Archive for July, 2010

The Week Ahead. August 2-8, 2010

Yanira Castro, Photo by Ian Douglas

Yanira Castro, Photo by Ian Douglas

This Week at Movement Research… Studies Project, classes, schedule changes, performances, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

masculinity as a lineage of technique

Tomorrow is the symposium on Masculinity and Embodied Practice. Apart from a problem with the digital projector, everything is going smoothly, and I am looking forward to an extremely interesting set of paper, presentations, and performances.

In my academic work, I am trying to re-theorize “technique” as something much deeper and more complicated than is usually assumed. Given how fundamental technique is in the performing arts, it is surprising how little it has been theorized. As far as I know, Foucault is the only major theorist to have written extensively on bodily techniques, and that from a perspective of domination and social networks of power rather than on the craft developed by practitioners of embodied forms.

A word, then, about masculinity as technique.

Let us compare masculinity with ballet. There are many iconic images of ballet, but ballet is not fundamentally an image. Nor is it fundamentally a language, even though some aspects of ballet seem to work like semiotics. Once upon a time, in Euro culture, ballet was dance and dance was ballet. Ballet, then, is the name for what people used to do when they danced. It also names a complex legacy of teachers and students, performers and choreographers, painters and royalty.

What if masculinity is not a single role or image, not a biological category, and not a universal signifier… but rather, like ballet, a powerful historical and formerly hegemonic lineage of embodied technique?

Ben Spatz
Artistic Director
Urban Research Theater
MR-AIR 2010-2012

intensity & transparency

intensity
that the body on stage is a different body. that rhythm on stage is a different rhythm. basic principle of performance: that it must be of interest, it must entertain. always something more, something different. not real life. not the mundane. not boring.

transparency
that the body on stage is the performer’s body. that rhythm on stage is the rhythm of that individual in that moment. the performance is life. it may be of interest, it may entertain, it may be mundane, it may be boring. honesty. truth. performance as an embodied practice. done simply in order to do.

This is a question we are working on now in Play/War. Is there a baseline of energetic intensity or hyper-presence below which the performer onstage must not fall? Or are there moments within a virtuosic performance structure when the actual mundane body of the performer can be allowed to appear?

In the past few days we have been exploring a kind of middle zone: Avoiding both the hyper-contrast of “show mode” (almost cinematic in its cuts and edits and discontinuities) and the hypo-kinetics of “plain old Ben and Max” (not cinema, not even theater, just a kind of blink, stop, and we-are-just-a-group-of-people-in-a-room, and then, simply, “the artists are present“).

In this middle zone, a new level of genuine contact suddenly seems possible between the two of us in the act of performing. I wonder if, as time goes by, this contact may extend further into the extremes of intensity and transparency, risking boredom and overstimulation, but perhaps making possible an even more full event to be seen…

Ben Spatz
Artistic Director
Urban Research Theater
MR-AIR 2010-2012

The Week Ahead. July 26-August 1, 2010

Vanessa Anspaugh, Photo by Ian Douglas

Vanessa Anspaugh, Photo by Ian Douglas

This Week at Movement Research…Studies Project, classes, schedule changes, performances, and more!

Thursday, July 29. Studies Project.
10 am. Medicine Show Theater, 549 West 52nd St., 3rd Floor.
Symposium on Masculinity and Embodied Practice
Hosted by Urban Research Theater*, in association with the Movement Research Studies Project Series.
*Ben Spatz, Movement Research Artist-In-Residence 2010 Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching as a Primary Practice

Imagine if teaching were a central value, a touchstone of our culture. Imagine if pedagogy were considered a core practice, perhaps even the most central practice, and the achievements of art and science were understood as secondary to the transmission of knowledge, including embodied knowledge.

Focusing on teaching as a primary practice puts the emphasis on the long term. It also tends to deemphasize what individuals may be capable of through talent or luck, and points instead to what remains possible over time (from generation to generation) because of the care invested in hundreds or thousands of unique teacher-student relationships.

That teaching is not currently valued in this way  is everywhere apparent, not only in the continual encroachment of standardized tests on primary education but also in the lack of financial support for projects of teaching and transmission. Grants for performance have been steadily shrinking Read the rest of this entry »

The Week Ahead. July 19-25, 2010

HeJin Jang, photo by Ian Douglas

HeJin Jang, photo by Ian Douglas

This Week at Movement Research…Studies Project, classes, schedule changes, performances, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Urban Research Theater: Summer Project

We have just begun our two-month long summer project at Medicine Show. Thanks to Movement Research for giving us the opportunity to post updates about our work during this time of opening.

I have been working in NYC almost continuously since 2001 (with a two-year break when I lived in Poland), but I have never had a space to call my own. I’ve worked in classrooms, student lounges, photo studios, dance studios, small theaters, parks and plazas, but I’ve never been able to host other artists in the space where I work. Deciding to rent Medicine Show for two months is a major experiment (financial, organizational, artistic) in production.

It began with our “Grand Opening” party last week. We actually hosted eight groups (about twenty artists/performers) in that one night. Photo exhibition, site-specific mural, dance, theater, video art, musical interventions, and Read the rest of this entry »

Voguing Study

For those who’ve been following my entries about voguing and are interested in learning more about the form…please join Archie Burnett and Benny Ninja at Peridance for class.  They continue to move me beyond words.

www.peridance.com

Cori Olinghouse -choreographer/Alexander Technique teacher, 2009 Movement Research AIR

Collective Unconscious

This year, I’ve been in the process of excavating imagery from Vaudeville and silent clown materials.  During this process, it has been inspiring to witness the many cultural associations, past to the present from these eras.

I am currently reviving a duet of Buster Keaton dancing with himself from The Playhouse. Costume designer, Andy Jordan and I have been working to re-create the Keaton double in original dress.  Recently, Andy came upon the John Galliano Spring 2011 show – a mash up of Keaton and Chaplin imagery.

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/S2011MEN-JNGALLNO?loop=0&event=show2142&designer=design_house26&iphoto=11&play=false&cnt=20

To see Dick Tracy-esque, leisure suits packed on a Keaton base and punk rock Chaplin, chimney sweepers – with white face, black eyeliner – in one glance, moves me through decades of history. Read the rest of this entry »

The Week Ahead. July 12-18, 2010

Jung Woong Kim, Photo by Ian Douglas

Jung Woong Kim, Photo by Ian Douglas

This Week at Movement Research…Studies Project, classes, schedule changes, performances, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

join our mailing list

upcoming classes & workshops

see all classes & workshops ›

upcoming performances & events

  • No Upcoming Performances or Events
see our performances & events ›

movement research feeds