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  • 10.29.06

iLand: Feedback & Final Impressions from Lise Brenner

I appreciated how carefully [Michelle and Hope] worked to make this an evolving experience that stayed true to both of your interests, and also took into account the feedback of the group. That worked very well, and I think it was reflected in how differently Soundwalk #1 and Soundwalk #2 went – not really that one was better than the other, but that they were both totally different experiences, exploring very different ways of framing the same basic ideas and raw material (‘found’ sound and questions about movement in relation to that).

It was a great luxury to have all those mornings with my ears. I feel like I’ve NEVER danced without listening; I was very lucky in the musicality of my early dance teachers and I played the violin from the time I was 6. So sound (of whatever sort) has always been integral to my dancing and non-dancing life. In that way I thought, what a funny thing to be talking about as though it’s something to be discovered; OF COURSE movement and sound are deeply linked, influence each other, MATTER to each other….

But what was wonderful here was the chance to say to myself – just listen, the dancing will take care of itself (or not… but what did or didn’t make its appearance as dance movement during the two weeks was less interesting to me than what the time built up in me to be generated later – which is, actually, happening now – I’m back choreographing for the first time in two years).

I found the activity of listening my way through mid-town and, especially, LIC, to reveal all kinds of ‘performative’ moments – or maybe a better way to put it is ‘found art’ moments. I think I finally get what Richard Long was really up to, taking photos of the line his treading feet left in the grass. I felt like we left a trail through LIC, or at least, LIC left a trail on me – I feel a part of that neighborhood after that week of walking there; the same way I did in Carroll Gardens after 10 years of living there.

For me, the workshop was a deep investigation into cause and effect – the one thing I remember from physics class was e=mc squared – that energy has an equal and opposite reaction – that if I push something it pushes back. This was terrific information for ballet class 20 years ago, now it is something to be reminded of again and again in situations such as: what happens in a playground when a group of 12 adults say to themselves “it is ok if I end up rolling on the ground” What happens in a paranoid country when 30 adults stand silently, single file, on a bridge over one of the major tunnel entrances to Manhattan, standing, no less, over a huge flashing sign: REPORT ALL SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.

Who knew there was a symphony of birds waiting behind the parking lots on that particular 1/2 block of 50th Ave. in LIC? Maessian (however you spell his name) would have been enthralled…

So there was this mixture of high art/present moment/concept/walking along the dirty pavement wondering just how bizarre DID all this appear to the non-listening New Yorkers just trying to get things done, as I stood there, listening.

I think the great thing, the great luxury, about something like iLand, is the time and the fenced off space that you say to yourself: now I will do this, and what comes of it doesn’t matter, it’s just the doing. Nicely European in this way…

So here are the things I thought about, as I listened those two weeks:

Land Art, the invincibility of birds, the beauty of Manhattan both close-up and from a distance, the scale of Long Island City, the glory of weeds and pre-planted grass, how hard trees have to work to survive and how kind of them to do so, that New York’s quiet spaces are being wiped away just like shoe repair shops by bigger and bigger buildings and all that comes with them, that I am grateful to everyone who fought for the NYC park system, that I miss dancing every day, that 30 people, listening, standing single file, ARE a performance; that walking is ‘movement’.

It would have interested me to have a bit more ‘hard’ science about, oh, the mechanics of the ear and other parts of the body that listen; or to talk to someone who works with perception, visual and aural; or maybe one of the people engaged with using music as a psycho-social tool, as with autistic kids – there are so many possibilities. Next time…

Again, thank you to Jennifer, iLand and its supporters, Hope and Michelle, and EVERYONE I listened with day by day – it was a great pleasure and privilege to be included.

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