iLand: Feedback & Final Impressions from Lise Brenner
I appreciated how carefully [Michelle and Hope] worked to make this an evolvingÂ experience that stayed true to both of your interests, and also took intoÂ account the feedback of the group. That worked very well, and I think itÂ was reflected in how differently Soundwalk #1 and Soundwalk #2 went – notÂ really that one was better than the other, but that they were both totallyÂ different experiences, exploring very different ways of framing the sameÂ basic ideas and raw material (‘found’ sound and questions about movement inÂ relation to that).
It was a great luxury to have all those mornings with my ears. I feel likeÂ I’ve NEVER danced without listening; I was very lucky in the musicality ofÂ my early dance teachers and I played the violin from the time I was 6. SoÂ sound (of whatever sort) has always been integral to my dancing andÂ non-dancing life. In that way I thought, what a funny thing to be talkingÂ about as though it’s something to be discovered; OF COURSE movement and soundÂ are deeply linked, influence each other, MATTER to each other….
But what was wonderful here was the chance to say to myself – just listen,Â the dancing will take care of itself (or not… but what did or didn’t makeÂ its appearance as dance movement during the two weeks was less interestingÂ to me than what the time built up in me to be generated later – which is,Â actually, happening now – I’m back choreographing for the first time in twoÂ years).
I found the activity of listening my way through mid-town and, especially,Â LIC, to reveal all kinds of ‘performative’ moments – or maybe a better wayÂ to put it is ‘found art’ moments. I think I finally get what Richard LongÂ was really up to, taking photos of the line his treading feet left in theÂ grass. I felt like we left a trail through LIC, or at least, LIC left aÂ trail on me – I feel a part of that neighborhood after that week of walkingÂ 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 – theÂ one thing I remember from physics class was e=mc squared – that energy has anÂ equal and opposite reaction – that if I push something it pushes back. ThisÂ was terrific information for ballet class 20 years ago, now it is somethingÂ to be reminded of again and again in situations such as: what happens in aÂ playground when a group of 12 adults say to themselves “it is ok if I end upÂ rolling on the ground” What happens in a paranoid country when 30 adultsÂ stand silently, single file, on a bridge over one of the major tunnelÂ entrances to Manhattan, standing, no less, over a huge flashing sign:Â REPORT ALL SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.
Who knew there was a symphony of birds waiting behind the parking lots onÂ that particular 1/2 block of 50th Ave. in LIC? Maessian (however you spellÂ his name) would have been enthralled…
So there was this mixture of high art/present moment/concept/walking alongÂ the dirty pavement wondering just how bizarre DID all this appear to theÂ non-listening New Yorkers just trying to get things done, as I stood there,Â listening.
I think the great thing, the great luxury, about something like iLand, isÂ the time and the fenced off space that you say to yourself: now I will doÂ this, and what comes of it doesn’t matter, it’s just the doing. NicelyÂ 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-upÂ and from a distance, the scale of Long Island City, the glory of weeds andÂ pre-planted grass, how hard trees have to work to survive and how kind ofÂ them to do so, that New York’s quiet spaces are being wiped away just likeÂ shoe repair shops by bigger and bigger buildings and all that comes withÂ them, that I am grateful to everyone who fought for the NYC park system,Â that I miss dancing every day, that 30 people, listening, standing singleÂ file, ARE a performance; that walking is ‘movement’.
It would have interested me to have a bit more ‘hard’ science about, oh, theÂ mechanics of the ear and other parts of the body that listen; or to talk toÂ someone who works with perception, visual and aural; or maybe one of theÂ people engaged with using music as a psycho-social tool, as with autisticÂ kids – there are so many possibilities. Next time…
Again, thank you to Jennifer, iLand and its supporters, Hope and Michelle,Â and EVERYONE I listened with day by day – it was a great pleasure andÂ privilege to be included.