お久しぶりResurrection

In the summer of 2010, I left the USA to move to Okinawa, Japan. I thought I would only be here for a year, but it’s going on 3 years now. I’ve been on a performance hiatus since I moved to Japan, though I guess that’s not really true. I just haven’t documented it at all. I left this little site of mine in a dark corner of the internet, but I’m resurrecting it.

I was in Tokyo the last weekend of January for a friend’s performance at Le Baron de Paris in Omotesando. A review will soon be up. In addition, I’m restarting New News, the literary and performance series I organized in Florida in 2010, and will be hosting it at Cotonoha Art Space + Cafe in Ginowan, Okinawa. And, hopefully!, I’ll soon see the formation of a theater company here in Okinawa. These are all just on the horizon now, but I’m taking steps to make them happen soon. It’ll happen soon.

Locating Oneself in a Global Era

An ongoing discussion is taking place around a particular set of questions I posed on my FB account. The original post was meant to engage anyone and everyone on the concept of the local in a globalized era with new media and DIY enterprises. With the current disintegration of the concept of a rigid hierarchy of artistic and cultural gatekeepers, this era has provided technological tools for any artist to utilize to distribute his or her or their work to the masses without costing large amounts of upfront capital (as opposed to the film industry which offers the same mass distribution, but also prevents many from participating due to costs). Here is the original posting:

What does it mean to refer to oneself or others as “local artists”? In this era of instant global distribution via the Internet, how does one define him/herself as local (Where they are based out of? Arts made for a group of people based on a particular region without the wish to distribute it outside of this area? Folk arts that represent that locality?) Where is this term originating from and why is it used?

Feel free to answer or email me with your comments on this topic. Thanks!

New News!!

Organizing a new Literary and Performance Art series called New News.

Please go to New News! to find out more information.
If you’re in the Tampa Bay area on April 18th, 2010 please plan on attending the first of the New News series of literary and performance art.

Thank you/gracias/merci/danke

xo

You’re History

I wrote this about a month ago after seeing Jennifer Archibald perform at Salon de Dance at Studio@620 in St. Petersburg, Florida but I believe it is still relevant. Tomorrow I’ll attend Helen Hansen’s performance and I was just reminded again of my response to this important topic.

I’ve been sitting quietly in the wings of the Internet watching the conversation that occurred in the dance communities after Alistair Macauley’s article, “Choreographic Climate Change.” Many dancers and choreographers were absolutely enraged or astounded by some of the statements that Macauley made in this article and a few dance ethnographers, critics and writers countered his sweeping generalizations with intelligent answers that highlight the flaws in many of his arguments. While his article discussed what he believed is a lack of focus within dance over the last decade, what I found most troubling was his claim that “dance is the art with no history.” I’ve been wondering what it means to label the ephemeral as having no history. The body itself contains an enormous amount of history and dance is the art that utilizes the body first and foremost in communication. Yet, often the body’s history is ignored as it is not easily decipherable. I’m interested in this because my work as a writer attempts to communicate with the language of the body, its nuances and its various histories. The body is absolutely fascinating and anyone who studies it or focuses on it, regardless of which field they approach it from, understands this. It is an organism that is what we depend on to survive, that we derive our identity from, our pleasure from and from whence new forms of life originate. It is an amazingly complicated system that is designed to survive, constantly repairing itself and breaking down, aging and revealing new elements to us. The body has a very subtle, powerful and honest vocabulary that says things where words cannot. Yet, we have no formal codification of this vocabulary and so we don’t understand how interesting and complex our own bodies are as we often focus mainly on our minds and we divorce our minds from our bodies. That is where the disconnect between a written text and a choreographed piece comes into play. Yet, both of these have histories that originate from the body. Maybe humanity – or more precisely Western culture – should really pay attention to what the body is trying to say, how it says it and what its concept of the ephemeral means to all of us. Maybe once we grasp the significance of the ephemeral we will come to terms with the fact that all history is ephemeral because all of it is written by the body.

Most recent

Performances I most recently saw:

Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins @ The Public Theater (via the Lab)
Catch 38 @ Center for Performance Research
Whatever Heaven Allows by Radiohole @ PS 122
Women in a Holy Mess by Ai Nagai, adapted by Andy Bragen @ The Japan Society
A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller @ The Cort Theater

Dreams from the West

Well, I’ve disappeared for the whole month of December. I’ll blame it on the holidays. In the meantime, let’s play catch-up.

San Francisco was a perfect escape. I felt as if I were leaving everything behind to be in a city that I barely knew. I’ve heard San Francisco has often been the place people have left their other lives behind to move to. It felt like the hills surrounding the city insulated me from my life, if at least for a few days.

So there was I was hanging out late nights in the Mission, eating at St. Francis and walking along Mission Street up towards Market, admiring the art at Galaria de la Raza and taking in the sights and sounds in the Haight and Golden Gate Park. I spent too much money at Amoeba, but they had such a selection of hard to find music that I just couldn’t resist. I had only 3 days really to take it all in, but oh the weather was gorgeous and perfect for a flaneur (as long as you’re fit enough for the hills, that is). I headed over to Berkeley on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to prep and run the minimal tech at Subterranean Arthouse. I arrived early and was lucky to meet both Aharon Wheels Bolsta and the writer Hyla Shifra Bolsta. Aharon was teching his piece inspired by the works of composer Lou Harrison. I spent the remainder of the day hanging out at the Arthouse, catching up with both Claire Duplantier and Catherine Duquette. Catherine curated the performance festival “Geographical Assemblage: Mythological Landscapes of the Body” and her piece “Triptych of the Southwest”, shown on Saturday, was mesmerizing. Claire is a co-owner of Subterranean Arthouse, a unique venue for performance, visual arts and music that deserves to be supported by anyone and everyone who knows the significance that arts spaces make in a community.

I wandered around Berkeley that afternoon for a break and noticed that the streets weren’t congested with students, as it was Thanksgiving weekend and a good majority of them were elsewhere visiting family. There were loads of nice restaurants and bars in the area and I ended up hitting an organic kebab place called Razan Organic Kitchen on Kittredge Street near the campus. Yummy delicious and highly recommended! When it started to rain (and it poured, which is very unusual for the Bay Area) I headed back over to get ready for the evening.

The festival was a success and I met some amazing artists and performers such as Minna Harri, whose work, “Raja” was an excerpt from a longer dance composition of hers that examined stillness. She writes about her choreographic process on this work here. It was one of my favorite compositions of both evenings. I also enjoyed a video by a digital media artist named Bo Sul Kim, who was not in attendance. Her video “Shadow, My Shadow” (a portion of which you can see on Bo Sul Kim’s Vimeo page ) combined interactive computer generated images with a dancer interacting with these images. I also really liked “The Shi Series” created and performed by Margit Galanter.

Anyways, that was my California experience, at least for now. I’ve been thinking it might do me well to head back out to the west coast again soon…

Of the body

I think about the body, or the concept of the body, often for my performance work. I don’t think about it perhaps the way an theater actor or a dancer may think of the body while creating compositions or stagework, though I incorporate training and conceptualization from both realms. I think about the body from the position of writing for performance and what it ends up turning into is usually a form of hybrid theater/movement-poetry. A mashup of sorts that works out in its non-linear narratives and visuals. My work somehow tries to bridge the abstractness of movement and language, which are often vying with each other.

So, I’ve been creating this performance piece and it’s been an interesting journey. This weekend I’ll show another version of it in San Francisco/Berkeley. I’m excited about it, but also a bit nervous as it’s not meant to be a solo show though it’s proving to help me create this complex character, an alterego of multiple personalities packed into a mythological body of sorts.

This version incorporates three different video renditions with performance work/choreography that was created in collaboration with Carl K. Li, Jeanie Tse, Niina Pollari, Rebekah Mindel and Rebekah Steinfeld (who also directed the WAXworks version and helped with the Hallwalls version and whose work has been a foundation for the piece’s subsequent versions). It also includes soundscapes of the text I’ve written and video work of skylines (as the piece is set in a mythological NYC). I’ll be performing it as an interactive piece this time.

Labyrinthine in its structure, it is always encompassing yet another layer of complexity with every new turn.

Here’s more info on the performance:

mythbody