performance writing 6-21-2016


some writing-thinking on the workshop i’m teaching.

for context, see,_2016_Desire/revile:_An_interdisciplinary_performance_workshop_(part_2)

So I think a workshop situation like this where we work with the somatic (lie down, do exercises, touch each other, use ‘body’, use ‘voice’) then we work with the cerebral (write, talk, reflect, conceptualize) does a few things

1) It frontloads a body/mind split. By the methods and ways of speaking and working through this context of ‘workshop’ I seek to problematize that split, live in it, accept it, wrangle with it. I do not seek to provide answers or a word-able schema for understanding it, rather I seek to facilitate a laboratory for researching it. I want people to ask their own questions, perhaps build their own laboratories, based on this one. I have been trying not to answer my own questions about it, and though I feel like I ‘intend’ to ‘eventually,’ I am moving slowly. This is partially because if there are answers in my searching I don’t want them to be sloppy or based on talking with people, but a gleaning from several experiences over time. I am in a place of asking and searching, returning to old methods and creating new ones, and I am teaching mostly to see if folks want to research with me, or do their own different research based on what I set up.

2) It provides a terrain for recontextualizing the ‘social’ via that split. Putting folks in a situation where verbal interaction and interaction mitigated by technology is not primary, brings about ways of intersecting with the self and other people in new ways. It also positions desire in an interesting way. Of course, we always have to reposition our desires when we are in ‘social’ situations, or situations with ‘others’; we cannot always ‘do what we want’ but rather we negotiate, share space, ask questions, make propositions, etc. in these situations we are always dealing with our position in relation to others, we are redirecting our desires, we are shifting and moving toward them in new ways, and we sometimes are compromising and policing ourselves and sometimes satisfying our desires almost by surprise. That’s what this workshop is about: the very act of ‘being together’, specifically in this workshop milieu. So in some ways, it is a workshop about a workshop; it deals with the very elemental properties of a ‘somatics and performance workshop.’

3) There is a continual problem with ‘words’ here, I love words but I don’t think sentences always work so well. I don’t think using terms like ‘pre-verbal’ work because they are a slippery slope toward ‘primal’ and treat the voice as if it’s this archaic sun god, archetypal vestige of a time-hoped-for that doesn’t exist, providing potentiality for a dangerous and lazy nostalgia. That kind of thinking also reloads/re-powers the problematics of the mind/body split, putting value on the split rather than seeking to not think hierarchically in terms of value at all. “lzieiozreiz” is itself; “bitch better have my money” is itself; each functions differently and refers to different value systems, each is useful in this laboratory. People can use words, in as many languages as possible (though the situations I teach in usually move toward English, another big ass problem).

4) The same problem exists with the term ‘improvisation’, which then brings us to the talks about ontology, affects, values, and capitalism I’ve been having with Edward and kaia. Improvising is just like…making choices, in my workshops at least. It means I’m not teaching phrases. But sometimes I will ask people to make certain sounds, position their bodies in the space in a certain way, etc. those are not improvised but the way each person’s body works means they’ll approach it differently, which isn’t really improvisation either. And in terms of ‘types’ of action, doing somersaults is itself; turning a tv off and on is itself; each action functions differently and refers to different value systems, each is useful in this laboratory.

5) Another issue is how I’ve been preparing these workshops. I am mostly writing, thinking, walking around. I often wish I were ‘more of’ a dancer, and less of a thinker, but I think that is fucked up thinking that is based on a mind/body split and a meritocracy of art making actions I have in my head (“in studio movement process is the most useful thing” is what I’ve been taught). I have to move while the workshops are happening or otherwise I get a panic attack and go too quickly and feel super shitty, so I have to half participate or at least be doing something ‘physical’ to make the thing ‘work,’ as I see it. I like dealing with that panic by trying to ‘use’ my body to feel through what is happening in the workshop and teach from that position in the milieu, rather than a prescribed set of actions or words (although patterns and ideas do develop in that regard).

More information/material I am considering…here is some past text from a workshop I taught 3 years ago. Funny to look back on and see how I still vibe with it or don’t, and by ‘vibe’ I don’t mean ‘agree with’ or not, I just mean what I feel as if I’m still close to ‘dealing’ with or not: say “%%D\^\^&?.”

This means: Performance art is body-based work. I see lots of amazing performance artists doing work that pushes the limits of their bodies. But how can we truly attend to what it means to inhabit a body, or be a body, and then perform that body-person? As a (post?) dance-based artist, I’ve gleaned knowledge from practices like Authentic Movement, Qi Gung, and a mish-mash of (bastardized) somatic techniques that I have been sharing through classes and workshops. I will share this knowledge and then attempt to disintegrate everything we learn by introducing improvisational performance.

As an improvisational performer, I always notice that schismatic moment when I am about to perform, and suddenly everything I’ve ever learned about my body flies out the window and I’m laid bare, vulnerable, and my whole visceral, self-conscious self. I have to negotiate my presence with the audience through minding that schism between body and self, making it a new world to play in so I have more possibilities. This involves questioning my tendencies and motives, my sincerity, how I see and let myself be seen. I have devised various methods and exercises for my students (whom I see as collaborators) that we will play with to explore the mindbodyselfobjectsubject-things we are.

 I have been sharing this class with other performers ( ) and am excited to do so in a workshop format for the amazing BIPAF artists!

Animals, children, diaries, and drunk texts welcome.