After a long period of not having any gigs or doing any shows, I did two different events in the same weekend. The first RISE workshop at the Philadelphia Art Alliance took place on a Saturday and then the Ominous Cloud show at the Icebox Performance Space was the next evening. These are very different endeavors and it was a lot to do and be in a short space of time. Sometimes this is just the way opportunities are timed, and its not ideal—I'd prefer to have more time around each public event for preparation and reflection, but this is just how things work out. I was mindful to ride the intensity of having increased exposure and expectation in such a brief period; so I could stay as relaxed and grounded as possible.
The big discovery in the RISE workshop was that the four people who attended wanted to play around on the map of relationship after it was created on the floor in the gallery. In my mind, the making of the map, and then viewing it as an object of contemplation, were the main activities—but to participants these things just felt like a preamble. People, myself included, wanted to re-enter the space of the map after it was drawn and explore it as a structure. We tried out many types of interactive choreographic strategies such as following the lines, being in opposition to linear form with curvy or meandery movements, being inside or outside of the defined areas, and so on. Lots to mull over and refine before October, when RISE will be presented as part of Elevate Chicago Dance.
The performance with Ominous Cloud raised the ever-reappearing question: How, as an improvising dancer, does one relate to loud crescendos and longish periods of very dense sound-making from a musical ensemble? The sound overtakes the space, overtakes the body, making the air and the matter in the entire venue vibrate according to its pattern. It feels like the sound takes up all the space. Since space is to the dancer as canvas is to the painter, sound that colors the space with intensity poses a big challenge. It's like if someone gave a fully-painted canvas to a painter and said, Go ahead, do your painting on this. One's dance can easily become secondary to the sound. Sometimes I chose to get small, slow, or still, not even trying to be active in that thick field. Other times I let the sound push me, as long as I could physically manage.
When I'm riding my bike and I hear a very loud vehicle coming up behind me. I almost always pull over, because it just sets my whole nervous system on edge. I hear a roar that is threatening to swallow me up. Sometimes I'm surprised at how small the vehicle is, because the sound it is making is so big. I think it is literally big in space, although invisible. The air around the vehicle must be dense with sound waves, vibrating through everything in its path.