaaaaaaa!!!!
Laugh at yourself. Because who does this? Who takes time out of their day to be so frivolous, and so precise about it at the same time?
Someone who has decided it matters to this one little somebody. That's who.
Gratefully and goofily yours,
These photos are by Matteo Servente. We went to the Pig Preserve to spend time with my friends and to dance with them.
Photo One is Yankee Wilbur asking what's up.
Photo Two is Abbie Christopher and me talking to each other.
Photo Three is Blue-eyed Wilbur and me in the high pasture after we shot our duet.
We will have a dance film coming out in January I hope, maybe sooner. Gotta look at the material and see what it says.
I just don't really have words for what I'm experiencing. Perhaps I'm going over the deep end, and for that I will be forever grateful ... to the Pigs.
For those who replied to my prior post, I have so many things I want to say to you, about the language these Pigs speak, about why A.C. chose me and how I chose him, and what this learning/collaboration means to me. I want to hold your questions and not answer them just yet. But please stay in touch with me. Bethany and I are putting together the next release of the state of the union for my Piggy project and her Cotton project. We are seeking locations for december 21/22, still tentative. Meanwhile thank you so very much for your care, your questions, and maybe even your concerns! :-)
Rich Hoyle, Tyler, the Pig Preserve, and to all those who share their realness deeply and broadly with others, regardless of species. May your magic stay unbridled. Maggie Rawling-Harstad, who believed in the magic in the first place. I would not be who I now am without your love, support, and visionary impetus to make all of this come true.
Dance Makers Workshop is now in the afterglow of a week-long depth charge of dancing with the kind and generous, supportive and challenging guidance of Elizabeth Corbett.
Above you see Friday's final session. We took a break from thrusting and orbiting through a phrase from Enemy in the Figure to look more closely at details and sparks from what comprised it in the making. DMW's photographer in residence, Matteo Servente, dropped in and captured a few moments of learning.
A few of us met for a "Nine Points Playground" study hall. The Nine Points are a product of Rudolf von Laban, but the way Forsythe applied them and the way Elizabeth incorporated them into teaching improvisation technology left us with lots of open curiosities. So we rented space and went over notes and tried things. It was pretty hilarious.
Bethany and I thank each of you who made this workshop possible. It was a labor of love and the echoes are still rippling.
The Halloran Center and the University of Memphis were as generous as Elizabeth was with their space and energy.
Here's to this dancing life!
My only regret is that it was so hard to convince a sufficient number of us to participate, but Bethany and I both realize that time and money to advance our creative discipline is not easy to generate and safeguard. We are so grateful that as a community we were able to do that adequately this go-round. enough to make it real. that's all we need, folks.
Kurt Vonnegut said that-- and Chris McCoy quoted him this week in the Memphis Flyer, thank you Chris and Kurt.
I still don't have words for what I experienced yesterday. But I want to thank you, my dear reading family, for your care and participation in my process of becoming who I pretend to be: someone a pig might see as an equal, and a friend.