Monthly Archives: September 2013
It was cool and damp by the morning river. Made me feel fresh, energized, optomistic. Then I made the mistake of turning on CNN for a quick moment before leaving for work and was reminded that yes I do live in Ugunistan…and there’s always another shooter out there. Wonder if more people will be killed by gunfire today in Pakistan, Somalia or the U.S.? I’m guessing the latter.
But back to the river. AND NO MAYOR BERRY or whoever wants more paths and trails in the Bosque…NO NO NO. Or just pave the whole damn thing over, leave the ponds and it could be a water fowl SHOOTING RANGE. I sad to say it wouldn’t surprise me if that were already in the planning stages gun dolt’s mind.
So here are some nice things in the world. I cannot help myself when I see these beautiful birds and I have a camera in my hand.
“Movement Afoot” seemed like an appropriate title for stories about how I discovered and explored the wide world of dance. However, when I googled the phrase, fitness and yoga studios seem to have latched on to the term (movements afoot). It still works for some of these dance posts I think so I’ll keep it anyway.
I reblogged “A Short History of Dance in my Life” which describes my entry into this strange new land but not the origins of the international path which I was suddenly following.
Connecting dance to place started for me in France. I actually cannot remember how I first started looking intensively and extensively at French dance. Being enthralled with Paris and every French sight/taste/nuance, which was all fairly new to me, certainly helped. I was presenting a range of performing arts at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque NM AND in the process meeting and being guided by the NYC contemporary dance sophisticates and international travelers AND French dance was hot at the time.
It was magical. Paris is a very special place in all ways and what a grand thing, to be sitting at a sidewalk café with your cigarettes and café au lait or wine, gazing just over there at the Eiffel Tower and listening to the elegant sounds of the French language all around. Increasingly the talk was of dance…contemporary dance treasured and supported by the French government. Imagine that!
The choreographers and companies I remember most clearly are Dominique Bagouet, Angelin Preljocaj/Ballet Preljocaj (who was here for Global DanceFest’s grand 2001 opening), Maguy Marin, Mathilde Monnier, Josef Nadj and of course the American transplant, Carolyn Carlson. There were others but with an array like that who needed more. I was enthralled and curious.
I so lacked background in American contemporary dance, or dance of any kind for that matter, that being introduced to new work in a new country was like entering a different reality. I had no references; when my friends and mentors related what they were seeing back to the founders and stars of “modern” dance in America and Europe I was the clueless bystander.
What I did know was that—given the limited American dance I had seen in New Mexico (extremely limited) and at the conferences and showcases I was attending around the country—I was more enamored of what I was seeing in France. Why the greater interest was the question.
It took me awhile to develop an answer that suited me. The dance in France was a little less about technique and pure movement and more about things/stuff/stories/ideas. It also seemed a little more confrontive, maybe a little rawer, a little sexier, more original somehow? And the program was one coherent piece, not three pretty dances of 10 to 20 minutes each. I loved it all. Indiscriminately.
I immediately began trying to analyze what about French culture, history or geography had produced those differences. I know…I know… I know. My learned dance friends can trace it all to various choreographic/artistic movements and influences. Which is true and accurate and informed. But I wasn’t interested in that, what I wanted to figure out was what about being French was showing up on stage. Of course there was no answer that made sense.
But here’s what I decided. France has a proud intellectual history so why wouldn’t that be reflected in their dance as well as in other cultural pursuits—dance of ideas? France has a long history as a colonial power so why wouldn’t their experience of other cultures make more story, more nuance possible in their dance—dance more worldly. France is known as a nation of diverse sensual appetites—why wouldn’t their dance reflect that sensuality. This was an answer that made sense. To me at least.
That was all over 20 years ago. Since then I’ve seen American dance take on all of those characteristics to some degree, and I have no idea what is happening with French dance. But that line of questioning is what propelled me down the track of forever analyzing contemporary dance based on the broadest of cultural, environmental, historical and political influences. For better or worse.
Don’t worry…this message is not coming to you from a Doomsday Cult. it is only the END of GLOBAL DANCEFEST. And of my dance blogging. Which was never my finest accomplishment in any case. The truth is—as pleasurable as discovering and presenting interesting dance has been—I am pretty inarticulate when it comes to discussing or describing it.
In the meantime, between now and October 5th I will keep trying! With some final pieces about my experiences in the field and also re-blogging some of the posts that seem worth sharing.
A few days ago in “Dancing to a Different Tune” I talked about constantly trying to find geographical/historical/cultural meaning in all of the work I’ve seen and/or presented from all over the world. And how sometimes it feels like the connections are so obviously there—other times like I’m forcing it. More about that in the next few days. I think.
In the meantime I’m going to re-blog something I wrote last fall before deciding to stop presenting. It’s called “A SHORT HISTORY OF DANCE IN MY LIFE,” and is both about how I came to this world of contemporary dance and how I interpret it for my presenting purposes. (At the time Global DanceFest was going to morph into something called Journeys instead of ending.)
I don’t know how to incorporate another blog post into a new one so this will be two separate posts.
Albuquerque is not a pretty city overall. It is just not. No travel guide, magazine article, famous or infamous person has ever claimed it to be so. HOWEVER early in the morning along Tingley Beach it. is. spectacular.
And this is my second day with no water fowl photos. Trying to break the habit one morning at a time.
Yesterday it rained in Albuquerque. Like a real rainy day. Not a spit shower, not windstorm with drops on the side, not a sunny-day monsoon moment. But a long gray wet sloshy spashy beautiful day.
I took a long morning walk while it was still cool and damp and full of wet earth smells. Here’s the photo album of the day:
Dancing Around the World is one way to describe much of my international travel. During the 1980s it was mostly to France and the rest of Europe; in the 1990s and 2000s, mostly to Africa. With a side trip here and there to Asia and Latin America.
As a dance presenter I needed to see what was percolating globally. As a perpetual student of history and geography I wanted to understand how the environment within which it was made influenced, infused and informed the dance itself.
I suspect my dance friends have found my endless attempts to give our dance programs a geo-art twist a bit silly at times. But I have just never been able to separate any kind of art from its place in the world.
Now as I look at this final Global DanceFest program I feel completely justified. The very last piece we will present is African in heart and soul, body and mind. Panaibra Gabriel Canda and Boyzie Cekwana have worked for a very long time on Inkomati (Dis)cord whenever they have had the chance to connect in their native countries of Mozambique and South Africa, or elsewhere in the world. Now it’s completed and will be here in Albuquerque and everything that a Global DanceFest wrap should be.
Inkomati (Dis)cord IS a visit to contemporary Africa. The history between two countries, the politics that never end, the doubt people feel about where they fit in the sometimes dysfunctional environments…the vitality and genius it takes to survive and thrive. It all comes out in the incredible creativity of African artists. As does the indispensable perseverance, humor and interdependence that these remarkable people bring to this unique work: Canda whose thoughtfulness infuses the work, Cekwana whose humor tinged with cynicism takes on African politics, and Maria Tembe, who lost her legs in a car accident, and is a dancer of unbelievable beauty.
I will come back to this topic of how dance and cultures based on geography and historical amalgamations intertwine. It is usually more difficult to trace than here—but I always try!
I hope everyone reading this blog within driving and flying distance will be here for Inkomati (Dis)cord. Because it is what I’ve been trying to get people to come and see for all these years of Global DanceFest. October 4 and 5/North Fourth Art Center/Albuquerque New Mexico USA.
Happiness is an elusive state of being but we never give up trying to define it. The country of Bhutan has gone a step further than the rest of us and defined “Gross National Happiness” and is building national policies around the concept. Which certainly makes as much sense as our fixation on how high our Gross National Product can/should be considering that its numbers give equal weight to the revenue earned through car sales AND through the medical, disability and death costs associated with car crashes.
Tingley Beach: 6:30am. I’m feeling good. Walking semi-briskly, just the slightest bit of chill in the air, it is calm with only people about who like to be up early, walk dogs, move their sleepy bodies and ride bikes. Feeling good.
Half hour goes by; I’m trying to think about what photos I can take that will indicate fall is almost here. Dying flowers…that works. And the ducks and geese are out in full force this morning. Their kids are all teens now, mostly ignoring parents while simultaneously mimicking their grown-up actions. I love these guys. Teenagers in the water fowl world are a sign of fall I’m thinking.
ALL OF A SUDDEN I REALIZE I AM HAPPY. Happy is not the same as feeling good. Happy is…well, you know it when you feel it. One-part satisfaction about where you are in the moment; one-part calm; one-part anticipation; one-part rested; one-part invigorated and on and on it goes. That is happiness.
Here is the weekly Tingley Beach photo album:
You felt badly.
You called the doctor.
In a day or few, you saw the doctor.
The doctor knew EVERYTHING.
He (usually) told you what to do/not do.
You got better. Or died.
You feel badly.
You Google your symptoms.
You call a specialist who might deal with those symptoms.
In three to four months, you will see this specialist.
He/she will know A FEW THINGS.
He/she will say maybe you should try this OR it could be that OR you
should see the specialist who knows about left earlobes. (Turns out you
mistakenly booked in with the right earlobe specialist.)
YOU DO A LOT MORE ON-LINE RESEARCH.
Eventually you see the doctor/specialist.
He/she says he/she doesn’t know what you have but gives you a few
prescriptions to try.
And says let’s schedule you for another appointment in six months to see
how you’re doing.
You get better. Or see another specialist. Or die.