This past fall I had the pleasure of collaborating with Jarrad Powell and Robert Campbell on performing John Cage's STEPS. Attached is the program of the event, and below is the original written movement composition I generated through engaging with Cage's score under Jarrad Powell's generous guidance.
March 22nd, 2013, 12pm, we will perform another version of STEPS at Cornish College of the Arts, Main Gallery, which will be the culmination of a week-long exhibition of the December 14th, 2012 performance containing video documentation, the paintings and the materials constructed for the performance.
STEPS, A Composition for a Painting (1989)
Three Paintings: Disintegrating Loop, 12 Parameters, 24 Breaths
Three 15 ft long x 4.9 ft wide Fabriano Watercolor Paper, 2 troughs & 6 Hake brushes of varying length. (Troughs and Hake Brushes were beautifully designed and constructed by Reilly Sinanan.)
5 dancers: Shannon Stewart, Mary Margaret Moore, Corrie Befort, Alia Swersky and Beth Graczyk
For the December performance Jarrad Powell accompanied STEPS with a chamber version of Cage's Atlas Eclipticalis with Winter Music, featuring Angelina Baldoz, Stuart Dempster, Julio Lopez, Roger Nelson, Jarrad Powell and Paul Taub.
Movement Score – An interpretation for a 30-35 minute performance of STEPS
Part I - Beginning
All dancers begin seated near canvases. Dancer 1 counts 12 breaths. After 12 breaths, dancer 1 begins Part II.
Dancer 1 begins a spontaneous movement pattern across the canvas, tending to the sensual, experiential action of stepping, forming a looped pathway that extends the whole canvas, drawing from the movement poem provided. Dancer 2 watches. The third, fourth, fifth dancers are facing away only able to see Dancer 2. As Dancer 1 finishes the loop on the canvas, Dancer 2 repeats the spontaneous actions of Dancer I as closely as possible emulating the quality, rhythm, and speed while Dancer 3 begins to watch. As dancer 2 ends, dancer 3 repeats what dancer 2 executed. Dancer 4,5 and 1 are now facing away. This pattern continues through for 3 full cycles of Dancers 1-5. At the end of the third cycle, Dancer 5 dips their feet in ink, and makes the final loop with inked feet.
Each dancer has a given number of events and movement poems that were derived from 12 parameters through chance operation using the I Ching. Some of the poems generated for the performance Dec 14, 2012 are below.
The dancer with the least number of events will begin the final section after counting 24 breaths. The dancer will continually brush with either a large full-length hake brush covering the whole canvas, or smaller brushes which cover only part. The dancer will dip the hake brush in watercolor and trace the canvas length-wise. As dancers end events from the previous section, they will join the action brushing with the additional trough. The action will repeat until all the canvas has been brushed.
Here is a handful of the 13 movement poems generated + the Disintegrating Loop poem:
The shifting weight of feet.
To change levels,
to subdue or muffle.
Moving from muscle,
the energy of blood.
To follow the linear, generating arcs.
Time parameter: medium length
To change levels,
to tie together.
Moving from the bones,
the energy of metal.
To articulate points in space – generating diagnols.
Time interval: short
Naturally weighted feet.
To move towards,
to tie together.
Moving from organs,
the energy of an ember.
To follow the linear, generating closed circuits.
Time interval: long
to subdue or muffle.
Moving from bones,
the energy of stone.
To follow the linear, generating diagnols.
Time interval: short
To change levels,
a shortened continuity.
Moving from the skin,
the energy of wood.
To feel curvilinear, generating arcs.
Time interval: short
The focus of this class is to engage in ideas of ritual, the divine, and the potential of the body as a vehicle to connect beyond our own ego or personality to something which we can feel as a collective and dynamic body, that arises out of the particular alchemy of the individuals in the room.
3 Movement Rituals:
Allow the duration of these actions to bring us into listening to our bodies' individual desires of movement. Follow a solo exploration of listening and letting our mind's eye take a ride in our bodies. Periodically take a snap shot with the mind's eye of the action/movement the body is generating. Accumulate snap shots. Return to the snap shots in the body by repeating them physically, eventually linking them together to form a sequence of events. Repeat the sequence until the body feels it as a cyclical ritual of actions.
A soloist performs their ritual as a continuous cycle for the group, until the group/witness understands the ritual. The group then replays the cyclical ritual exactly, but as a group, negotiating a collective memory, and emanating the quality, energy, speed and dynamics of the soloist. The group continues to repeat until the soloist, now the witness, feels and sees the ritual performed as a collective body.
Texts + Reading:
Read the texts as a collective. Read out loud and as a group. Interrupt. Overlap. Mesh. Speak and listen at the same time. Feel the sensuality of the words as they are spoken and heard.
“The ritualistic form treats the human being not as the source of the dramatic action, but as a somewhat depersonalized element in a dramatic whole. The intent of such depersonalization is not the deconstruction of the individual; on the contrary, it enlarges him beyond the personal dimension and frees him from the specializations and confines of personality. He becomes part of a dynamic whole which, like all such creative relationships, in turn, endow its parts with a measure of its larger meaning.”
An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film, Maya Deren
“I think little and therefore understand everything I feel. I am feeling in the flesh and not intellect in the flesh. I am the flesh. I am the flesh. I am the flesh and not intellect in the flesh. I am the flesh. I am feeling. I am God in the flesh and in feeling. I am man and not God. I am simple. “
“Camouflage is a hypocritical principle. I am a principle. I am the truth. I am conscience. I am love for everyone. I do not want bandits to be put in prisons or killed. A bandit or a thief is not a terrible thing. I am not afraid of bandits. I am afraid of revolvers. I know that everyone was a revolver during the war of the entire world of the terrestrial globe. I know that everyone was a bandit, I know that the government defended bandits because the banditry of governments is protected by governments. I know that God does not protect the government of those who make war. I know that God wanted this war. I know that God does not want wars and therefore sent terrors on men. I am a bandit myself because I kill my brain. I do no want intellectualization. I want rationality. I like intelligent people and therefore will not kill them with a revolver. I am not a revolver. I am God. I am love.”
The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky
"How does Spinoza define a body? A body, of whatever kind, is defined by Spinoza in two simultaneous ways. In the first place, a body, however small it may be, is composed of an infinite number of particles; it is the relations of motion and rest, of speeds and slownesses between particles, that define a body, the individuality of a body. Secondly, a body affects other bodies, or is affected by other bodies; it is this capacity for affecting and being affected that also defines a body in its individuality. These two propositions appear to be very simple; one is kinetic and the other, dynamic. But if one truly installs oneself in the midst of these propositions, if one lives them, things are much more complicated and one finds that one is a Spinozist before having understood why."
Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, Gilles Deleuze
+ Kandinsky poems - Water, Sound, Exit
* This particular movement action is inspired by Emio Greco.
Begin with space & sensation. Move around the room with your eyes open, finding spaces, textures to touch, colors to absorb through your eyes, as well as your body. See and feel the detail of the room - follow the desire of your eyes and body. Allow the body to store textures, colors, architectures, and locations through your vision and touch.
Eyes closed. Feel the body in relation to the space. Move in a way that follows the releasing of tension, finding a fluid body. Constant and gentle movement.
Eyes closed. Imagine your body in the Studio Current space. What is the image you build in your body/mind that places you in a space you can't see? How does your memory feed your sensation of the room, conjure your imagination with how you perceive the room?
Eyes closed. Imagine your body in space, moving - observe. What is the quality of your body in space? Is it heavy or light, dense or porous? What is its speed, its metabolism of movement? What parts of the space is it attracted to? What activities is your body drawn to? What is your body noticing about the space and its relation to it? What is your body's attention attracted to - is it color, texture, architecture, movement patterns, emotional state, or some unique meshing?
Become your imagined body live. Place your self physically in the tasks, place, and attention that you observed in your body/mind's eye. Begin a physical exploration of your imagined observations. *Play. Store 1. Play. Store 2. Play. Store 3. Play. Restore 1, 2,3, making a cycle. At first at a pace that is natural. Repeat several times. As you accumulate repetitions, pick up the pace, without loosing the richness of what you are re-storing or re-entering.
Accelerate to max speed. Sustain. Sustain. End.
Spinoza: A Practical Philosophy, Deleuze, Gilles, pg 123-129
Maya Deren - Poetry and the Film: A Symposium
Digest texts through playful, repetitious reading as a duet: interrupt, maintain a constant velocity, pause, feel volume as mutable, read with the individual observed qualities of your body but manifested through your voice. Potentially bypass the conscious digestion of texts for a subconscious digestion.
Feel the meshing of two viewpoints on a spatial geometry: longitude & latitude | vertical & horizontal.
Solo. Solo re-play. Using restore as a potential point of departure. As an observer/witness, what are the qualities, energies and my bodily experience of the solo witnessed? What are the affects of the soloist's body? What is it affected by? What is the soloist's metabolism of movement, the space, of events? Do I notice any relationship between the horizontal progression of the dance and vertical investigations of particular moments? Can I replay that?
Solo. Begin. Hold. Reverse. Sustain. Store 1. Repeat. Store 2. Repeat. Store 3. Repeat. Store 4. Generate a loop: Restore 1. Restore 2. Restore 3. Restore 4. Each time in the repetition allow the re-enter to interface with the present. Notice fluctuations in your velocity, viscosity, quality of movement, experience of space, temperature of the body, weight, etc. Allow the new experience of re-entering to naturally infuse gaps, cracks, and a porousness into a defined architecture. Sustain.
* Single word calls are derived from the work of Lisa Nelson and her development of the Tuning Score.
A must see! I'm going tomorrow night! Info here!