[dance-tech] Re: March-April Discussion forum on dance/performance and participation

  • From: Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2015 22:14:14 +0000

dear all

good to hear Sarah Jane will return from the mists, and I realize she is
posting during her ascents/descents on the Mount Everest trek (on social
media), the battery of laptop slowly running out:

Day 14: I descend 950m from EBC to Pherige. I find an inflection between a
point of departure and a point of arrival. It reminds me of a dance step: a
nodal juncture upon which one can spin or pirouette, leap or fall. The
difference of the energy and intention of the personal momentum towards this
point: clear or clouded, forced or found, intended or calculated. To hesitate
at this point, I must learn the grace of a ballerina to perform a spot-turn:
maintaining focus on a fixed point to enable balance, lest I spin with
dizziness. To be prepared to stay, is to remain fixed. Inactivity enables the
mini tornado effect that will draw or repel what is require to exit this
state. To embrace change, is to surrender to an arrival in a new place. I
enjoy the transition. Leaving behind all that I know with confidence that I
am prepared to embrace all that follows. It can be a fools journey yet every
experience informs the next and no matter how prepared I am, or think I am,
each experience will bring new challenges and new opportunities for growth.
This landscape has taught me the effect of human action or inaction has
impact in the environment and therefore the opportunity to contribute to

I wish I could speak, in such spirit, of leaving behind all I know, with
confidence, and reading Tommy's further reply, in his last post, I wonder where
I became a defender, vigorously, of the difference between performers and
audiences? I took the term awe from you, Tommy, I personally would never use
it, but maybe I come from a time, an older time, where distinctions between
(modes of) production and reception were/are not evacuated as I always assumed,
in the performing arts, say dance, or music, that the performer was trained and
prepared, vigorously (and I won't speak of Indian or Japanese traditions of
in-body training or preparation although they inspired me immensely, and they
excited me as a trance dance might excite me in an Afro-Cuban Santería ceremony
albeit differently - and I have rarely been possessed, no divinity descending
upon me although I longed for it), to enact a role or character in front of the
communal witnesses or audiences, and often the role meant a compositional
process (and design/dramaturgical preparation) that was engineered for the
reception and thus for the system to be effective.

You are raising a serious doubt about that system, as I also understood
Alexandre to wonder whether, when speaking of "democratic modes of
participation", we "don’t talk about a performance, which content wise
addresses democracy, but it has to do with the social and political frame that
the performance creates for its audience, regardless of the content."

yes, and what are these frames? these transitions? what would it mean to argue
that the divide between performer and audience no longer exists, what would it
mean to argue all audiences who come to the "choreographic object" or event are
performers, experiencers, and players, and then (democratically evacuative) the
rules are engineered by everyone and all, although the object, one must assume,
has a certain functionality and technicality, and it can have various sensory
qualities, and it can make (e.g. Jeannette's body-as-archive) you lean forward,
or invite "replayability" (Jacob) or not, or force you to ascend into, leap
into gymnastic feats (Forsythe's "Fact of Matter," installed at the
"Move: Choreographing You" exhibition (Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre,
London, 2011) that you can muster or master or not. Sarah Jane's last sentence
(above) of course matters here, too.

Choreographing you.

that, I feared, was the participatory politics commandeered by installation art
that on the one hand enabled sensorial experiences of various kinds (and many
of us perhaps assumed that interactivity was a form of participation that
created an open system, an open source environment for all), while on the other
hand embedding "audiences" (now no longer being such) that were neither
prepared nor necessarily willing to be possessed by our engineering.

Johannes Birringer

[Thomas F. DeFrantz schreibt]

nicely drawn all around Johannes. I would think mostly that the vigorous
divide you propose between 'performers' and 'audience' ... and then
student/engineers and developers ... could be evacuated for its relevancy. if
that divide could be moved out of the discussion, then the rules of the players
are also the rules of the performers and developers/artists, and
systems/concerns that effect one effect all. inspiring awe is surely a
simplification of any creative act that ignites reflection; that part of
sharing performance/objects we all might agree upon.

the 'how' part of this particular course offering circles around 'critical
design' - the students are introduced to the materials available for our work
together to create the objects (and for the purposes of the class assignments,
they are to create objects); then they are challenged to design toward their
interests as they are shaped by critical reflection.

today and next week final presentations; I'll have more to consider as I get to
reflect on the creations of the students....

in motion, tommy

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