Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category


Driving through the rain last night, heading right smack into a rainbow on I90, like he was the treasure I was headed toward.  No doubt about that.  I was excited, nervous, and slightly lost, on my way to Earthdance.  And then there it was, all lit up at the top of the hill, just like the last time I saw it.  God, I love that place.  I scrambled out of my car, left the dog in the front seat, and ran up the stairs.  Steve was just coming out of the main house, and we hopped in his truck to go up to the B&B of sorts, to have some quiet.  So stay tuned, you’ll hear the interview right here at MR, ‘cause I got it, the recorder worked and everything! And he WAS everything; charming, thoughtful, dismissive, honest and very moving.  Very, very moving.

Sondra Loring, co-curator of the MR Fall Festival 2011

Rigor Sustainability Devotion

In the Meriam Webster definition of Rigor – “2. is short for rigor mortis…  From Latin, to stiffen.”

In beginning this blog posting, I have passed through a bit of this. A kind of holding.  And to write  requires me to have the first part of the definition of rigor – “1. the quality of being extremely thorough, exhaustive or accurate; severity or strictness.”

Rigor added to a process engages a ceasing of other activities, a channeling of focus on a singular attention.  It is more than discipline; it is having some kind of fortitude to use all that usually distracts one towards a particular frame, fulfilling it.  In a commitment or promise or agreement to undertake something with another or others with an independent mental engagement, I have to honor that commitment, that promise, that agreement.  I cannot just go bake more muffins (although I did this morning, hence eating while typing – a blur of my rigor or sustenance for it?)

So, o.k. then there is Sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

this is a dance performance

Quoted from Andrew Wass’ blog on 10.22.2011 (

A fashion show is a dance performance with an emphasis on costume.

A concert is a dance performance with an emphasis on sound.

A construction site is a dance performance with emphasis on set.

A play is a dance performance with emphasis on text.

A fireworks show is a dance performance with emphasis on lighting.

A dance performance is a dance performance with emphasis on movement.

A presidential debate is a dance performance with emphasis on performer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Studio Time – Some thoughts, photos and a poem


My name is Michal. I am a choreographer and a performer and this is the first time I am writing here. Recently I’ve been working mainly on solo performances, and that means that I spend most of my time all alone in the studio. I believe this is the motivation behind my attempt here to invite you to my studio. To visit the studio is to share in a constellation of thinking, moving, questioning, sometimes hating(mostly myself), dreaming and so much more.

Our time in the studio, so essential to our creative process, is often passed over in silence, and it’s no accident. The studio mediates between our daily routine, sometimes banal, sometimes intimate, and the stage. Between our lives on stage and off it. It’s messy, somewhere in between the private, raw experience that seeks its expression, and the processed, sometimes polished, end result.  This is a first attempt to put some of my experience in the studio into words (and pictures):

I’m not sure whether it was always this way or if it’s a recent thing that presents itself as having always-already been there, but in any case it seems I always find my self walking around with this feeling that if I  just make one tiny mistake, one careless movement, the tower of cards I have built will collapse in a heartbeat.

I believe I am not alone with this experience… and the word that comes to mind lately is –


This word in itself seems to me so lonely and fragile but it also has a very strong presence.

Frightening and frustrating as this fragility may be outside the studio, it is precisely what I seek in my studio work and performance.

That fragility of the moment, the image, the body. What keeps me on my toes.

The frequently changing meaning. The movement of meaning.

Enormous tension in every action. Alertness, urgency in every step.

Having something at stake, something to lose. Between risk and opportunity – to succeed or to fail,

to win or to lose.

The studio offers me a secure and intimate environment, that allows me to give myself over to fragility, the condition for the emergence of a rare moment of truth.








*Photos from Chez Bushwick studio, were taken by Michal Samama

Hezi Leskly (1952-1994) was a poet, a critic and also a choreographer.
Here is one of his poems which I am always inspired by (with a translation by Yuval Kremnitzer, who was also very helpful with writing this post)

The Triumph by Hezi Leskly

The struggle between listlessness and labor,
ended with victory on listlessness side.
I wanted to announce the news,
but annunciation is laborious.
I wanted to embrace my friends,
but embracing is too complicated of a pa de deux.

I wanted to drink a glass of water,
But the water was a thousand light years away from the glass.
There will not be another round.
Listlessness has won.

Michal Samama, Movement Research 2011 Artist-in-Residence


I hope everyone is surviving (and thriving) in this hot summer city. Meanwhile, I have saved perhaps the most difficult book for last.


The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory, edited by Theodore R. Schatzki, Karen Knorr Cetina, and Eike von Savigny (Routledge, 2001) is a collection of essays on practice from the perspective of social theory. This means that, although many of its examples are drawn from embodied practice — some even from the performing arts — it is most of all concerned with practice in the broadest sense: “fighting together, hunting together, sailing together, singing together, even, in the present-day world, doing science together” (25).

Read the rest of this entry »



Given the recent focus on embodied knowledge in dance and dance studies, I would like to draw attention to the field of physical education. Both dance and “physical education” are founded on the notion of education through and of the body. It is also true that in many schools and colleges one can get “phys. ed.” credit for taking dance classes. Yet the world of professional and experimental dance still feels very divorced from the world of physical education.

Read the rest of this entry »

Eiko and Koma

Last night, for the first time I saw Eiko and Koma Perform at the Lynden Sculpture Garden produced by Alverno Presents in River Hills Wisconsin. The day before, I had participated in a workshop with the artists who took our grad group through a series of sleeping/dreaming scores. When Eiko & Koma arrived in Milwaukee Wednesday afternoon, three days prior to the performance, they changed the site from where they had decided during their earlier site visit. Instead of an idyllic spot near the south bank of the garden’s large pond they chose a dried out pond. The staff had to construct a low platforms in the middle of the dried pond full of dried algae. At 6 pm the performance started with capacity audience sitting around the dried pond in the remaining heat. Following Raven Eiko & Koma performed a variation of Event Fission for which they took off their Raven costumes and covered themselves with flour paste. This year marks an important retrospective for the artists who will be performing throughout the country in addition to free concerts in New York. Go to their website for performance dates.


Nearing the end of my summer in Milwaukee. Elizabeth Zimmer came to UWM and gave us a workshop on dance criticism. We went to a dance concert and then wrote a 300 word review by 9 am the next morning. Each of the 24 participants had to read their review out loud which was a humbling experience to say the least. Elizabeth spoke a lot about using descriptive language in order to show your opinion instead of blanket statements that say very little about the action. While I understand the importance of documentation and description, I also want the critic to take a stance. Now, there is a difference between taking a stance and annihilating someone’s piece in a polemic.

Juliana F. May Movement Research AIR 2011



James Thompson’s Performance Affects: Applied Theatre and the End of Affect (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) opens with the story of a massacre in a Sri Lankan “rehabilitation centre” for former child soldiers. Most chillingly of all, Thompson suspects that a program of applied theatre that ran in the camp several months before the massacre may have been part of what led up to the killings. Not in a direct way, of course. But Thompson wonders if this program, which he was in charge of, was part of the Sri Lankan government’s overall political strategy. In other words, he wonders if his theatre work was in this instance unwittingly complicit with the machinations of the Sri Lankan government — part of its own effort to perform respectable statehood on the stage of international politics.

Read the rest of this entry »



Finally, I arrive at a book that is explicitly about dance: Judith Hamera’s Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the Global City (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). Although this book does not have quite the coherent structure or unified argument of the previous two, it does accomplish something that I called for in my previous post: It places ballet and Pilates training (among other examples) side by side and examines them each as embodied practices, rather than segregating them on account of dance’s public role as one of the “performing arts” and the status of Pilates as a personal rather than public practice. Read the rest of this entry »

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