dance

Hur skulle jag beskriva det här språket

Nu har Koreografisk Journal # 5 kommit! Läs mer på Koreografiska Konstitutet. Jag bidrog med en text om den samtida koreografins tillstånd, publicerar den här också.

Hur skulle jag beskriva det här språket
Det här är ett språk som skämtar frenetiskt, som tvångsmässigt avslöjar sin relation till festivalbarer och the days of summer. Det här är språket som lägger sitt pärlband av rena svettdroppar på din tungspets. Det här är språket som välkomnar dig hjärtligt när du trillar in av en slump ifrån gatan. Det här är språket som förstrött äter upp dig och spottar ut dig om du inte hänger med i tugget. Det här är språket som kommer riktigt nära, riktigt snabbt. Det här är språket som terroriserar alla med sina hjärtan och smileys. Det här är språket som ständigt förvandlas, en fjäril med tusen vingar. Det här är språket som inte klarar av att hålla fast vid någonting. Det här språket är sammanhangslöst, utkastat, förflackat. Det här språket strålar som en diamant. Det här språket går sönder i klyschor om man tittar närmare på det. Det här är ankomsthallarnas språk, champagnefirandets språk. Det här är språket utan produktionstid.

Det här är språket där kroppsliga gränser flyter, där du sällan klarar av att urskilja dig själv bland de andra. Det här är språket som älskar extas, droger och orgasmer. Det här är språket som kan vända allting på en kväll. Det här är språket som inte blir kvar i staden tillräckligt länge för att ta konsekvenserna av sina chance operations. Det här är språket som saknar hemvist. Det här är språket som omtänksamt byter till engelska när en ny person sätter sig vid bordet. Det här är språket som innehåller hälsningsfraser på danska, tyska, finska, italienska, hebreiska, franska, arabiska och spanska, men som inte kan formulera en tanke till sitt slut utan stöd av engelskan. Det här språket är mjukt, formbart och följsamt som neonfärgat slajm.

Det här är språket som vränger engelskan ut-och-in och upp-och-ner. Neologismer, falska vänner som alla börjar acceptera, helt nya grammatiska fenomen. Det här är språket som återuppfinner den ömsesidiga förståelsen gång på gång. Plural-s, konjunktioner, tempus och pronomen i upplösning. Det här är språket som omfamnar förändring och förvandling. Aspirerade H och tonande S försvinner och ersätts med nya ljud. Det här är de splittrade subjektens språk. I ordförrådet florerar dansspecifika termer, fackbegrepp som ingen utanför kretsen riktigt har grepp om, diverse scentekniska prylar, och såklart, den speciella vokabulär som alltid växer fram kring ett verk. Det här är språket som är till för att alltid vara trevlig på. ”The jazz jobotomy”, ”I’m just a pool boy”, ”ten breaths and then go”. Det här är språket som har veck i sig fulla av internskämt och andra uttryck som bara några få personer kan begripa. Det här är språket som aldrig någonsin får överblick på sig självt.

Det här är språket som glatt och ogenerat klampar i kobajs varje gång det rör sig åt det mer formella hållet. Det här är språket som lider av mindervärdeskomplex. Det här är språket som vare sig det vill det eller inte avslöjar de akademiska referenserna som rekvisita i en ständigt sönderfallande iscensättning av stringens. Det här är ett språk som på djupet vet vad imitation vill säga. Det här ett språk som gör exakt som läraren visar i syfte att håna lärarens omedvetna brister, och sedan gör en oskyldig min när läraren säger det var inte så, nu gör ni fel. Det här språket växer fram ur repetitionen av olika sorters fraser. Framför spegeln, i bidragsansökningen, på diagonalen, på premiärminglet. Det här är ett till perfektion inövat språk. Det här är ett parodiskt, dilettantiskt och slarvigt språk. Det här språket bebos av personer som vill ändra kommateringsregler för att det passar deras ideologi men som samtidigt skiter i att korrläsa sina programblad. Det här språket har en stark relation till former och trick. Det här språket har en svag relation till sin egen historia, för vad ska man med en historia till när den ändå är så kort, fragmenterad och fylld av skam och disciplin.

Det här är språket som vill hylla och välkomna alla sorters människor för att göra upp med sin historia av skam och disciplin. Det här språket odlas på Europas konstnärliga högskolor och hålls vid liv genom scener, festivaler och organisationer med övervägande europeisk finansiering. Det är ett språk som dyrkar svart musik men exkluderar bruna kroppar. Det är ett språk som räddar ditt liv när du precis har börjat tro att du var dömd att se din vilja till dans progressivt minska i takt med att du blir sämre och sämre på att gå ner i spagat. Det här är språket som återupprättar din eufori, som ber dig älska varje kota i din ryggrad. Det här är språket som inte vet vad det ska göra med ett missbruk eller en ätstörning.

Det här är språket som ber dig att värma upp med fyrtio graders feber. Det här är språket som bjuder in dig till att äga din egen sexualitet på scenen, samtidigt som det precis har lärt sig stava till me too. Det här är språket som försäkrar dig om att du är oersättlig, men som kickar ut dig om du säger nej en enda gång. Det här är språket som älskar det unga, det starka och det vackra. Det här är språket som accepterar att allting är skört och kan ta slut. Det här är språket som låter dig ligga still och känna på din andning hela arbetsdagen. Det här är språket som vill avskaffa kapitalismen, uppfinna världen på nytt. Det här är ett språk där alla jobbdealar görs efter kl 19.00. Det här är ett språk som vill ge dig makten över produktionsmedlen. Det här är ett språk som inte har ett lekrum iordningställt för barnen. Det här är ett språk som ger dig pengarna i cash.

Det här är ett språk som är grundförutsättningen för allt ditt kompositionsarbete, oavsett om det tar sig uttryck i att skriva text eller dans. Det är ett språk som finns där innan texten, innan dansen. Det här språket delar du med andra, det är det språket som ni skriver tillsammans även när du tror att du inte skriver alls. Det här är ett språk som inom sig håller makten att gemensamt förändra det som är.

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Where Were We, documentation

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This year, I’ve established a project together with Israeli choreographer Uri Turkenich. The project went through different forms. First, we played games with Inana, then we had a Derridian episode at Skogen, after that we danced with the cool kids in Berlin at 3AM and now in October we went physical in Weld. The project deals with intimate conversations as a performative practice. During the coming year we will tour a bit and we would like to tour more (so ask us to come by writing to me!).

Here is a documentation of the performance – a part of me learning to video edit, by the way. Above is an image from the performance (snapped by Marika Troili or Sofie Anderson; unsure) and here is a link to the festival we were part of at Weld. The project was supported by The Swedish Arts Grant Committee, but also by c.off, who made an interview with us here.

Documentation, There Is No Outside-Text

As I have posted about before, me and Uri Turkenich made our first artistic cooperation this spring, with the support of coproducer Skogen (Gothenburg) and The Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Here is a video documentation of show 3. Slowly learning to edit…

Me and Uri really liked this project, and it seems we are going to continue working on the practices and themes that developed through it in a new show during 2016-2017. More on that later…

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Photo: Anna Lamberg, 29/3 2016, Skogen, Gothenburg.

The ambivalence of being identified with resistance is totally not bothering me right now

A text from a small solo project I recently run in the context of a residency at the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm.Skärmavbild 2015-09-01 kl. 16.52.52

I was pulled back into this Lithuanian bowling hall from Soviet times. The party organizers had filled it with a thousand balloons popping in irregular outbursts as the feet of the dancers hit them. The soundscape was a divider. I had already spent some time out on the porch with a girl who had flashbacks from air raids. Others just hated balloons. And then there were the drinkers who would never opt for a dance floor in the first place.

I made a toast with pickles and cheese at the post midnight snack table. I was sincerely considering putting ham in despite my vegetarianism, but in the end I was being put off by the sweet and fleshy smell. I experienced some kind of vague relation between that and the fact that someone who was maybe flirting with me earlier (maybe?) seemed to be busy with something else. I didn’t know if I was mostly relieved or disappointed that I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. Balloons were still popping, messing up the beat of some techno remix. My head then started playing a third beat; I was invaded by Lady Gagas Just Dance like some kind of prophetic voice.

I started by shutting out the welcoming smiles. I felt my deep tissue, the pressure of damp air against my skin and the slight movement of the old wooden floor as I gave my weight to it. It was not a question of enjoying it or not. It was just what was at hand, the only reasonable thing that I could give myself in this situation. As the sweat started running I had no questions to myself anymore, just an ongoing imagination of movement in space. I could not be interrupted, because there was no sequence, just the necessary grip of my body around the circumstances. And then I spotted the hopscotch.

Identity in and out of Time

I wrote this text for The Black The Box The Theatre – Texting Textures, that was a series of events programmed by Pontus Pettersson at the stage Weld in Stockholm 11-15 mars 2014. The text was part of an ongoing exhibition, originally edited in a font made by Pontus and written about the piece Preparing for Battle.

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MOPA, My Own Private Army, is a triology. This text is about the first part of that triology, MOPA – Preparing for Battle. Pontus once told me that he thinks of the triology as a series where the last part is a preparation for the preceding, and the middle one a preparation for the first. I find this description meaningful, also because each part in itself does something with time – letting the history, the now and the future of an individual body mingle, addressing experiences of being out of time in different senses.

I saw MOPA – Preparing for Battle at Dansens Hus (Stockholm) in early 2012. To come back to the alternative chronology of MOPA, it is strictly speaking the last part of the triology; the one that concludes the two following. However, I think it is fair to say that that this show also had a past outside its future, that the battle it was preparing for in a sense already took place. The battle that I am referring to is one about the timing of identity – what it takes in order to be perceived as consistent and readable subjects over time. For me, MOPA – Preparing for Battle was very much a work about precisely that.

Before I continue analyzing my experience of this piece, I wish to use myself and my route to writing this text as an example of why the question of identity in time can have conflictual aspects, also in the most mundane social situations – that is, not only in the dramatic transfer between carnivalesque explosive parties and the-day-after confessions/discoveries. It seems reasonable to not think so much of who I was in early 2012. It does not seem reasonable to hold myself in 2012 accountable to any higher degree for what I do now, and even less reasonable to hold myself in 2014 accountable for what I did in 2012. Retrospectively, however, it seems like I was in some sense preparing for writing this text about MOPA – Preparing for Battle already that night when I spoke with Pontus after the show, even though none of us knew it back then. Because I got the question to write this text now two years later, I have the possibility to establish a reassuring line of coherency in my self-narration, introduce a sense of meaningfulness between now and past. Who I was that night two years ago obviously has useful consequences for what I become now. At the same time, the very thought that reassures me of the meaningfulness and consistency of my identity can turn into a worrying potential of losing control of my self-narration. What other things did I do on different nights two years ago? What are the lines, consequences and coherencies that I cannot identify between then and now? What am I forgetting? What am I remembering? Why? In this way, my identity constantly remembers and recognizes itself as other. If the goal of identity is to stay the same, to be identical, then it is indeed very easily thrown into conflict with itself in relation to time.

Let me thus bring this conflictual knowledge of remembering it differently into my relating of what happened that night in 2012. When I saw MOPA – Preparing for Battle, it was the second show of two the same night. The one before was Between Dog and Wolf by Frédéric Alstadt, Kajsa Sandström and Ulrika Berg. During the course of this text, I will get deeper into the fact that shows lined up after each other always influence each other (no matter who is the choreographer). But I will now leave Between Dog and Wolf  behind.

MOPA – Preparing for Battle consists of solos, almost like a set of separate shows within the frame of one performance. Each dancer – the night when I was watching, it was Pontus Pettersson, Bosmat Nossan, Linnea Martinsson and Robert Malmborg, but on other occasions also Anna Pehrsson and Joe Moran – has their own stylized characteristics in terms of both costume, scenography and movement. Generally employing one signature color (blue, red, yellow, green, grey…) and one signature object (clothes, spoons, pearls, metal, boots…), as well as directing open gazes and striking poses towards the audience, the solos give an impression of presenting individual identities as readymade commercial units, like a series of warrior dolls or boy band members.

At the same time, the cuteness, sexiness (in the sense of presenting a lustful carnal quality to, or even for, the gaze of the audience) and general accessibility of these solos have an aspect that withdraws from being locked by the frames of identity. Or rather, if identity has a strive towards sameness, the solos insist that any sameness will inevitably negate itself. This, identity reveals itself as a process or action rather than an object: a constant movement between recognition and lack of recognition. In the solo where Pontus dances himself, timing in its most concrete sense is a part of that withdrawal from sameness. Movements can speed up or slow down in a way that connotes both fast forward, slow motion and the twitchy speed of silent films. This cinematic physicality inserts a certain unpredictability in the commercial unit of identity, something uncanny. Also the other characters presented in the series of solos have different uncanny qualities inserted in what first seems to be a solid, sellable frame. In Bosmat’s solo, the glittering pattern on a bright red cardigan reveals itself to be tea spoons that fall out of the knitwork, giving an image of metal splinters or splitter on the floor, which is also somehow consistent with the sense of inside pouring out that permeates her movement. In Linnea’s solo, she is busy with eating, spitting and spreading pearls all over the space, insisting on it until it changes meaning from fun to compulsive and back again. Robert in his turn engages with the isolation techniques and stop motion aesthetics of street dance in a way that completely overrules the established commercial identity of these styles, and taps into a very human, sulky, and messed up doll-likeness. In this sense, the solos are not only connected by their respective claim to specific and distinguishable salability, but also by how they insist on attacking themselves from within. My Own Private Army thus gets a double meaning in relation to the subtitle/module title Preparing for Battle. It is not only question of a neat collection of war dolls, but also a question of launching war on oneself, breaking down the exact thing that commodifies or locks identity into objecthood.

This said, I think MOPA – Preparing for Battle should not be understood as a piece that presents a critique towards commercialism in a polemic sense. Rather, it proposes an examination of the commercial as an aesthetic category, thus getting the audience hooked through playing on the basic desires and fears of having and losing identity. ”Commercial” becomes a language with versability and adaption as defining features, since its goal is to grab the guts of the consumers and keep them hooked, with whatever means at hand – but also to keep a healthy parasitic balance through refraining form consuming the consumers. Otherwise, the consumers have no chance of regenerating themselves and return for more. With this abstinence oriented way of addressing the audience, MOPA – Preparing for Battle does not have to argue for its own discursive usefulness, cultural importance or political urgency – or at least not anymore than a cup of bubbly dark brown soft drink with a red and white logo does.

Yet, MOPA – Preparing for Battle can never be that bubbly soft drink completely. It breaks out of its own salable category, inscribed as it is in a cultural economy of giving things away for free, and working as it does on and with live dancers that also embody different kinds of resistance to the reduction that commercial unification demands. Thus, the piece becomes a game where the audience can try out different experiences of both selling and buying into the longing, yearning and anticipation that is at the core of commercial exchange, which in its turn leads us back to a three-fold relation to time. To be able to wish for something implies both a feeling of having missed something in the past, of wanting to have it now and of being able to project it as a possible thing to have in the future. Longing is thus a promise of getting control over time – but it is a promise that cannot really be fulfilled. The history and the future is always out of control; the now always cracks, explodes into something unexpected. And this is how MOPA – Preparing for Battle operates: Inviting its audience to mirror both its strive for controllable identities and its capacity of letting go of control.

To move is to touch

Yet again something I wrote for the festival Dans ❤ Stockholm in early December 2013 – this time about On Orientations: Untimely Encounters by An Kaler.

There is a desire in reaching out to the world or letting the world come to you. It can be as great or as small as what we feel for a coffee cup, the caress of the wind or something half unknown. But this desire is also compulsive. But one that is also compulsive. We need points of orientation to move. Without knowing what constitutes space, the body or how the body moves in space, it is impossible to make sense of the movements, to tell the difference between point a and point b, to be able to distinguish the wind, the coffee and the rest. On some days, the necessity of expriencing the world through your body can seem excessively heavy. Why this particular body? Why this particular world?
In Untimely Encounters, one of several works in which Kaler explores orientation in various respects, there is an unusual ease in relation to the constraints of the points of orientation. Since the work comes into being precisely where the intention arises, in movements that precede touching, each direction retains more of its many possibilities. Where a completed movement always risks being tied to its meaning, culturally and relationally, the uncompleted movement leaves an openness as to where it is going. Is it on its way to a cheek, to a wall, into thin air? What will it do there, what will it create? It is undefined and therefore unlocked.
In some ways, Untimely Encounters is a duet – there are two bodies on stage, relating to each other. Disrobing the obligatory love story of the duet is no easy task. The very idea of two bodies on stage asks the question of how they belong together. But precisely because the work consists of a game of directions where the negotiation of each gesture is still open, where one’s own body or the other’s body, as well as the floor, walls and air, are all objects of the same open intentionality, it is also not a duet. The space and its attributes become an additional dance partner, appears in its own function as the bodies turn towards it. Distance and proximity become relative categories: Distance from what? Proximity to what?
These questions should not be mistaken for being an attempt by Untimely Encounters to disorientate the audience by assimilating the movements, rendering them meaningless beside each other. Rather, meaning is created in the relativity of direction. There is an intimacy in the incompleteness that invites those who encounter it to add bit of themselves or mirror a movement in order to understand it, to discover its origin. In this way, Untimely Encounters also involves the audience in the ostensible duet.
On certain days you can feel the friction from every direction taken. It is here the relationship between the body and surroundings is unlocked. The face touches the wind just as much as the wind touches the face, the coffee cup reaches for your hand just as much as the other way around. Such days do not alter the fact that all movement is conditioned by physical and spatial constraints. Yet, they can reveale how movements always touch something bigger than themselves, something that can never be fully overviewed, pinpointed or finished. Untimely Encounters could be an excerpt from such a day.

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Social and political soundscapes

I wrote this text (Niki Woods translated) to the festival Dans ❤ Stockholm in early December 2013, where Band by Ingri Fiksdal and Atlantic by Juli Reinartz  were performing in a double bill.

Fiksdal and Reinartz present two in many ways different works on the same evening. Band is a quartet, Atlantic is a solo. The dancers in Band are quiet with covered heads, while Reinartz turns to address the audience. At the same time, the two performances share a common theme. They both explore concert moments – not the type of concert moments that occur in controlled, bright, state-funded places, but those that happen in cramped and unpredictable club environments. Such concerts alter or direct a nocturnal collective state, injecting rhythm to social and chemical movements in people’s bodies.

Most of us – many more than those who have ever seen a dance performance on stage financed by public funds – have had such a concert experience. Some of us have also had pivotal political and social experiences in such rooms. Identity and relations may emerge in the fandom. And the darkness of the club incites stepping outside the norm, with the potential of both strengthening and undermining the prevailing order.

Fiksdal and Reinartz approach the concert each in their own way as a cultural artefact, relation and sensation. Reinartz’s work with the socio-politics of music forms a piece that likens a concert, not least in the way it paraphrases the “between-song banter”. But this talk is not there to provide an answer as to what the piece portrays. Rather, it aims to establish another type of presence among the audience, getting them ready for what is to come, from the dance or from themselves. Atlantic is on the cusp of the kind of concert moment where many different bodies find their own inner swing, together, and are surprised by it.

Fiksdal’s Band can be described as an almost silent psychedelic concert. The audience sit close to each other by the stage, mostly in the dark, inciting listening with ears and skin. How do the dancing bodies sound? How does the synchronised breathing of audience sound? How does the warmth that radiates from one body to another feel? In the darkness, with the rhythmic repetition of movement, the audience is given the chance to sink back into sensory impressions, blurring the contours of identity.

Band and Atlantic are being performed at MDT, a scene that incites other forms of existence than the singular, unpredictable pulse of the club concert. Nonetheless, this pulse is perceptible in the dance works, explored and offered both as a memory and possibilty for the audience.”And so, watching Band and Atlantic can be like seeing two dance works and two concerts at the same time, but it can also be way of finding new tools for interpreting the so-called regular concert happenings that break into our (night) life, move us and bring us together.

PS.
In preparation for the double-bill show, Reinartz and Fiksdal interviewed each other about their respective works. Their dialogue is published in the MDT program. Not to be missed by those interested in immersing themselves into the two pieces and learning more about the encounter between the choreographic domain and various concert experiences!