Performance as Subject, Refusal as Right.

What happens when dance detaches from and refuses to enact specific certainties? What happens when dance refuses to indulge expectations of service? What happens when dance wants to understand and realise differently the notions of preparation, presence and touch? What happens when dance refuses to phrase, cue, demonstrate or take part in the idea of illusion making, not because of escapism, in terms of chasing a utopian idea of freedom, but because of an actual possibility to confront the given constraints with a deeper than the obvious sense of mobility?

This could be perhaps the first step to start asking how to move beyond the obvious, or how to move what does not seem to easily move.

Constraints, be it class, gender, sexuality, time, or artistic conventions, visible or invisible, are often felt as absolute, rigid, heavy structures. Yet they are carried. Constraints that are internal or external to the body, creating loop or circuit exchange modes, potentially attracting other kinds of constraints, building their own constellations and secret agreements of sharing. Can they ever be broken or actually just expanded or rearranged. And would it be precisely this rearrangement - always unpredictable, reversible and unstable - that gives the subject the experience of improvised freedom; an action of choice, strategy and realisation, combined with the blue acceptance of the paradox; we will never be free. We can never free ourselves from the struggle, the pressure that surrounds our bodies from multiple planes and dimensions, and sort of forcing a bitter awareness of a greater notion of weight. The world is pushing us down. Gravity as Grave.

And we can never get rid of the weight, our commonality with the superstructure of this world, the grounding reality for every being or not being in this planet, and on the other hand a corporeality so appropriated and solipsistically experienced and performed. Bodies can be seen as processes of tensional accumulation as response to gravity. Ways of movement and ideas regarding mobility are deeply rooted in this relationship of being, knowing, experiencing gravity through the support force of the skeleton. So if we were to move the immovable, we would have to come up with a radically different approach. And if we were to understand weight, we would have to realize how we arrived to touch the constraints that surround us and how they touch back on us, recognising and developing a sensorial sensitivity towards that existential reciprocity.

What often blocks possibility of perception regarding weight and therefore movement in the body is tightness and lack of awareness. Tightness targets primarily intersections and is a tensional outcome of reactive response to gravity, unshakability, unyielding and lack of reception. Intersections on the other hand are material mechanisms of connection/separation, they are hosts of the in between, agents of reciprocity and intermediary operatives. Some examples can be the joints of the body, phases of transition from one state to another or what exists between pauses, or osmotic structures between organism and environment, such as the skin or the cell membrane. Intersections can be seen as real abstractive derivatives of touch in relation to trace, and thus contain questions regarding simultaneity of realities. Indeed, an intersection operates primarily upon the idea of tightness, yet the question would be what degree of tightness is enough for an intersection to still exist.

Taking the idea of tightness out of the physical context, we would come across to Houston Baker's term “tight places”; the always ambivalent cultural compromises of occupancy and vacancy, differentially affected by contexts of situations, posing at the same time the important question: Who moves? Who doesn’t?

Danielle Goldman in her book “I want to be ready”, sees those “tight places” as a useful starting point from which to analyse the ways in which one’s shifting social and historical positions in the world affect one’s mobility.

"Improvised dance offers more than a method of coping with the world's tight places, a mere survival strategy in which one is always on the run. Undeniably, improvisation and survival are often vitally linked, which constitutes an important part of improvisation's necessity and political power".

Understanding the weight and the intersections of the body where the weight is circulated is already dancing.

A state of dancing that refuses the sublime indeterminacy of conventional dance linked to choreographic products of hierarchies that exist upon the need to feed comfortable interpretation. 

On the contrary, a state of dancing willing to embrace cloudiness as a pragmatic immersion and thus linked to choreographies of speculation, understanding and strategy.

If the first step would be to release tightness in tight spaces and loosen up intersective areas, the challenge would be to not only stay busy with oppositionality just by recognising or dealing with resistance. Perhaps another way would be to try understanding and learning from the mechanism of intersection. The understanding of producing real bonding with and between bodies is something beyond the chance of friendship, companionship, collaboration. It could be what we need so as to see and claim space for our own performance of liberation.

Presented at:
Nonperformance as Method Symposium, curated by Ypatia Vourloumis, Green Park, Athens, GR | October 2016

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