We had a great research presentation at the University of Leeds (PCI) on the 5th March 2014 and I believe we have found a good way to present our practice-led research. The space looked beautiful and intriguing with the big kitchen table covered with books, photos and a selection of our research objects. There was even a reoccurrence of the ‘resting corners’ from my previous performance (Before I decide, 2011), with two tables where Louise and I displayed our notebooks and other objects in relation to our identity as researchers – on my table were among others traces from my performances, a photo of Pina Bausch and my small music box from Berlin.
Together with the dance practitioner Louise McDowall, I investigated the identity of researcher and research and how both influence each other. Our intention was to explore where researcher and research are interconnected and influencing each other – acknowledging that the complexity of our lives and identity is reflected in our research, akin to the rhizomic body of researcher and research.
This idea of interconnectivity links well to Paul Schilder’s idea of the body image and Jerome Bel’s idea of the social subject. The position that I have reached at the moment is that the ‘visible choreographer’ reveals the inside out. Bel and Schilder expand this thought by linking the inside to the interconnectivity of each individual. When writing the text for the Ballet International yearbook in 1999 (p. 36), Bel lists all the thirty-three bodies that he was
from Gilles Deleuzes to Myuriam van Imschoot, from Samuel Beckett to ‘unknown individuals in the megalopolis where I live’, from Peggy Phelan to ‘Claude Ramet (an invented name, maybe real)’, from Hegel to Xavier Le Roy. (Bel cited in Lepecki, 2006, p. 50)
What bodies do I carry with me when being the ‘visible choreographer’ in the performance event?
Schilder’s idea of the body image and Bel’s view of the subject develop my idea of the ‘visible choreographer’ further, highlighting the interconnectivity of the subject to its environment. Lepecki states,
For the Austrian psychoanalyst [Paul Schilder] one’s body-image does not simply coincide with the visible presence of one’s body. Rather one’s body-image extends itself to any place any particle of one’s body has reached across space and across time. (Lepecki, 2006, p. 50)
Bel explains this idea of the body image as being more than its representation. Lepecki states,
The subjectivity and the body Bel proposes are clearly not nomads or self-mirroring singularities but packs, open collectives, continuous processes of unfolding multiplicities. (Lepecki, 2006, p. 50)
Bel refers to the body without organs theorized by Deleuzes and Guattari when he questions ways of representation and our concepts of presence, body and being here (Lepecki, 2006). Bel’s work proposes the following questions:
How can an exploration of choreography’s conditions of possibility reveal its participation in the production of subjectivity in the space of representation? (Lepecki, 2006, p. 46)
In my previous writing about making the choreographer’s ‘human side visible’ this was exactly what I was searching for, exemplified as I understand it by Klien who decribes choreography as,
A work practice that allows me to be human. (Klien, 2008, p.13)
The complexity of Bel’s idea of the subject and how by bringing the choreographer into the performance event she, as a subject and a rhizomatic body, after Deleuzes and Guattari, becomes present, her ‘visibility’ giving a glimpse of the
Continuous processes of unfolding multiplicities. (Lepecki, 2006, p. 50)
Throughout the performance process the ‘visible choreographer’ commentates on her thinking, refers to her reading and other influences of her decision-making, being of this rhizomic body of different ideas, people, concepts, places etc.
Whilst this revisits Lepecki’s questioning of singular choreographic authorship I am more interested in the complexity it allows by not only presenting the chosen ideas but also mapping out the rejected ones, the failed attempts, the dead ends, or as Siegmund calls it, the negotiating between both opponent poles of body/movement and law/choreography (Siegmund, 2012). People sometimes describe my work as presenting the making as part of the performance so that the audience can get a better understanding of choreographic processes. Reading Lepecki helps me understand that it is this and more in that it highlights the complexity of the subject and the interconnectivity of the subject. In reference to the rhizomatic body Gormley captures the idea succinctly when he recognises this as
A choreography that reveals the continuity between thoughts, our actions and the world around us. (Gormley in Klien, 2008, p.17)
Linking Bel’s idea of the social subject to Rubidge’s idea of the open work shows the interconnectivity of the subject not only within its rhizomic structure but it also shifts the viewpoint of the subject in relation to the other elements – choreographer, company and work. The fluidity of the open work and identity in flux of each element allows a different viewpoint of the rhizomic structure to come into focus throughout the performance process, allowing the audience to witness the complexity of these interconnected structures and the shifts within it.
Look out for future events of our research presentation! We’ve just received an invite to the upcoming conference at Leeds Metropolitan University (July 2014).
More information to come soon!
Bel, J. 1999. I am the (W)hole between two apartments. Ballet International/Tanz, Yearbook, p. 36-37
Klien, M. et al. 2008. Framemakers, choreography as an aesthetics of change. Limerick: Daghdha Dance Company Ltd
Lepecki, A. 2006. Exhausting dance, Performance and the politics of movement. New York: Routledge
Siegmund, G. 2012. Negotiating Choreography, Letter, and Law in Wiliam Forsythe. In: S. Manning and L. Ruprecht, eds. New German Dance Studies. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, pp. 200-216
Photos: Jo Denison, George Rodosthenous, Andy Wood