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The experience of ttt has taken its time to surface. For the past two years I have been grappling with the experience of working inside a large academic institution in the center of the United States of America. It has taken me time to arrive at a point at which I can extend out to you with the experience that has sedimented itself around me in response to the generous, provocative and deeply influential experpience of ttt in the summers of 2009 and 2010 and most recently the min ttt DD Dorvillier and I set up in NYC during winter MELT. I have felt the responsibility of sharing the wealth of experience and information we generated at ttt a kind of wrapping up when I feel like my own sense of the process has been one of extending down and out. So in the spirit of Jennifer Lacey who created such a resilient and porous container to explore the freedom of teaching I offer my thoughts and share my experiences.

First I had to define the audience I am addressing, to share with who? I have mostly in mind those of us who shared the last two summers together in Vienna and Impulz tanz but also those of you that created other ttts and who were at impulztanz and to those of you who most recently met during January MELT 2011 at Movement Research in NYC.

To those of you who aren’t included in the above, I have my feelers out to you too. I feel the space of what is unfamiliar and your presence expands the potential of what  is expressed here.

I’m reading Queer Phenomenology by Sara Ahmed so am quite literally using some of the terms in her book and common to phenomenology to come to terms with ttt on this particular first day of February in 2011, as one of the biggest blizzards since 1996 whistles out of the Rockies. One of the things that became most clear to me with ttt was the contingency of teaching and learning -that I can only teach what I know as I am in the process of learning something new. That in starting with something new for myself I find my experience rising to the task of making sense of and offering up what I do know. Those in the room show up for the world - as Jennifer Lacey suggested we make our belief system for the duration of the class and give full commitment.  For me that commitment has come to mean bringing fully to bear my beginners mind along side my expert mind.

I orient myself to you, my fellow teachers.  I turn towards you and I feel you turning to face me. Sometimes I have a specific memory of being in the studio with you,, Touching Janet’s shoulder, smearing egg, rum and flour on my belly, seeing the movement of Karinne’s shoulders, feeling the telepathy of movement in the long hall way, books and food on a table, dusty shoes, catching pillows. The memory serves as a symbol of our learning and in so doing quides my teaching.  The symbol of Karinne’s skirt and Jennifer Laceys’ fasincation of it brings forward the invisible structures that shape our teaching enviroment.  The experience of these memories and symbols buttresses, pushes up against me allowing me to question, undo and forge ahead. I see it destabilizing my students, taking the ground out from underneath them and that makes me briefly anxious but in moments or days they have reoriented themselves stable afloat on their own raft, moving around and away from me.

As this year turned from 2010 to 2011 my experience of ttt arranged itself more clearly for me. Perhaps it was in organizing a mini ttt at MR’s MELT with DD that allowed me to register how much I have taken with me from that experience. Or perhaps it was Rio’s email that set my on track to get something on paper.

I have taken a particular direction away from the edges of NYC and the West Coast where I grew up and find myself teaching in a large state university in the middle of the country. I am in the middle although most of my life I have defined myself by edges and margins. I am directed toward young dancers from this milieu. Figuring out what it means to arrive in order to have a place to extend towards these students.  Arrival here into the studio with students has taught me to create a space of safety, describe a container to arrive in , to look out at what you have left behind and what is ahead. To see and to recognize what I am in the midst of and not to be constantly aware of what I am missing, to be in the middle of the edge. Jennifer Lacey’s idea of the archicture of class as a spatial and temporal metaphor was very powerful for me. Addressing the literal architecture of the space through DD’s observation exercises and my own practice of refunctioning and producing meaning in spaces through dancing outside dovetailed into this idea.

The arrival has been part of a coming towards, creating a proximity with my students. Not expecting them to come towards me. This I learned from Gwen Welliver this January. And I have experienced the thrill of coming towards the recognition of shared information and how that allows us to occupy and then inhabit the space of learning and teaching together.

This is not an attempt to uncomplicate the conditions of teaching inside of an institution in which I am in a position of authority, of grading, or giving credit of defining how a student moves forward in the program. The structures push and pull at me too, demanding my time, shaping the times and spaces that I create in.  This is evidence of the social and political structures that we make work within. I am often reminded of DD and Vickie’s exercise of Freedom and rigor, and Danielle Goldman’s use of the tight place in her recently published book I want to be ready . How does freedom undo the stitches that hold things together and resew them in another shape. IT takes a certain attention and awareness of the contingency of power that is what we are swimming in as teachers. Some of the most provocative conversations we had during our time together in Vienna revolved around notions of freedom and power and brought together the diverse experiences of SF and NY queer activism, with the theoretical thinking of Ranciere, the European …Keith Hennessy and Franz as well as Karinne and DD …. No all of us had something particular and powerful to add to this discussion.

CONTExt and Meaning

From conversations with my friend Doran George I have been thinking about the universalizing assumptions of certain somatic practices and how those became more clear to me as we learned the snake dance from Karinne. I felt those of us with a lot of anatomical information and somatic training trying to break down the functioning of the body as a way of knowing. Karinne helped me to recognize my own sense of the sacred as did Keith who once described his spiritual practice as being in a room full of people dancing… yeah.  Ttt helped me to experience the particularities of each form as it is taught through various bodies- Benoit and his shimmery gentle dream like state, Malcolm ‘s simple elegant anatomical and imagine based approach to walking as a way to move to learn. Louic’s pillow dancing.

Then there was also the completely unique experience of teaching together coming up with telepathic structures, talking writing moving touching and designing the open workshops for the larger community out of our common horde of information.

The slippage between teaching artistic methodologies vs teaching techniques for learning through the body through  the specific modalities of ballet and yoga. Through Sri Louis and Janet.

I’ve been teaching technique here at the university this semester. I’ve taught three classes so far, and I am doing my best to move towards the students and offer them ledges of stability in a recoqnizable plie series or moving across the floor with a series of set movements interspersed with explorations in a more improvisational mode. It’s not a class that I have ever taught before , and there is nothing unusual about it. It is like most contemporary dance classes being taught in NYC I imagine .but my own struggle of moving towards the student ACKNOWLEDGING the wide range of teachers I have had and the skills they have gifted me, is like a deep pool to draw on. Janet rules here.

One of the most useful things that Louic said was that you have to let the students get information out of you. You can serve like a google to them. He also said that students could learn just from watching me dance. Those two bits of information gave me the permission to access by own dancing from different places to move out of my own curtained personal sphere and imagine the various orientations and directions I took to get me there.

To use all information respectfully but lightly. So that my INTENTION stays focused on providing a structure for FREEDOM. The tools to dig oneself out or dig oneself in if so desired.

DD helps me break things open to see the space between things to conjour the possiblities  of the difference between body and object. In the simplicity of touch talk move write I have come to access my own assumptions about what I think is important and why and to untie that from my teaching, from my critical thinking and judging mind. This has been central to my teaching this year and it allows me to LISTEN and ask the right or the more right questions.

Christine – Clarity of definition, unlayering sedimentation, the

 

Notes from ttt 2009

 

Tuesday, Aug. 3

Hands on Janet- Listening, touching while doing something else. Intuitive anatomical information. STAGES of touching not defined, experienced. This is about being aware of transition and readiness.

She said intuition came from my structure. Good strength.

DD introduced touch talk write move

Franz suggested the Quaker meeting as an anachronistic and somewhat exotic and unfamiliar form. The various was that the sacred was introduced as collective practice, ritual. The collective experience that makes room for autonomy.

Keith talked about and ancestral feeling.

THE GOAL IS DEFINED FOR ME – The goal of teaching is to create a collectivity that supports autonomy.

Waiting and listening

Some notes on what is really free- animals, colors, trees and a demand for more time.

THE QUESTION IS DEFINED FOR ME – are you facilitating change? Is not change always happening so it is the experience of change, directing the change that is already happening?

Assumptions about the body as object, site, producer, internal source

 

Wednesday, Aug. 4th

Another question emerges

Where does death exist in culture? Karinne prays to an image of herself. Her own image gives her support, knows her best? Can give her what she needs.

She drinks with the spirits, never alone. The body and soul take what they need, don’t take what you don’t need. How do you know?

Karinne developed her dancing in relation to her new milieu a new movement appears. Arms that move with out skirts. (This metaphor appears as a prominent concept in next year’s ttt)

The snake developed on its own. Accept it, 4 rings, 3 snakes dancing together at night.

Teaching is about psychic, spirit telepathy. The snake is eternity and cleansing.

Janet,

THE PLIE- hips, pelvis, ears over shoulders, feet on the floor, two feet moving up, push feet up to go down, head up, jump.

Arabesque on the wall kiss it, move forward

Repeatition – Knowing you can always go deeper

Constructing Bodies – coordination, preparing a sequencing of movement of potential events. are you learning to get better or to be in the moment are they different?

Is the exercise a symbol? Is it a container for information, for practicing, for repeating, for going deeper.

Trust – creating an architecture of trust. The details of the room.

Pillow training ( this has to be experienced) basically we through pillows back and forth in lots of different ways and that generated buoyant, excited, available, concentrated and happy bodies. A bit of a miracle.

(I’m noticing that every time I write about Karinne it’s a kind of poetry)

 

Snake Dance with Karinne

In the heart with the head, the hands are the head of the snake. They dance together. The ocean is in the belly, knee up, three steps, the death is deep in the pubic, tailbone region.(ahh here it is…)

 

Thursday, August 5th

Synopsis through touch, move, talk, write. A series of actions without a how

Liberation and freedom

Sloppy theory, parallel knowings

Something about touching is central to listening.

 

The Cleansing Ritual

This left me with a range of indescribable, peripheral and perplexed feelings about spirit, consciousness and body states.

What I learned from Telephone with Movement

The map is not the territory. He was teaching me his experience of trying to remember.

The question of Transmission became a central one for me as well through out the past few years.

The telepathy dancing. I won’t describe the structure that we used but it again laid bare some concepts and assumptions.

The importance of associative connections, and multiple interpretations. What is belief? What do we create from belief?

Organizations and architectures we created and refered to

 

The Towel Dance by Jennifer Lacey

The pillow Training by loic

The alter, offering, the request of Karinne.

 

Technique class is art class

Moving consciousness, distraction, attention states, self critical without self criticism, observaton of experience.

 

Pretending in order to believe/playfulness

Does belief squeeze out room for certain questions?

Franz “I’ve heard the bell ringing but I don’t know where the clocker is”

The nation of performing is everywhere

Imitation is pretending.

 

Loic – the teacher is a POSTIVE POINT

 

August 7th

Christine Gaigg discussed her teaching processes.

Her students view a performance, research it in any way they can, present it in some kind of performative way. Emphasis that analysis and experience don’t exclude each other, the importance of all the stages of creation. The experience teaches collaboration, process and MANAGEMENT.

We had a discussion about imitation, appropriation and translation.

Develop practices from another person’s work.

Translation, transmission, transfer

 

Hoetzinger – the power of games

We work so that we don’t have to play all the time, because play is the serious thing. Pay attention but not too much

Transmitting and Receiving with out doubt. Build systems to get over humiliation.

Janet teaches a humiliation phrase.

Trusting the deep reservoir of experience that is in me. Organizing and unorgainizing experience.

How do we learn from everyone simultaneously. Every one in the class is a resource. Creating utopia, jenny to cultivate pleasure, identify desire, creating practices and breaking them down. Do I have the energy for that?

Watching as a learning device. Since ttt I have continued to develop a very reflective process usually between two people so that the subjectivity of one’s dancing gets danced back through another body, re seeing and sensing through the transmission to another body.

Tarot Day. With mother peace cards

Lots of notes that don’t make too much sense.

A new pattern is emerging , Change, craft release, light and fire untamed urge to action, playful, cracking the structures that don’t serve any more. Change again. 

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