…Dance as we really know it…
Everyone has a sense of how to dance. This is a call for dance as it is first encountered, neither told nor taught, for the spirited suspension of normative life, untouched by rationality. This Dance knows nothing of acquired knowledge. Simultaneously specific and universal, Dance wraps itself around all living, to dispel life of all its assumptions, inadequate cognitive frames and prevailing truths. Proposition: To Not Know
It is not often that I read a piece of text that makes me more aware of the pumping blood in my body because of a sudden encounter with something that feels truly authentic and meaningful to me. When I come across something that stops me in my tracks and shakes me out from my everyday weird bouncing-between- overactive-squirrel-and-lazy-zombie state I go “oooh, this could be good, and I should probably dig a little deeper into this”. The quote above is from a short piece of text that does just this. It is from an article by choreographer Michael Kliën that I first came across a few years ago while studying choreography at the Theatreacademy in Helsinki. The text reminds me of some of the things and values that feel personally important to me as a dancer but also as a human(and in a past life: a squirrel). In the quote above Michael refers to the modes in which contemporary dance operates in the Western world and in the elegant article he proposes 10 ways of dancing differently. In his opening statement he talks about how he struggles with “Western dance in its institutional arrangements: what dance stands for and embodies, how it is used and discarded.” I have spent the last 9 years of my life studying contemporary dance full time, and I too, find some of the ways dance operates in the West to be, umm, problematic.
But, even though the text specifically speaks about the modes of productions of contemporary dance in the Western world the propositions he makes feel relevant to so many other aspects of life as well, and for this post I thought I would focus on one of them a bit broader. The call out for dance as it is first encountered, before any aquired knowledge and learned patterns, is one that feels especially important to me right now after just finishing school, that makes sense right...? To want to return to that state of having no knowledge when you just spent 9 years gaining more knowledge, hmmmn no that does not make a lot of sense actually. Please, explain. So, I have spent 21 years of my 29 years on this planet studying. After finishing high school I immediately moved abroad to study dance in Berlin for two years, after which I studied dance for a year in Amsterdam and finally moved back to Helsinki to study another 6 years(because you know, why face the real world just yet when you can study a bit more plus all education in Finland is for free!?). Those years have been wonderful in so many ways and the exhiliration of learning and understanding the world while doing something you are passionate about is so, so, so valuable. But, all those years of studying have also left me with a lot of internalized movement, thinking and behaviour patterns that are learned and not always necessairily my “own”. I mean, I would never have gotten the idea that standing on my hands could be a good idea unless somebody had showed and taught me that movement pattern or have thought that a 2 hour performance with someone speaking gibberish in yellow tights could be so mesmerizing and interesting without all the analytical choreographic tools I got from school(in the name of honesty may it be said that I was never a very good handstander, I just thought that was a cool example and validation for my contemporary dancer credibility).
…the universe in a moving body…
In dance the body can chart its own universe anew. In its relations it carries the objectless order of the universe as mapped by the subject upon itself: the body’s combined ability to perceive the world and to be in the world. When dancing, the entire repertoire of relations – geometrical, mechanic, organic and recursive – becomes available in movement. To pre-determine dance is to operate within the narrow bounds of mutually agreed, stale mechanics and allows for no beauty beyond the homogeneity of granted orders. This is the death of all other realities: the tedious dullness of tired dances, disguised as salvation. Proposition: Dance as the Possible Universe
When you dive deep into any field and decide to make something that was first an interest or hobby into your profession, it will undoubteldy change that relationship and often make it more complicated. As a child at dance camp when we gave our last day show for the parents to the tunes of Janet Jackson I experienced it with a very e direct and immediate sense of enjoyment. As I have gotten older and gotten more knowledge I have sometimes lost that initial sense of enjoyment. All kinds of questions would come in the way and completely throw me off what it is really all about. “Why do I dance?” and “What is dance?” and “Who is it for?” and “Why not help kids strving in Africa instead of being in a empty room all day exploring my physical and mental movements?” are all valid questions but, they all tend to not be very productive. I wish to keep my childlike curiosity towards things alive and active and continue to wonder why slugs are so slimey(and also, not to immediately google everything I don't know but enjoy the “not knowing”). I want to get rid of all the “shoulds” and remove all filters of aquired knowledge that tell me how things I am doing are supposed to look like or what I should be doing or thinking because of internalized norms and what I think is expected of me. These preconceived notions is my personal army of enemies. They are led by the Missnöjdaren, which is Swedish for the Disgrunteled one, which is what I call my inner long nosed troll that comes out and critices everything I do in moments of uncertainty.
…loosing one’s limbs…
The state of dance realigns the dancer with her surroundings. For a fleeting moment, attuned with the oceanic that holds this world together she enacts a personal and collective life upon her experience. The whales shed their limbs and returned to the deep. The Sacred resonates throughout this body and into the world. Proposition: Reincarnate. Now.
I want to go to that deep place inside my own bones where thera is a deeper sense of inner wisdom that connects me to all the stardust and lobsters and roses in this world (and where Disgruntlers are not allowed). In my body I carry around a lot of history but to get stuck in that does not feel very constructive. So I need to go where the whales go, to return to the deep and shed my limbs with all that they have been through and let go of any expectations of failure of success. Researchers do not yet know exactly why whales sing or what they are trying to communicate but I am sure the whlaes know. So I hope I will find out what my inner whlae song is all about and I just have to take care of researching it and keep being interested in it becausem whatever it is, I think the messiness of trying to figure that out is truly fascinating(and ok, very frustrating but that is not an elegant way to end a piece).