Summer Solo Studio Practice #7

It feels like summer today outdoors. Being in the studio feels a little cramped and sterile.

I start with an improvisation on finding space in between the joints of my body. I start at the feet and the ankles, letting the bones glide. I move to the knees and hips, inviting my weight to drop. I start sweating quickly.

I imagine the space between my vertebrae moving, find spirals and points of connection between the ribs, the sternum, the collarbones. My skull balances on top, responding to the shifting underneath. 

I decide that I want to use some improvisation in my contemporary class next fall as a method of training. Somatic exploration can sometimes be a more direct route to teaching an idea than developing complicated phrasework for students.

I organize with some stretching, plies, leg swings.

As I’m reviewing the material I’ve been working on, I realize that my quality of movement as I’m marking is better than when I do it full out. Typical and familiar insight but always surprising when you realize it somehow.

I keep working through the movement, maintaining this marking quality, adding speed but also more breath, more swing. It feels closer to what I’ve been searching for.

I watch the video and like what I see, but worry about nuance. How to find subtlety in freedom?

I get tired so I sit down awhile and organize some playlists. I pull out an essay by Luce Giard in The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol.2. Dr. Bench suggested last semester that I should read some de Certeau and this is an extension of his work. The essay by Giard confirms something I’ve been thinking about in relation to sensation, dancing, and oddly, cooking.

Earlier this year, I hinted at such a connection in this post on my artistic practice for Susan Petry’s graduate composition class:

“I am trying to figure out how to make a practice out of collecting sensory experiences…How do I create something from the rhythm of chopping carrots and slicing onions and the sense of sitting and waiting while I let them boil in the pot? I want to capture the sensations of daily experience. “

In Giard’s essay, she describes her reticence to learn to cook. Career-focused, intelligent, and fervently dedicated to living as a feminist and writer, Giard had little interest in the domesticity and household activities of her female elders.

But once Giard lived alone, she found, at first to her dismay, a joy in cooking. The sensation of organizing and putting together meals and tasting food seemed to emerge from her own body without ever being taught, a hidden ability that connects her to the women who came before her. What particular struck me is that Giard found in cooking a similar pleasure of manipulation and sequencing that she sensed when writing, a direct link from daily living to creative working.

I might argue for a similar correlation between the sensation of cooking, of preparing and waiting and assembling and tasting, to that of dancing and making dances.

In the studio, I try to think about how I might play with these ideas in the flesh and wonder if I can use Giard’s text.  Using text has never been a strong point for me. Every time I do it just feels badly done and usually unnecessary. I start just by writing down the phrases and words that interest me.

“basic gestures”
“strung together”
“interminable repetition of household tasks”
“attention given to the body of others”
“a silent legend”
“by merely living in it with my hands and body”
“it came to me from my body body”
“secret language”
“a way of being in the world”

I feel like I’m on to something and that feels exciting, but I don’t know what to do with any of it.

I decide to come back to it next time and begin the long walk home feeling tired. This task of making dances is sometimes just so exhausting.



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