To say that I am jazzed about our newest endeavor is a gross understatement. You see, I'm an artist, but I've always just seen that as the medium. I think I'm really a scientist somewhere deep inside, but my utter lack of talent at math has destined me to remain Earth-bound instead of pursuing my secret childhood dream of being the first dancing astronaut. So while I still imagine getting into zero-G someday (believe me, I have a long list of things I need to do up there already), I've so far had to be content with spending my life just being an avid fan from afar. Hey, I've got an overhead projector and a piece of aluminum foil with pin-holes punched in it. I can make star fields when I need to, but I can't dispense with gravity.
But now, we have instigated the idea of The Invisible Jazz Labs. And here we are, John and I and our fellow artists jazzing with real science as the real scientists discern the science within the jazz. We're creating and exploring idea...
From a continent away we caught rumor of our own ripple, and continued it in the wave to other points unknown from bridge Pont St. Louis behind Notre Dame. Accompanied by La Vie en Rose (for hours) on accordion, and by various international artists who cycle through this particular street's venue, Pearl, Megan, Delaney and myself spent the weekend afternoon in physical echoes of their musical influence. And we were accompanied as well, in turn, by partners from the public who stepped into this echo with us, tagging-on to our entrain and offering us another lesson.
When it's just us, we can permit our chain to shift at times, 180 degrees, so that the tail becomes the head and new lead. But when we turn to find unexpected faces in the ranks--suddenly bestowed with that task--there's no time to explain to make them comfortable being entrusted with the leadership role over a string of dancers they can't see. And because we valu...
I notice, as we discuss applied empathy as a component in the jazz, the inaccessible top floors of ancient history overlooking the Seine; tall gardens wave on that Belle Epoque' rampart. The traffic's sound from there is softer than the blood in your ears, I think. The sunset appears to endow the sheer-curtained rooms with amber; the mirror of the moon rises to partner in the image. The view is a classic dance of hands at the piano: the slow ascending note of the moon, underpinned by the swooning notes of curtains in the evening wind.
It's a venture into inestimable beauty without a promise of an end, this place. So we are nesting, making a structural shell of everything found and collected. The method manual on the jazz grows over strong coffee. We're writing, reciting, catching every reading, scouting the streets in preparation for performances, killing baguettes like it's our job. Days of museums o...
There's little worse as a dancer than not knowing if your partner 'has you'. Today none of us knew how to tow the line against the consequence of forthcoming downpours. Chalk gets obliterated, dancers get sick, and no one wants to hear some sad cat of a violin in the rain. The last Pocket is postponed then... till post-Paris.
Though now, considering, we might just come up with performances requiring the rain.
The project deserves that integrity, where purpose occupies the forefront in design. The fact that the rain is not a welcome partner to us now--or that any inclemency could forbear us--is profitable evidence of room for growth.
For now we'll sit home and dream how we'll partner with thunder someday, take the lightning as direction. Yeah, collaboration on level with the sky.
We really looked forward to the reprise of "In Circles", like having gotten to know an adversary well before a fight. This state of near stillness requires a slow, leaking hiss of attention. So, pinching the air in a readied pose, you blow a suspended kiss goodbye to 'time' as an objective quantity, and let the ripples of rainbows recede away--in this case, across the confluence at Gateway Four.
Everyone can appreciate time as an investment. Today our choice of investiture was gestures whose evidence remained in chromatic stains on the ground, the visible pulses of one private experience of duration. I wouldn't expect the public to note it, but they marched upon the echoes of us, as on the long hem of a dress as we danced as if invisibly. A cyclist who rode through the rings called it 'Gravity', as though the dancers were anchors to that force. And while I'd been thinking: who could help but think of candy a...
We never stop learning in Pockets--inner clarity, outward focus, the dynamic at play we call 'red'. Being viewed from all directions requires a constant choice-making presence, while today's Pocket, "A Ripple In Time" strung along an alley, viewable only by end-long comings and goings, required a focus in entirely one facing direction. It's almost meditative -- to both perform and watch -- and doesn't tax the mind in the same way as constantly swimming a 360-pool of possibility and attention. Jumping in (at one end) is easy also. Once again, those surprised to find a Pocket were surprised also to realize they could be a part of it.
The performers created one long, unbroken sight-line, focusing on revealing simple, unlikely order amid the casual chaos of the city. With the absence of the chalk we usually use to document time, no one had any indication of how long the...
The day began with reading the shredded propaganda on the wall as we Lysol-ed the length of said wall chosen as our performance site in Strawberry way. "A Meeting Downtown" is a chalked meeting of perhaps the two most highly skilled durational-movement artists, Taylor Knight and Anna Thompson (aka: slowdanger). The actual "meeting" was set to happen in a doorway between them, twenty feet and two hours away. Thereafter, a two hour departure would follow, each in the other's path.
Their slow-motion rendezvous, pursued throughout in chalked designs, drew the now most familiar of questions: 'What is this?' I think many answers in my mind before answering in the literal. This is endurance dance, it's patience. It looks painful? Yes, mostly later. Are they on drugs? No, it's not drugs, drugs would be too easy. If it looks like a trance, perhaps diligence is a trance. A meditation? Sure, why not. It's the opportunity for ques...
The dancers of the "Free/Fall" work today deserved congratulations all around, for their trust. Dance is safe on a stage, in its home, with the audience primed and paying.
There's no safety net on the street, in the open theatre where everyone's on the stage with you, as you are--not playing a part, just diligently being an open version of you. And the audience, openly being themselves, joined in the art today where Fifth meets Liberty, aware of no reason for pretense on a street corner. People make-up their own minds what to consider as 'art' when the answer isn't dictated to them.
Without expectation of applause, and without protocols for behavior or guarantees of courtesy, the dancers spent four hours in a striving sculpture of trust, extended as a gift. If you're genuine, you find the gift reflected. We saw integrity today, saw its mirror up close in an audience that couldn't get any c...
Another day of scuppered expectations and shifting plans, with the result of more creative outcomes than plans alone had promised with "A "Pocket of Jazz", which was intended to be a good-ol'-fashioned jazz on the streets, as we have done so many times before around the world. When the first site proved ill-suited to our purposes, the performance was easily relocated to one of the city's new bike racks, which instantly played the part of both drum kit rack and integral percussion for PJ Roduta.
*side note: PJ can turn anything into a percussion instrument. He could play the tag in your hat... we've seen it!
Despite the wind and rain and passing roar of busses, he played his sticks to shrapnel while Zek and Troy put their years of dance theatre training to task for a four corners audience on Penn Avenue.
We owe a miscreant note of thanks to sculptor Brett Yasko, and to the Cultural Trust's support of the bike rack project downtown, for (inadvertentl...
Levels of lessons in patience today with the Thought Pocket "In Circles". Nature made nesting dolls of the fact.
We waited on the rain to end so we could begin making rings of our own with dancers as the impact points instead. Many throughout the day repeated the query "What is this?", including concerned security personnel for the building nearby. "It's the exercise of patience, of endurance, and personal focus outside of time," we explained. Perhaps odd pursuits for public display, but the public was pleasantly accepting, and we were permitted to continue in the interim between occasions of afternoon rain.
Just as slowing one's mind will find reflection in the body, simply slowing one's movements changes the tempo of the mind till your connection with the objective passage of time dissolves. Thoughts replace the seconds' tick, and your psyche becomes the timepiece, your feelings the authority reference. This phenom...
Dance is used to being separated from the witness and vice versa. That little invisible bubble of space that just forms and makes it understood that dance "gets space" to distinguish the dancers from the non.
But what happens when that space is removed all together? When nobody is an audience? Nobody a performer? We're all just people out here doing something different, going about different things with different intents, but being... honest. And open. And together.
Dance you can walk around or through or along side of... this is what intrigues me. Dance as a common thing and not something requiring a ticket or fancy dress clothes to go see. Something that doesn't require years of training to get close to, or stand next to; An everyday occurrence just a part of your regular experience. Dance happening like anything else. Today's "A Ripple in Time" work on Strawberry Way (my personal favorite nook in all of Downtown Pittsburgh) was just that.
Not often do you have trucks driving through your creative piece, although it's an informative contrast, at least in this case. Dancers Taylor Knight and Anna Thompson performed a slow motion meeting on Garrison Place that took two hours to complete, and two hours more to extricate.
In the time-installation "A Meeting Downtown", chalked poetry pursued Taylor, while chalked designs entrained Anna along the sidewalk and crossing through the graveled mid-point of the street, where the two danced as if never separate.
The rainbow echoes of their encounter might last a day before erased, but some souls passed by
and noticed, and paused to appreciate. While the time-lapse of their story lives on in our joints,
in a self-satisfying collection of well-earned aches.
If an adversary can be conceived of as one's partner in a dance, then the partner to
today's premier of Pockets was the rain--you can't always choose your partner. But the dancers creating the debut of Thought Pockets with "Free/Fall" turned their faces to the sky and didn't flinch; slow as statues, they extended open palms and engaged with bliss.
The sandwich board played shelter to a huddled brood of shoes, as the barefoot six made a shallow proscenium of the sidewalk facing the Benedum on Seventh Street. Today their partner was more compassionate than the weather as predicted, and a transient audience was bemused to pause and watch a bit before moving on. But storms remain the forecast for much of the nine days yet to come. Every production has its challenges, and every partner their peculiarities. We'll have to keep working-out new plans for accommodating this partner that soaks you to the bone....
Working on the concepts of Thought Pockets brings us back to our everyday perceptions of time and extended duration... both of which are personal [artistic] obsessions of mine. It's experiencing a piece long after the performer is gone, filling in the blanks of what must have occurred before you encountered it, where it's going and how long it will endure after you leave.
This morning we created a mini-Pocket in the alley way outside of our place in The Strip District, preparing for the poster of Thought Pockets (to be created this weekend). John was very patient and spent his morning laying around as I did all the work. Aaron Jackendoff took his time getting to the alley to shoot the moment, all which was very fitting. But even as we finished, the Thought remains, the color impression of a man once on the ground, still but in lined-motion, showing the duration of his stay... at least until it rains.
Plans well underway for the official launch of the Thought Pockets project, all though we are still awaiting confirmation from The Pittsburgh Foundation on the project's funding (fingers crossed). Chalk acquired. Locations scoped. We're looking forward to creating a whole new level of 'stumbleupon wonder' for Downtown Pittsburgh in some truly unexpected places.
If all goes well, thoughts circle around the notion of taking some Pockets to Paris and Amsterdam later this Fall... Now the question is: will Customs think it perplexing, the 20 pounds of chalk in our checked luggage?