Sunday, March 20, 2011

inspirations: Doug Varone

In response to Chapters from a Broken Novel, performed at the Joyce Theater, March 20, 2011, 8pm.

-the beauty of individual variations within a unison part of a dance
-audible breath as a signature of work
-paradox of slow movement during a fast tempo song and vice versa
-the insinuation of impending doom garnered from continuous movement
-the allowance of sound, per chance.

***The bravery of sticking with a certain idea, motif, notion, for much, much, much, longer than expected. Allowing the work to develop itself because it must, rather than because the choreographer shies away from exploring an idea to its infinite limit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

in the aftermath

soldier victim
perpetrator perpetrator
amputated gone from birth
capability disability

eternal youtheternal dependence

i wake in the wake of air passing through me
possessed by the phantom of my grandfather's inhale
on a night when mist weighed more than corpses
and footfalls ran faster than blood.

i wake in the parting of clouds by sound
the storming of houses by wind
lick-washed clean
and warmed in a blanket of asphyxiation

i wake in the calm surrender of crops at my feet
falling witness to life,
evanescent in the liminal silence

where no bomb has fallen.

relief gone to seed in my pores.

rehearsal 3: washing

Investigated the futility of washing with contaminated water.
The paradox inherent in trying to cleanse yourself in
the very material you are trying to rid yourself of.
How to purge a chemical that is
invisible, odorless, and tasteless?
How to live with a disease dormant in you
that doesn't die with your last breath
but instead is exacerbated in the birth of your child--
and theirs--
and theirs--

I saw a documentary short recently where the narrator said that the only way for a woman to get rid of her dioxin levels, because it is a lipophilic chemical, is to pass it on to her child.
I don't know for sure if this is true,
but if so, the moral implications of giving birth to a child
just became much more complicated.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

rehearsal two.

Was choreographing at Chez Bushwick and was
influenced by the ceiling fans
and the notion of how soldiers will have flashbacks
of helicopters due to PTSD in the presence of fans.

I then began ruminating about the ambivalent nature
of helicopters
as a signifier of both
salvation and
and decay.

As helicopters became the new face of calvary units
they were both the carriers of c-rations
and the undertakers of corpses.

This ambivalence is examined in a film I saw at the MOMA
by Dinh Q Le
about how a family that used to be sprayed with defoliants
are now in the business of making helicopters
as their foray into the technologically driven world.

Thus, I began investigating the
serene, calm, and quiet-
the relief and the awe associated with the first
glimpses of a helicopter over the horizon;
this is manifested in a gestural series
of that progression
from awe to...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dance Movement Therapy at Maimonides

Last Thursday, I observed and participated in a Dance Movement Therapy session at Maimonides Hospital in south Brooklyn under the guidance of Patricia Capello, and her Pratt intern, Lisa. It was a 50 minute session in the in-patient unit of the Psychiatric wing. Capello believes in performing the session in a public space so that patients can decide when to join or remove themselves with their own volition. This small choice helps to build a patient's self efficacy, as well as sense of control and safety in the process. Because the unit is a short-stay facility, the group members change each session, and it is important that each session is a complete experience, which is rare for most DMT groups.

It was important for me to view first hand the DMT process, after researching it peripherally as an undergraduate, and taking a short weekend workshop with David Alan Harris. While the session proceeded, more or less, as I expected it would, I was still impressed by my own corporeal experience of the session and the sense of group development I felt during the short 50 minutes.

Capello outlines 5 main sections of the session:
1. warm up: welcome into space, safety
2. release: build energy of the group, explore space, interact with one another
3. theme: explore main ideas that evolve
4. centering: prepare for ending of session, grounding
5. closure: say goodbye, terminate and reflect on session

The use of TOUCH as a tool of connection was particularly effective in developing relationships with the patients.

Most strikingly, I remember a patient, M, whose eyes lit up after the dance therapist adapted a movement he was doing and allowed that movement to be the one that the group shared. For a man who otherwise smiled little, and made little eye contact, it was evident that the appropriation of his movement for the group's experience was a huge boost in his sense of efficacy and confidence.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Helicopter-- awe, relief, fear, resent.

gestural series:
circling the ear
tracing down the throat
wrist circle at heart
umbilical cord

in circles
parallel to the floor
held in the air

"How the sound of the gunshot arrives ten years later"

panty hose
a bible.

ammunition rounds

Trudging through the sludge

Inhaling the shit

Tasting the crust of the earth in your nasal passages

Stagnancy of a rice paddy

How it is affirming when you die in a river of shit


Shit to begin with reaffirmed by experiencing it.




Depending on which side of the coin you’re on

Heads or tails

Great for you that your luckiness is their unluckiness

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Met with Ann Nguyen for coffee the other day in NYC.
She is a college student whose high school senior project named Make Agent Orange History inspired an organization by the same name. So far, it's the most comprehensive (and most legible) website about this topic that I've been able to find.

Go to for more background information, resources, and future plans regarding Agent Orange.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I have an admission to make:

This project scares me.
As I read stories of war, disability, history
I become inundated in the images
I have both seen
and created for myself in my mind
As Tim O'brien admits
the truth becomes skewed when viewed through the convex mirror of storytelling.
It is part truth and part story.
Part creation.

As an artist creating a work
I have not the tools that a therapist possesses
and as such
I am partially afraid that I will, too,
inherit a war and a disability I have not lived
or owned.
That was partially my intention.
To begin to know
To cope
To recover.

That does not mean it still doesn't scare me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ashes to ashes, dust to DUST.

Went to see Dust performed by the Paul Taylor Dance Company on Saturday night at New York City Center. One of the dancers who I am collaborating with suggested it because there is a section of the dance where a dancer performs an "amputee" solo where her left arm is held to her chest.

The dance was...beautiful.
It was narrative. It was illustrative.
It told the story of a flock of organisms with some sort of un-ability
The malady shifted and morphed as the sections progressed: a broken arm, blindness.
It was synchronous with the harpsichord/clavichord (?) instrumentation in the background.

But like any novice creative writer will relay, a story is better shown, not told.
The movement echoed the swells of emotion in the music to tell the story of burden. At one point, a dancer was tossed like a knapsack (or a koala?) between other dancers emphasizing the weight and burden that propagated through the community. However, despite this use of weight to represent restraint, the entire piece lacked any genuine struggle!

The dancers were complete, whole, able-body dancers. In fact, they were hyper-anthropomophic-ballet-aesthetic-ideal bodies (with long torsos), that were too beautiful to communicate any felt sense of struggle, restraint, or pain. I was ultimately unable to suspend my disbelief long enough to extract any sense of sympathy or empathy even, for the dancers who were pretending to be otherwise affected. Moreover, the dance ends with a tableau that suggests the evolutionary development of the afflicted man, from a woman who crawls without the use of legs to a woman who stands, upright, while expanding her arms like the wings of a crane.

Forgive me, because though I acknowledge the beauty in a stage that is side lit by a single column of light on stage right, and the constructed shadows that reflect the haunting of our other selves, I simply did not see the light at the end of the tunnel, because there was no struggle to begin with.

Perhaps I am a dancer/choreographer with a masochistic dimension who longs for effort and struggle to be exhibited voyeuristically on stage. This is probably true. I am, however, not interested in playing pretend gimp, and alluding to any false hope that a person born without an arm can suddenly become an erect emaciated ballet dancer. Mostly, I find the notion that a community of disabled bodies should somehow aim to assimilate into abled body life absurd, offensive even--it assumes that the construct of abled/disabled is one worth recognizing in the first place.

Elements I did take away:
  • weight as indicative of burden
  • notion of blindness not just congenitally but as hysterical blindness as it relates to Khmer Rouge and PTSD
  • the form of an amputated arm--what does it look like? congenital or accident?
  • contraction with leg hold--limp.
  • shadows of us that are bigger than ourselves (literally and metaphorically)
  • people who create the context--used as space holders in defining relationship and space between dancers
I also saw Cloven Kingdom and Three Dubious Memories. They were both fine.

*NOTE: I still find myself struggling with the notion of disability and using that particular word to describe the phenomenon that I am interested in. It seems detached, colonistic, and mostly it just feels wrong between my lips. To be continued...explored...problematized...I suppose.