Thursday, January 31, 2008


These last few days, May Lyn, who has lived in Paris far too long, has been entertaining me with her vitriolic lashings of this country and its people.

In the meantime, I have been assiduously avoiding the steaming piles of dogshit on the ground and feeling somewhat smug about it.

Yesterday, however, Yannick pointed out that it had rained and there was now no avoiding it. Dogshit was now everywhere and definitely on our shoes, being tracked into the studio and absorbed through our permeable skins, into the core of our beings. Today I thought I smelled dogshit everywhere and all the time. On people's breath, in hallways, on plates...

Nous sommes, alors, tous dans la merde de la France.

Now, I had been going to end this blog on a cheerful note about wine and osteopaths, because I AM a positive thinker if nothing else. But a few hours earlier, I saw, for the first time, the programme of Les Antipodes and on the page that talks about me (meet Lee Su-Feh), there is a picture of a naked Ziyian Kwan.

Apparently, Asian women are interchangeable over here.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Last night, after worrying about May Lyn, I finally fell asleep at 3am and dreamt that I was flying through the air, not in a plane, but superman-like, across thousands of miles, across continents and oceans to fuck S. all night.

Today we did a little showing to a few people from the administration of the CNDC. So that Benoît and I could practice having a real conversation in front of people without knowing what we would be talking about, allowing for the subject to come to us in the moment. Essentially we were saying, "Here, look at me not know what the fuck I am doing".

This makes me think of Yukio Mishima committing hara-kiri or sepukku (I forget what the technical differences are) while hundreds or thousands of people are congregated outside; because how would you rehearse such a thing? I think his student, who was supposed to slit his throat or cut off his head after Mishima had disembowelled himself, botched it up and it was more messy than, um, it was meant to be.

As we know, he eventually succeeded in dying publically.
And we, Benoît, company and I, will eventually perform this piece for real.
As well, all this hystrionic superman behaviour will eventually have to stop.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The Centre National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers, where we are doing a 2-week residency for Body-Scan, is housed in the Theatre Le Quai, a brand spanking new building that costs more money than I can comprehend. Amazing facilities. Yet, if, during your break, you were to look out a window hoping to get a glimpse of the river and the cathedral, you would see, instead, a plastic sheet about 2 feet away from your nose. Because some architect has made an aesthetic decision that seems to deny the fact that human beings work in the building.

In this building, there is a fusion restaurant called Rouge Tendance (yes, I am serious). My first meal in Angers, therefore, was a plate of noodles cooked for me by a beautiful young African man, with vegetables that I picked out from a "Wok Bar". I ate this while sitting on rattan furniture, in a room decorated with orientalist chachkas such as Buddhas and Shivas. I say no more.

Today, after rehearsal, we thought we would, as a lark, go to Rouge Tendance and have a Singapore Sling. The restaurant was empty but we were told that it was full and could not stay for a 30-minute drink.

Sometimes you think progress has been made. But really, plus ça change....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

language, space and time

Last night, for the first time, the majority of my invited audience spoke and understood french. This both stimulated me and threw me off at the same time. The rhythm of people understanding what you say, and how their responses change the shape and viscuosity of the space around you was not something I had had a chance to work with while pretending empty chairs were french people.

I can't wait to do the solo in Brest, where hopefully there will be no empty chairs.

the whole beast

Pictures from last night's run by Amy Pelletier.

Friday, January 11, 2008

the beloved #4

"No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident; just as no Apollonian poet can perform his proper function unless he lives under a monarchy or a quasi-monarchy. A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the embodiment of the Muse...

But the real, perpetually obsessed Muse-poet distinguishes between the Goddess as manifest in the supreme power, glory, wisdom and love of woman, and the individual woman whom the Goddess may make her instrument...

The Goddess abides; and perhaps he will again have knowledge of her through his experience of another woman.."

- Robert Graves

Thursday, January 10, 2008

in authenticity

This week I have been running the solo in french and aware that I am communicating to no one because no one speaks french in the room. It makes no sense to look at the few human beings in the room and speak to them in a language they don't understand. So I look to empty chairs instead and pretend they are french people. Either way it makes for an entirely inauthentic experience.

My body now hurts like it hasn't hurt for a long time. I feel quite fucked actually. Proof that the body cannot lie.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Benoît and I have been grappling with how we can relinquish control without relinquishing authorship.

In Gabriel Josipovici's brilliant article in the TLS (Times Literary Supplement, November 30, 2007) on modernism (from which I found the extracts from Kirkegaard and Sartre), he writes:

Finding the conclusion means giving what has gone on before meaning. Giving something an end is not the same as giving it meaning, any more than life acquires meaning simply by coming to an end. The trouble with novels is that the only meaning they can have is conferred on them by their authors: but what authority do they have to confer meaning?

Is a dance work like a novel?
I think there is desire for dance works to act as novels: what is the meaning of this? people often ask, looking towards an external authority - the choreographer - to give them meaning to their dance experience. But all attempts to confer meaning on the dance take away the mystery that is the core of the dance experience, the life experience: the glimpse of the unknown, the unknowable. Should I catch even a glimpse of you, I would lose my wits. And if I should see you completely, I would lose myself.

Perhaps authorship means creating structures and places in which the participants - dancer and audience - have the opportunity to reflect and come to their own conclusions.

All we have to do as choreographers is to hold space.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

narratives #2

According to Soren Kirkegaard, "It is one thing that a life is over, and a different thing that a life is finished by reaching a conclusion".

According to Jean-Paul Sartre (I can't stand Sartre, why do I quote him all the time? Christ!) in Nausea:

I walk down the road, my life is open before me. I do not know what will happen, and, if my life so far is anything to go by, nothing of note will. Even if it does, if a car runs me over, for example, that will not have conferred meaning on my life, only brought it to an end. But when I open a novel and read in its first pages that the hero is walking down a deserted road, I know that this is the beginning of an adventure, of love, perhaps, or of espionage, it doesn't matter, it is an adventure. After all, I can feel the comforting thickness of the remainder of the novel between the thumb and index fingers of my right hand. And that is why I am reading the novel in the first place. Not, as banal view has it, to pass the time, but in fact to give myself the feeling that meaning exists in the world, even if I have not found it yet. That is the secret power of novels: they look like mere mirrors held up to the world, but what they are are machines that secrete spurious meaning into the world.

Monday, January 7, 2008

moving on

I am resolved to drink only new world wines in the next two weeks before I leave for France where the wines are fine but oh, so austere and humourless sometimes. Last night I drank the last of the 2006 Cline Zinfandel - so optimistic - before cracking open the 2005 Catena Malbec - so...dirty.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Sébastien said that I am enslaved to my own central vision. If this is true, I long for someone to free me from myself.


Looking for advice from teachers much wiser than me, I found these in my notes:

Shame often comes before desire and desire before sorrow.

If art is for worship is it for sale?
If an artist refuses to sell the choice is obscurity
“The only problem with failure is that not everyone
wishes you well, the only problem with success is the

We lie for a living – we learn to lie so well that people want to watch us lie for money.We train ourselves to know when we lie and when we do not.

Because of our nature (aspirations etc) we try and stop the wheel of transformation. As artists we need to learn transformation – no matter how much we love our anger: anger will transform into forgiveness, beauty will transform into horror.

Art imports immortality into a mortal life. Artists converse with immortality.

There is none but you
But alas no one can see you
the eyes are blind
even though the world be lighted by a brilliant sun
should I catch
even a glimpse of you
I would lose my wits
and if I should see you completely
I would lose myself

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

the new year

Having had glimpses of (yet unattainable) joy during two days in Paris, I went back to the studio today and danced with rage and deep sadness.