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I happened to be going to City Hall to get a document, so Closer happened as part of my everyday activities. It was like walking through the city to get to your destination and you happen upon a moment that makes you stop and take the time to experience it – a bird nest in the crevice a building, a tucked away mini urban garden of lillies. You know, the things that make life beautiful and important. Getting out of your brain and noticing what’s right there and allowing yourself what seems like a luxury to just experience something. Closer was a little luxury in my day.
During the performance I had an unexpected history lesson. Otto was dancing for me, taking me through Minneapolis City Hall. This building, despite its beauty, I had never set foot in.
Otto, a white male performer led me through a hallway. He danced in place, in front of an art deco looking bathroom sign: “Men”. Otto continued, as three white men in business attire slowly walk through the ongoing performance. Perplexed, they pass on by. He took me around the corner into another narrow hallway displaying portraits of all past Minneapolis mayors, 45 white men, one black woman, and one white woman. Sharon Sayles Belton was the first African American and the first woman to be mayor! Otto continued to dance as I give myself permission to look more closely and take in these faces of power.
During the performance I found myself remembering my visits to the state capitol in Lincoln, NE where I grew up, the field trip I took as a fourth grader, and the fear that I had to behave in that building. It knew it was not a playground. But, last week I sat, crawled, ran, laughed, jumped in the elevator, and hid. These things, I would never have attempted as a kid visiting my state capitol. I was given some kind of permission to explore this Romanesque style building even with all it’s formalities, as an adult. I was given the permission to do what naturally I would have loved to do as a child. Loved it.
On behalf of Edward Vogel:
“I have had some up close and personal dance performance experiences over several decades and BodyCartography’s closer is straight up astounding. From technique to physicality to audience connection to pure joy of movement…”
I became closer to the natural surroundings, more in tuned to the trees, the wind in the trees, the passing birds. I noticed my own body more in reaction to the present and to the “the dancer” I was watching and later interacting with. It was a chance to be present in the way I imagine animals are in their surroundings. It was a gift and reminder of what’s important that most humans in the busy hub bub of their days are unaware of.
During the performance I found the question or topic of performer-audience relationship to be very present for me in large part because the style of performance it takes or the approach it takes is different from the interactions we often observe when asking this question. We are used to observing performances in theaters or theater-based performances where there appears to be a distinct line between the role of the performer and the role of the audience. Or we may address this same question when at an improvisational jam noticing how some people choose throughout the jam to take more of an integrated performance role or more of a spectator position, but here the choice is very much that of each individual person and in theory all the people at the event are part of the same ‘category’. What was intriguing to me about my experience with BodyCartography and the one-on-one performance is there were clearly defined roles between myself, the public or viewer, and my performer. Yet the lack of a clear line between us left me feeling invited and wanting to participate more than I would in a more traditional setting yet not arriving at the point where our roles were no longer present as I found this new territory to be interesting and I wanted to respect the role she has chosen to take as the performer. Knowing that my place was placed as the viewer I was curious to see what she had to share yet also felt innately connected with her. It was interested to observe this interaction within my dancer, myself, and the performance itself and has left me extremely curious and continuing to think and reflect. I truly enjoyed it and as a dancer myself it is a question I am going to keep reflecting on and seeing what influence it has in my own explorations!
my second dance was at the stone arch bridge, i was able to let an accordian player weave into the performance. i was happy. Anna Marie danced a hearty and beautiful dance. Earlier, i also, really enjoyed arriving as a friend was starting her dance being performed. i loved the layers of viewing and interaction. it seemed like a very funny idea for the dancer to arrive back “late”. i wasn’t willing to actually try to stop her, or say anything to the audience member/friend- but i did write “stop her” on the side walk for them to find as they came back along a path. some how i felt like changing the trajectory of what i imagined bodycartography’s parameters for the performance were.
Sean Smuda: “The BodyCartography Project’s “closer” will rave your soul. Through the idea of community it threads the spectator into a formlessness of pure sensation to re-emerge as a body newly felt and intentioned.”
during closer ….tho a little uptight w amorphousness and seeking motifs for my own eye brain…..ALL that was satisfied. comforted. and so permitted/invited/ compelled to be my own human bean…. and grew from appreciative of sculpture. exchange. kindwords. kinship…. to black out freedoms. puffs. breaths and moans until my and your own tribe emerged from primordial ooziness to crawlin creature and a million trillion years later from ground to foot to air in but moments of evolution as specie genus phylum DNA.d for glides slides twirls spinning leaps alive and joined
During Closer pt 1 – Anna performed for me and I felt myself questioning my ideas of should/shouldn’t and what’s right/wrong in terms of this one-on-one performance. Should I follow her? Should I dance with her? Can I dance with her//is that “allowed”? Dropping below these questions I found my comfort space of following, watching, feeling what she was doing and how I imagined it to be directly informed by our surroundings.
During Closer pt 2 – Anna performed for me again, which provided some beautiful through-lines for me. There was a sense of continuity and something I had experienced before and could relax into and gave me the opportunity to open up more. We moved, and touched, and it was the connection I was wanting in the first part of Closer and didn’t allow myself to have. The rest of the performance was a blur of questions about what can and can’t be done in a performance, the relationship between audience and performer, and being part of a performance. I felt so immersed in the performance, with my body and emotions. Moments that stuck with me: Olive’s solo and how much it hit me on a very emotional/”I feel what you’re feeling” level – even thinking about it I am transported to those feelings. The immediate feedback after the solo was also much appreciated, followed by another solo. The section in darkness challenged me and got to the core of some fight/flight responses in my body including anxiety and fear.
Overall this project was fantastic and I appreciated it so much. I feel like I went on a journey in the scope of the two parts and part 2 itself.
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