Monday, February 25, 2008

transition rituals #2

And then there is scarification. The slow process of letting your wounds heal just to open them again. And again. And again.

In order to seal in an influence that matters.

transition rituals

A beautiful offering from Antonija:

From Richard Sennett's book on Authority,

"A mask is a way of sheltering someone from influence or seduction by authority. The logically opposite path of disengagement is to purge the influence. Purge rituals are familiar in anthropology: the exorcism which wards off evil spirits, the rite of passage in which the adolescent erases childish fears through an exploit or test. As Mary Douglas has pointed out in Purity and Danger, a purge is an act people perform because they fear that the danger is inside, that they have been seduced and have yielded. Pure coercive power would be a one-way influence: the purge is aimed at dealing with the fact that the person is responding. The attempt to disengage through purging oneself is a universal phenomenon; it appears in the most complicated circumstances as well as the simplest. Here is a complicated and notorious example.

In the wake of a trip André Gide made to England in the company of a seventeen-year old boy, Gide's wife, Madeleine, burned all his letters to her, something like two thousand letters covering his youth and middle age. "All the best of me I had entrusted to those letters," Gide wrote in his Journal Intime;

… they were not exactly love-letters; effusiveness disgusts me, and she would never have endured being praised… but in them the pattern of my life was woven before her eyes, little by little and day by day.

Three days after she told Gide that she had burned the record of his life, Madeline Gide also told him:

After you left, when I found myself all alone again in the big house that you were abandoning, without a single person on whom I could lean, no longer knowing what to do, what would become of me… I burned your letters in order to have something to do. Before I destroyed them I read them all over, one by one… They were the most precious thing I owned in the world.

The statement that she destroyed what was most precious to her captures the essence of a purge. Neither in anthropological nor psychological lore does it appear as a parallel to the physical purges of modern medicine. Not the relief of pain, but the infliction of sustained pain upon oneself is the act, in order that something destructive even if pleasurable to the human being may be expelled. In rites of passage in New Guinea, the test of valor an adolescent performs are to teach him that he will not survive if he continues to enjoy the soft pleasures he knew as a child. For Madeleine Gide, protecting and caring for André Gide had been a role and a source of maternal pleasure since her childhood; burning Gide's correspondence was an apt way of pushing this pleasure out of her life."

I wonder, then, if it is possible to transform, to transition, without resorting to masks and purgings.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I realised some time ago that until [storm], I had created work for my mentors, my judges. Then the teachers all started dying (and I got older and became myself a teacher) and I discovered the joy of creating work for the muse, the beloved. So much more fun and erotic. Also, so much more heartbreak.

ML suggested: muses inspire, mentors influence?


The other thing about muses is that they rarely deserve all the love you heap on them. But you love anyway. Because your life depends on it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


This morning I made the mistake of watching videos of Body-Scan runs and was filled with self-loathing. Even a session of ashtanga practice could not get rid of the bitterness and anger at not being able to dance.

I confided this to Benoît and he said, are you crazy??

As opening night approaches, it becomes harder and harder to ascertain what is real, what is not.

Friday, February 22, 2008

my heart

Yesterday I went to the local witch doctor-fasciotherapist, who, in keeping with what seems to me a french tradition, is so empathic as to be almost psychic. The left side of my neck, the repository of all my pain, had been feeling a little fragile. She worked in the area for a long time and said that the fascia of my heart was very tensed and held. Afterwards I felt as if my heart had been put back into my body. It made me wonder where it had been all this time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

french men and women

I have trouble remembering the gender of bottles and glasses. My logic tells me that a bottle, being phallic and from which liquids are poured out, should be masculine but it is in fact, une bouteille. A glass, accordingly, should be feminine because it is a receptacle into which the liquids of the bouteille are poured into. Yet, it is un verre.

OK, so maybe I have a one track mind.

Nevertheless, it is completely illogical that a vagina is masculine - un vagin. I discovered this after saying ma vagine in class or in rehearsal and got the most quizzical looks in return.

In any case, I am now dancing naked in front of strangers with my finger in my vagina. Scanning the curves of my cunt while riding the curves of space with my imperfect body

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bretagne, aah....

Today, after spending three hours in bed watching the sun come in through my window while listening to Le Peuple de L'herbe (Stephen Thompson says I have the musical tastes of a teenage boy), I went to the market with Éliane and bought flowers for my room.

Later, Éliane came over and we made Kig Ar Farz for dinner. While it was cooking, she drove us to Argenton (I think that's what it's called. I have a memory of exactly 2 seconds when it comes to names of places here) to look at the sea at sunset because Jesse who is leaving tomorrow, had not seen the ocean since he got here a week ago, ensconced as he was in a dark theatre with the rest of us while the sun shone magnificently outside.

We drove home through a bunch of way-too-charming villages to eat the Kig Ar Farz, which is essentially a pot-au-feu with a giant buckwheat dumpling cooked in a cheesecloth bag. Very exotic. Very delicious. I think I might have a heart attack tonight though.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I have many secret (I guess now, not so secret) titles for the piece. Such as,
"We are Men and Women from the New World, Can You Handle It?"
Also, secret slogans for the merchandising efforts:
"S(h)way the feng"
"Gong the qi"
"Scan the Body"

Today, the secret title is, "I disagree with you, George Skalkogiannis"

George, out of one of his little pieces of paper that he carried in his wallet, would say that a conversation wasn't a conversation if there wasn't a promise or an agreement (or in George's case, a contract) made at the end of it.

Today, it occurred to us that what we are proposing is that a conversation is just being together, with need for neither a subject nor a promise. Also, how do we speak with all whole beings, not just with our hard heads.

Difficult to do in real life. As usual. Art is so much easier than real life.

Friday, February 8, 2008


There is less dogshit in Brest.

We - the Quartz and I - have made peace over the fact that they got the wrong Asian woman. It wasn't difficult because there is goodwill all around.

Everyday, we all have lunch together. This is quite remarkable - as ML would say, a love-boat.

On Sunday I am going to cook chicken curry and nasi kunyit for a big kenduri to celebrate the year of the rat plus birthdays of Aquarians present and absent.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

language, space and time #2

Philippe Dupeyroux, who is French but has lived 15 years in Québéc (and yet has not tasted poutine because he says the idea of it is "indécent") says "tabarnac!" every 5 minutes, which is more often than I have heard from the 2 Québécois amongst us, Benoît and Yannick, put together. But now that he has been here two weeks, he is starting to sound french again, apparently.

When Benoît and Yannick get into a conversation I seem to no longer understand any french. This is dangerous because Benoît and I have numerous conversations in the piece in which we try to have an authentic conversation that comes out of the moment. Yesterday, he said something about ça prend la longue durée. I said, quoi? du riz? He started laughing. I said, ah, de rire!, knowing full well, that that was not at all what he said. But we were both having an hysterical fit and were connected, anyhow, in a conversation in which the words did not matter and there was no subject.

The other night I spent 3 hours on the phone with my amie ML. Almost as much as the joy of rediscovering each other was also the joy of falling into a language that I hadn't spoken for 4 years or more. The rhythms, the accents, the many languages that populate the conversation. I felt my body relax into a sense of home that was not of geography but of sound.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

blogging and dancing

May Lyn says reading my blog makes her feel dirty, brings out the voyeur in her. We had been talking about private spaces, public spaces, private faces, public faces.

It occurs to me that while this blog is about dancing, it also is like dancing. To dance is to constantly negotiate between the eros of the sacred dance with your god and the pornography of being watched. Except in dance, there is no blank screen to engage with; you have only your imperfect body, your imperfect desires.