I love a good detective story. I love them the most when the detective has no idea what the case is, exactly, or how to proceed. A lot of 'em start from this point, and then become boring as things begin to make sense. I want to be watching someone, knowing that the person's actions may be deadly important, but without a notion as to what it is that the person is up to. Maybe it's nothing. Maybe I'm watching someone running to the hardware store to get a box of screws for something mundane, like hanging drywall. Or maybe they're for constructing something terrible in a locked portion of that person's apartment. Or maybe the box of screws doesn't even have screws in it. (?!?!??!???) Something about being on the trail, following, without knowing the reason for it. Only answering a will to unravel, to confront an unnameable destiny. And so, maybe my favorite is when a detective finds herself suddenly face to face with a monster that has been there, very close, all along. Not a dialectical, rational process of problem solving, but an abrupt and inevitable confrontation.
Making a performance almost always feels like this to me, and I would say that Becoming-Corpus is no exception. When I am working on a solo piece, I surround myself with whatever things are attracting me (films, images, writing, music, concepts, experiences), with only a vague notion of why they are seductive. And then I follow leads, and respond as best I can. As above, the point is not exactly to unravel the mystery, but to find myself face to face with something that has been in the room the whole time without my knowing it. All the better if that thing stays shrouded to some degree in its own mystery. The fact that I recognize it and note where I stand in relationship to it is key. With the ensemble piece, a similar process is happening, but I feel as though it is less rooted in particular things like films, concepts, music, etc... and more in the intensity of working in a personal way with seven very different dancers. Our director is insistent upon the presence of our particular personalities in the piece, and so we are working out what that could even mean. It's not totally clear yet. And a lot of times, it feels like blindly flailing about for leads. But, crucially, discoveries do occur. And we are brought to face with one another in pretty raw ways. Working in this way can be frustrating, but to me it feels like a worthy battle. At this point, we are able to respond to one another in much subtler ways than six months ago--a product of much time spent together--and the things that come up in rehearsal feel more interesting, more connected. It feels like we will come to some striking confrontations (we have come to some already, thankfully. it is promising that they come at every step of the process), and that we will have a piece that is able to put each dancer on display in her or his own mysterious existence, rather than in the service of a conceptual framework. Further, that we will end up being able to work together in a piece that is greater than the sum of its dancers, that displays something none of us could have predicted. So, there we are, each rehearsal, in some dark room with the slatted blinds pulled, smoking a cigarette, waiting for someone to knock on the door.
Hock Trill recommends:
Two detective stories without a case: