Photo: Jennifer Mazza
This process began with a simple desire to work in a new way, allowing content to emerge from the process versus from predetermined ideas. What has surfaced is an idea of marrying contrasts: deep admiration for the supremely virtuosic with curiosity about other kinds of performative presences—from the most casual to the most formal—as well as irony, humor, the familiar, and the personal. I maintain a firm value of an improvised aesthetic, and this piece plays with ways of calling attention to that. This piece explores a kind of puzzle-solving, which comes up by introducing known material among improvised content and having it remerge as something surprisingly recognizable. The piece contains a “bait and switch” with content that disarms through difficult physical feats, humor, and familiarity, then bends to expose vulnerabilities—both physical and emotional—that are further destabilized because one is never quite sure what is “truth.” The movement is contextualized by various kinds of spoken texts. Some things are mundane: “My eyelashes are too short,” and some are unabashedly personal: “I’ve cried more in the last two weeks than in the last two years combined,” while others are funny and absurd: “I had a pet pigeon named Frederick,” and yet others are more disquieting: “I think the most wonderful thing in the world would be to die.” A kind of melancholic underbelly emerges through such contrasts and from the introduction of an absurd set of exercises, which are sometimes explained, sometime not, including the imperfect singing of a pop song (that returns later), something called “strobe fall,” and various co-created events and challenges. In the first showing of the work in progress, the dancers took the space during intermission, and the audience slowly decided when to begin paying attention until all were seated and the house lights went out. This version of the draft was longer than it had been in rehearsal. A significant part of the research for me in addition to solving the unsolved questions about content and the balance between known and unknown material, is determining how to situate them in time—specifically in compressing time but maintaining the time necessary to keep it “real.” And once that is established, adjusting the actual duration of things as the piece calls attention to its own preconstructed performativity.