Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

Hello! first July blog post

This is my first post as the July MR blogger. I am currently in Milwaukee attending the second summer of my MFA at the University of Wisconsin. I have been writing and thinking a lot about meaning and interpretation in dance so I thought I would share a bit on this blog. Any thoughts or contributions to this dialogue are greatly appreciated.

Making Meaning
Throughout the past 10 years, I have become increasingly interested in the relationship between feeling, form and most recently, in the Aristotelian notion of Necessity. During my last process (Gutter Gate, 2011) this notion of necessity came to the forefront of the work as I began to wonder how abstraction could be necessary. What is necessary about shape, color or line and how can we define what “happens” throughout the course of a piece without being able to locate the “defining event?” I became disinterested in describing the narrative as non-linear. I felt like I was poaching this term from an historical and theoretical languaging tradition which said very little about my work and the kind of narrative I was interested in pursuing. Structurally, Gutter Gate (our last piece) dealt in a series of chaotic groupings that referenced certain interpersonal conflicts and milestones but never claimed them. It was a challenge to extend beyond and develop these “meaning” moments and not rest on the thorny defense that it’s “non-linear.”

We were also developing a rigorous movement language which kept pointing to a specific kind of time, a thinking kind of time. To generate material, we located the genitals, lower intestines and the heart and began practicing a series of Body Mind Centering exercises that focused on moving from these singular places. We also located skin and bone as vibrant and critical initiating points for the movement and I noticed how muscle and bone also seemed to cantilever off of these organs. It was about showing the body working hard, working something out on stage. You could see the body and the mind strategizing. A more intentional kind of time feels like you can see me, the maker, working. The viewer is able to see the necessity in the timing because the action of learning is related to a task. The “doing” or learning body replaces the performing body.

Treading between a cooler aesthetic and a hotter emotional inclination, my thinking about content has shifted for the new group work I am researching. How do I locate the “event” or cause of a particular dramatic action without falling into a kind of reasonable logic that will negate the structural risks I want to take? Instead, I want these “conceptual” or more emotionally resonant moments to shift the work structurally. Making it less about what the content is, and more about how its timbre can impact the formal logic of the work. I want the compositional integrity to be mapped by an abstract understanding of content and its ability to willfully attend to structure and resist being taken over by its conceptual or more “meaningful” tendencies. The “event” or defining moment, that some might read as content will be used as a tool or texture rather than defining narrative hook of the work.

Is this just a slipperiness on my part not to claim the content or “it” of the work? I am also curious about the whys and whats to sticking by the form and how that is in some ways also thorny. That self consciousness almost makes me want to curtail meaning and employ abstraction for loss of control or moreover to avoid interpretation. Hasn’t that been the role of post modernism over the last fifty years anyway? To say that the distinction between form and content is an illusion?

–Juliana May, Movement Research 2011 Artist in Residence

Gutter Gate excerpt

Scholar’s Corner: POLITICS OF PIETY

As a doctoral student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, I am currently preparing to take the long-awaited “Second Examination” in August. This consists of a rigorous set of written and oral exams on three scholarly fields that I myself have defined. In this way it is unlike the much broader “First Examination,” which covered all of theatre history and theory in the widest possible scope.

My three fields are as follows:

1) “Approaches to Embodied Practice” (30 books)

2) “Actor Training in the U.S. since 1930” (25 books)

3) “Affect, Politics, and Performance” (25 books)

With the idea that these topics could be of interest to the Movement Research community, I will be posting brief discussions of some of my favorite books here throughout the month of July. Each of the books I will address was published in the past ten years, and each is excellent overall. They are all scholarly works, although some are more accessible in tone and language than others. I hope that these blog entries will point theory-minded practitioners towards some new ideas in emerging scholarship — and perhaps tempt some scholars to the website of Movement Research.

Read the rest of this entry »

No computer access

For the thousands of you that have been following my blog, Ive been on a mini tour to Venice, and now off to Paris, and do not have access to a computer.  However, I will post some blogs about my experiences performing in Venice, collaborating with Xavier Le Roy and Marten Spangberg, ‘perfect movement’ with Salva Sanchez and the deep thoughts brought on by endless Campari spritzers and Negronis just as soon as I’m able.

Until then, New York, my sometimes love, I am beginning to pine for your gridded streets, your coffee with real Half n Half and Bourbon with real bitters, your fast-walkers and electric feel.

haiku time (or Something new is created, the body animates, and embraces the impact)

in search of a truth

she clamps her mouth down on it

foaming lips, and waits.

miriam wolf is a 2010/2011 Movement Research AIR currently on exchange at PARTS, Brussels.

When I was Quiet and Let the World Speak

Over this past weekend, I was for the most part without social or even verbal interaction with other humans.  It was my first weekend in Brussels, I had freedom from classes, 70 degree days, my friends here were out of the city, so I was on my own.  I found myself at sea amidst a bustling urban landscape of voices that, because of the language differences (and there are many here) carried me along like a wave of noise without comprehension.  I allowed myself the freedom to get lost and  to have no destination.   Luckily I was free of time constraints or social duties, and as my brain quieted and began to release its normal anxieties, I was finally able to see out of the corners of my eyes, absorb the world with the pores of my hands, smell the currents of love and fear that eddied around me.

Some things I saw:

Paternal Affection: the amount of public love/physical affection that Fathers show  for their sons is incomparable to the States, because I NEVER see it here.  I never see a father kiss his son’s head in NYC, or, after playing a game of football, lie down with him on a blanket in the park and look up at the sky.

Something else I saw, sitting in the park-a group of tourists, wearing bright blue and pink T-shirts (French I believe) this huge group all packed together, walking by me-there must have been like 50 or 60 of them…and it took me a moment for it to strike me, what was so odd about them: they were completely quiet.  And then, of course, I realized that it was a group of deaf people, speaking only with their hands.  And there was this switch in my brain where suddenly the whole image shifted for me.  This big silent group was like a walking flower garden in their bright blues and pinks, and their hands fluttered and expressed amongst them like pale long butterflies alighting from one blossom to the next.

I highly recommend finding a moment-an hour, 10 minutes, to exist inside yet separately from this world that is a constant inarticulate clamouring for your attention.  After all it is these moments that confirm for me that I am, in fact, alive.

miriam wolf is a 2010/2011 Movement Research AIR currently on exchange at PARTS in Brussels

a body without organs

The impossible thing about making work is that you cannot change the context.  whether in the conventional theatre space or outside it even if I trick you and surprise attack you with a performance, there is still the context of a performance.  Therefore, the spectator always comes into the performance with this context in mind.

how to dissolve that so there is a possibility of making a new relationship between performer:spectator?

I wonder if the only way to do this is to create impossible problems that have no solution. there was a philosopher who did this/talked about doing this (i cant remember the name) but he and a group, for example, took a map of France and used it to get around London.not possible. but changing the context.

Our bodies are constructed a certain way- two arms two legs one head heart lungs etc…that is the context of the body.  is it possible to still have a human body but with a different organization of the organs within it? as in-lungs where the spleen is, heart where the kidney is….well, no, but-is there a way to create a dance with that same idea? im stuck with the body/context of a dance performance holding some kind of automatic expectation for the spectator-but how can i rearrange the organs so to speak within the dance so that it functions differently?

I have to say that i don’t usually think in such conceptual terms as an artist, but the projects I am part of here at PARTS have been making me approach the creation of work/movement vocabulary/material from a very brainy place.  This is not very comfortable for me, and I don’t even necessarily believe that it leads to the kind of work I want to present, but it certainly is stretching me, challenging me, and actually amusing me.

There is something intrinsically healthy feeling about being forced to create with a completely foreign set of tools. it emphasizes the importance of having an outside force that breaks the patterns of our lives- Both from our personal relationships with other humans and from our relationship with our creative process.

I leave you with this question: Is the responsibility of an artist to create the possibility for a new response? Not to actually create the new response or idea, but simply create the opportunity?

PARTS Exchange: chapt 1: european keybords

European keyboards are hard to write on. my fingers are having a hard time erasing their muscle memory and creating new synapses in the brain to allow for quick and easy flow from brain to page. which makes me think of the numerous ideas, patterns, judgements, pre-conceived notions and perhaps fabricated sensations that i have lugged with me across the ocean from the new york dance scene to Brussels/PARTS. Speaking of which, if you see any Qs instead of As thats why. and i cant find the apostrophe button, clearly.

there is something both delightfully charming and harmlessly irritating  about being surrounded by these young dance students again.  I cannot find fault in their sureness in themselves or there slightly pretentious attitudes, because i recognize the universality of the student experience.  I was one of them too, and enjoyed that spoiled existence of structure, opportunities being given rather than struggled to get, classes instead of work…and though it feels slightly indulgent, I have, like the proverbial worn-in sweater slipped back into this world of continuing class and released the learner within me.  I have to say though, that there is a huge difference, and it is this: I am now so aware of the struggle and challenge that life after school is, that there is no possibility of taking this time for granted.  in this month i have the chance to recreate myself into whatever kind of student i wish to be, because no one knows me here-my faults or my strengths .  I cross my synapses and wish to live- This i do solemnly promise: I will do my best  to withhold judgement, soak up what is given, participate to the fullest, be brave but humorous and respond with a critical, yet compassionate mind.

more to come

Last Post for Now


This is my last post for the month and as I said before I have greatly enjoyed writing online. I’ve been working in an Ice Cream shop for the past five days telling myself to keep being interested in the movements I’m doing, in the work I’m doing. It’s difficult. Has any movement practitioner out there also working in a service industry been able to find fulfillment in their work while on the job? When you’re literally moving to make ends meet? But not in any sort of immediacy. You can’t literally heat, eat or shelter yourself with the money you’re making. Well not in a way that is actually going to sustain you. It seems to me the money transaction has overshadowed so many other transactions that allow us to feel happy and fulfilled.

We all know this quote – only after the last fish has been caught will man realise he cannot eat money – but where is the evidence of this in the day to day environment that sustains the lives we live? In the US the term “trade” still exists in everyday language. A term that was long ago forgotten by the British empire leaving only beg, borrow steal or BUY. I realised this when I came across “Trader Joes” – a shop that epitomises the abstracted notion of transaction in modern day society. An idealisation or nostalgic notion of commerce now defunct. If only…

The thing that I carry most from my time at Movement Research is the notion that learning is something that can’t be bought. The ways in which we share and experience are individual, cannot and should not be exploited. Self fulfillment, learning and growth. Gifts that are invaluable.

Tomorrow Judith Sanchez Ruiz is teaching at Labor Gras and I look forward to sharing and experiencing in an environment where these processes are given due respect. That’s what I take forward into my practice: my engagement with a form so intrinsic to humanity, to life, to survival that it is difficult to forget – even on the the 6th hour of a shift waitressing -that we have this gift of awareness of our existence. I am and always will be continually grateful, cultivating and nuturing this awareness wherever I can. Bis bald (Until soon)

Rosalind (former MR Intern)

My body now and then

This is probably the most personal blog I’ve written so far and I can tell you I’m really enjoying the process of blogging. I’m sure the sporadic nature of my life right now reflects in the spectrum of Blogs I have made. I used to be scared by this inconsistency. By feeling a lack of patterning or tangible patterning in my schedule. I wonder to what extent the patterns in my body, in my habitual movements extend into the way I structure my life? I wonder if my choices or should I say options are a direct result of the way I hold myself, the way I walk, the way I talk to people and how I perceive what is around me?As my movement patterns change through my practice, as they shift like sand I wonder where the ground is beneath me. Where is my reality at? WHAT lens am I looking through?I like working in dance because it’s tangible. When so many other things around me are fluctuating I can sense with my body the changes day by day and not be afraid of them.

I hope to continue this practice for many many more years to come.

Thank you Movement Research for making a space for this experience in our lives.

Rosalind Masson (former MR Intern)

On the Primacy of hearing

Embodied Wisdom, The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais. Edited by Elizabeth Beringer’ p.g. 50

‘While in your home or some familiar surrounding, blindfold yourself and live by your ears only. To begin with do it for only half an hour. You will quickly see how your awareness is mostly limited to what you see. Any creature who had to guarantee his individual safety and security could not survive if two-thirds of space around him was ignored and did not reach awareness. When we pay attention to what we see we cannot help withdrawing our attention from the better part of the space around us. A wild animal that does not have a samuri like awareness of what is happening around it and above it can not endure for long. You and I can do what a trained samuri can do: we can retain and extend our awareness to the Reality all around us. The ears did just this before their information began to be partly ignored and neglected, and before vision became domineering instead of dominant’.

  • March 24th, 2011
  • Rosalind Masson

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