Wednesday, November 25, 2009

clowns and terrorism

I was talking to Steven Hill the other day.
He said, the clown breaks rules and is always political.
I said, what is the difference between a clown and a terrorist?
He said, the clown wants your love.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

minimalism and maximalism

To extrapolate then, from the last entry on emptiness and fullness, I suppose that the function of minimalism (say, in dance) is to call up my imagination and my attention. And the function of maximalism - I borrow this term from Cornelius - is to blast me into nothingness.

Somewhere here is a lesson in how to construct a mandala.

So is everything in between a mere opiate?

As an artist, how do I know when I am imparting immortality - through heightened attention - into mortal life and when I am just a drug dealer, constructing beauty only to lull people into unconsciousness.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

emptiness and fullness

On the road trip from Regina to Vancouver, driving through miles and miles of prairie, I could not get enough of the sky, the uninterrupted horizon. My mind raced, caught constantly by shifts in the light, the slightest movement of a cloud, the variations of wildflower clusters by the road, the wind in the grasses.

As Junhong said, "I keep imagining I see mountains."

My imagination, my attention is called up by the emptiness around me.

A complete opposite to the day a month earlier, when I had sat on a rock at the bottom of a canyon - my mind emptied by the fullness of the landscape.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I took to drinking brandy and smoking pot and cigarettes to calm myself down from the anxious excitement of being in the outdoors.

I also cooked.

I discovered that cooking in the outdoors is an exercise in focus, balance and intense ergonomic planning. The simple act of retrieving an ingredient that is not within your reach requires a complex dance that calls for the unfolding of your hip flexors, balancing on rocks as you pick your way to the said ingredient, more folding and unfolding of hip flexors as you bend down to pick it up, more balancing on rocks to return, all the while being careful not to knock over the other ingredients and equipment also precariously balancing on other rocks.

The first night, I cooked pasta with bison sausages, bell peppers and fresh basil.
The second night, I made pasta with zucchini and the rest of the basil. This accompanied the trout that Jason had caught, which I stuffed with sage, rosemary and thyme packed from my garden, and which I then panfried.
The third night, giving in to a curiosity about dehydrated camping food, I reconstituted an unremarkable beef stroganoff-in-a-bag from MEC. To accompany this, however, I made a perfect pot of basmati rice - no mean feat over a camp stove that does not simmer, let me tell you.

emptied and filled

On a rock, in the middle of a river, at the bottom of a near-inaccessible canyon, I sat empty of all intellectual pretenses, and was filled instead by wonder and terror at the logic of nature.

Later, on my belly, with the rock beneath me, the sky above me, I was led to a hallucinatory union with the elements, fucked by sun, sky, trees, rock, man.

My body changes, branded inside and out.

the great outdoors

Almost a year ago, I said to Jason, "I am not very outdoorsy I'm afraid, but I will have a drink with you on a patio anytime."

Now, see what has happened:

Friday, June 12, 2009

transmission #2

Mika is Junhong's tap teacher. She is a small Japanese woman with a big voice. She inspires and terrorises the boys to dance like there's no tomorrow. She gives them choreography that wins them medals and makes them feel like the coolest boys in the lower mainland.

Yesterday was the rehearsal for the school's year-end show: an epic organisational wonder that involves more than a hundred kids and some adults, all run by Mika aided by a few assistants and a whistle.

While the boys were being made to run their piece to perfection on stage, amidst the noise and clamour of waiting parents and kids, Mika paused to turn around to the parents and noisy children and said:


I felt my own heart break and fell in love with her even more.


The last two mornings, I discovered the joy of feeling my heart break and heal simultaneously. I walk around now with the bits of blood and cardiac muscle tissue of another's embedded in my heart, bits of mine in his.

Monday, June 8, 2009


photo by Jason


Lately, in my classes, I have dared to use the word desire more often, proposing that we find movement by adjusting to our needs as well as our desires. This inevitably leads one to ask: what is my desire? For myself, I have been substituting the word dance for desire quite a lot this year, driving myself to an existentialist distraction in the process.

In Victoria recently, while discussing desire in class, Ken Gordon observed that sometimes, in order to move towards our desires, we need to feel that we deserve them. Substitute the word dance for desire once again, and you get a whammy of an epiphany.

Again, I am reminded that it is as difficult to receive as it is to give. Both actions require alignment.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

in-between #4

Anis wrote to me after my symposium: "You embody the classic mirages of feminist, pluralist-locutionist, affirmative Asian-Canadian artist but with the added advantage of being a multicultural self from before you set yourself up in Vancouver - mirages in the sense it is there but not there, being betwixt, hence constantly crossing the liminal and non-liminal. You are a global artist."

liminal |ˈlimənl|
adjective technical
1 of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
2 occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

I have spent my life living the liminal, finding my liquid self as I yield, flow around and occasionally smash up against other people's certitudes and fears.

Lately, I have been wanting my own country.
Ironically, I seem to find it in hotel rooms.

photo by Jason

theology according to Junhong and Max

Max was over for a sleepover with Junhong.
Coming as he does from a family less heathen than ours, Max took a moment before dinner to say grace, making the sign of the cross as he did so.
Junhong asked what it meant, the sign of the cross.
Max explained that each point corresponded to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
What about the Devil? asked Junhong.
Oh, said Max, that's the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Watching "I don't Want To Sleep Alone" by Tsai Ming Liang and "Flower In The Pocket" by Liew Seng Tat, I was struck by the patience inherent in each film.
I am trying to find that as a performer.
I discover, however, that there is a fine line between patience and insistence.
Or between patience and unconsciousness.

beauty, love and other pleasures

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


An offering from Oscarine, a response to the workshop I am currently teaching in Brest:
A poem from Ghérasim Luca, a dislocated Romanian Jew living in Paris, who spoke 4 languages, who wrote in French and who killed himself by jumping into the Seine after being thrown out of his apartment at the age of 80 "for hygiene reasons". A man after my own heart.

Quart d'heure de Culture Métaphysique

Allongée sur le vide
bien à plat sur la mort
idées tendues
la mort étendue au-dessus de la tête
la vie tenue de deux mains

Élever ensemble les idées
sans atteindre la verticale
et amener en même temps la vie
devant le vide bien tendu
Marquer un certain temps d'arrêt
et ramener idées et mort à leur position de départ
Ne pas détacher le vide du sol
garder idées et morts tendues

Angoisses écartées
la vie au-dessus de la tête

Flêchir le vide en avant
en faisant une torsion à gauche
pour amener les frissons vers la mort
Revenir à la position de départ
Conserver les angoisses tendues
et rapprocher le plus possible
la vie de la mort

Idées écartées
frissons légèrement en dehors
la vie derrière les idées

Élever les angoisses tendues
au-dessus de la tête
Marquer un léger temps d'arrêt
et ramener la vie à son point de départ
Ne pas baisser les frissons
et conserver le vide très en arrière

Mort écartée
vide en dedans
vie derrière les angoisses

Fléchir la mort vers la gauche
la redresser
et sans arrêt la fléchir vers la droite
Éviter de tourner les frissons
conserver les idées tendues
et la mort dehors

Couchée à plat sur la mort
la vie entre les idées

Détacher l'angoisse du sol en baissant la mort
en tirant les idées en arriére
pour soulever les frissons
Marquer un arrêt court
et revenir à la position de départ
Ne pas détacher la vie de l'angoisse
Garder le vide tendu

les angoisses jointes
vide tombant en souplesse
de chaque côté de la mort

Sautiller en légèreté sur les frissons
à la façon d'une balle qui rebondit
Laisser les angoisses souples
Ne pas se raidir
toutes les idées décontractées

Vide et mort penchés en avant
angoisses ramenées légèrement fléchies
devant les idées

Respirer profondément dans le vide
en rejetant vide et mort en arrière
En même temps
ouvrir la mort de chaque côté des idées
vie et angoisse en avant
Marquer un temps d'arrêt
aspirer par le vide

Expirer en inspirant
inspirer en expirant

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Benoît and I strive to have real conversations during the 12 minutes we are on stage while the public arrives.

Here are some excerpts:

Why do you make dances?
It's political

Is Body-Scan a manifesto?

Have you ever had an orgasm that made your heart break from loving, during which you feel so alive from the knowledge that you are dying every second of your life.


In Body-Scan, I walk naked towards the audience and stand there being seen, seeing and try to find a dance that comes out of these sensations.

In Brest, when we premiered the piece a year ago, I used to stick my fingers into my pussy, reprising a moment from earlier where I am riding the curves of my inside space as much as the curves of the outside space. In Montreal, when we remounted it, I took out that detail, feeling like it was a mask and a crutch behind which I was hiding.

This change threw me into an existentialist crisis about dance. It felt like I had made myself confront the ultimate question: what does it mean to dance, really, when stripped of our identity as defined by clothes and actions.

A wonderful crisis, really, to be in. A terrifying crisis.

But I bailed.
Just before I left for Paris, Jason gave me a gift - a brand over my right breast - to give me courage.
As I stood there naked, with my death mark made with love, I realised that that was a marker of identity too.
Then, yesterday we made adjustments in that section and now I have something to do in my nudity.

Maybe the fact is, dance is meaningless in and of itself. It is merely a transition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


There is an elf who comes in when we have all gone home. She takes our costumes, washes them, presses them and leaves them in neat little piles, or hanging handsomely from hangers, to greet us when we arrive the next day.

Rock n roll!


While Paris pulses outside I am perversely content to stay in my room, preparing to Body-Scan at the Centre Pompidou. I wake up late. I practise yoga in the narrow space between my bed and the desk. I cook myself lunch in the little kitchenette. Today's lunch is Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli served with Asparagus and sheep brie, all tossed in a light coating of pesto. I ate this with a small glass of Sancerre.

In a short while I shall go to the theatre. Hopefully today I shall not get lost in the labyrinthe that is the backstage of Centre Pompidou.

I have been forewarned (with a certain amount of glee) that a Paris opening is something to experience. I am to expect the huffing and puffing of bourgeois Theatre de la Ville season's ticket holders leaving the room. Possibly yelling expressions of outrage.

But I have been marquée au feu by love and death.
Bring it on.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I have been feeling remiss that I have not written anything for more 4 weeks. But joy, it seems, is wordless.

Nevertheless, I HAVE been thinking about food.

Recently, while in Montreal, teaching and rehearsing all day, I lived on meals of beets and quinoa.

You will need a bunch of beets with greens attached, garlic, olive oil, some quinoa, pine nuts and roquefort cheese (you could use other blue cheese but I am sensitive to cow cheeses and Roquefort is a sheep cheese).
Boil or steam the beets whole.
While they are boiling, clean and chop up the greens into a manageable size. You may throw these into the boiling water to blanch them when the beetroots are done.
Cut up the beets into chunks.
Toss in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Sauté the blanched beetgreens in olive oil and garlic.
Serve both root and greens with quinoa.
Top with pinenuts, toasted and the Roquefort, crumbled.

This meal screams out: dancer food!

But I like it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

loving and moving

In Martha's Twisted Project, she mentions her psychic osteopath, who says that maybe her spine has curled around her heart to protect it.

Today in rehearsal, we reminded ourselves that the spine and the heart are interconnected. In order for the heart to love fully and completely, the spine has to be free. Later, while sharing this with Ziyian, she added, and in order to move, we need to open our hearts.

But I knew this already, from making love with my beloved - our undulating spines unleashing the power of the heart. Our hearts pressed together to trigger the fluidity of the spine.

Friday, January 16, 2009

living on earth

How do we live with what we know?
How do we live with what we don't know?

..and each time, I awoke delighted with life on earth despite its desperately compromised nature.

- Returning To Earth, Jim Harrison

Sunday, January 4, 2009


It takes time to arrive.

This summer, in Malaysia, it wasn't until my fourth and last week there, when I was walking in KL (why can I no longer remember the name of streets), that I felt I had arrived, come home, my body adjusted to the heat, to the noise, to the different rhythms.

In Vancouver, it has taken me 20 years.

When I first arrived and for many years later, I used to wonder what people meant when they said Vancouver was a beautiful city. The great outdoors, the beauty of the wilderness surrounding this unlikely city, was wasted on me. I could not see them.

Now, 20 years later, I see the new world.

Outside of me,
inside of me,
holding me in his arms.