Monday, November 15, 2010

Trenches - phase 1 of after the fall

Angie is a dear, dear friend and colleague. She and I created two duets for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and performed them in the fall of 2010. Angie was one of my dancers in microcosmic current and I was hers in The Rented World. These performances premiered last spring. We have an incredible working and personal relationship.

Trenches began as an exploration of words. I created the movement vocabulary from the rhythm of her obituary.

Angie and I spend several conversations in deep discussion regarding the work. I approached Trenches as an investigation, as my beginning research. It was helpful to have a performance deadline to generate and perform a work, even if it was only in process.

I questioned the need for obituaries. Angie agreed that she had cut out obituaries of people she had known and pasted them in her journal. I questioned if this was a common practice. Obituaries made/make me angry. They say nothing about the person other than dry fact. Birthday. Death day. Education. Job. Family. Interment. (which is a strange word in itself... maybe a different investigation...) At her memorial service, people talked about her apple pie. Her giant dinners. The way she cared for the neighborhood. Her obituary said none of these things and it angered me.

Angie pointed out that we do this with our bios. Oftentimes, dancers and choreographers will have bios in programs. If you've ever been to a live performance of a musical, play, theater, or dance, you will be familiar with this custom. Angie noticed that we often write our own bios and they often contain information regarding education, training, and other professional experiences. The bios that we write rarely contain any personal information.

(My bio now lists that I enjoy the beach, mind-body practices, and puppies.)

And we worked.

I decided on the title Trenches for several reasons. 1) A bio or obit is a brief glimpse into some one's life. Anthropologists and archaeologists when digging for artifacts will first dig small sections in an area; small plots several feet away from each other and several feet deep. These plots (or trenches) are designed to provide a view into the earth and a glimpse at a life or lives that might have been lived there. If several trenches in one area provide some artifacts (defined as anything that a human used), the dig commences. If nothing is found, the team moves to another location. 2) Trenches were small pits dug as part of World War I. These pits provided security of life, and sometimes provided shallow graves for previous lives. Similarly, obituaries provide evidence of life and a very shallow representation of life.

Tracy Scott Silverman kindly granted me permission to use his version of "Here Comes the Sun" for this work. The choice to seek Mr. Silverman's work and choice to use it are intuitive. His version is sad and hopeful. Mr. Silverman is an extremely talented violinist, musician, and artist and I encourage you to check out more of his work. He sometimes travels for performances to PA, so mark your calendars! Here's a link to his website and some of his music:

I have not fully processed the work that Angie and I created, but I'm including it so you can see the beginning stages of this process. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I appreciate your feedback.

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