The Body Is Dead Long Live The Body

10 Mar

It is hard to believe but there are things so bad, so disgusting and nasty that not even Hollywood touches it. Oh man, and I don’t just mean Hollywood authorized no this is so bad the entire ministry of porn amateur and professional Hollywood bu-si-ness refuse, negate and denies any what so ever involvement. Aha, stuff that’s so beyond your wildest phantasy that its banned from X-hamster, X-squirrel and even X-German Goddamn Sheppard [that www is sp-he-sial, Omaha and phiuu]. You just don’t go there, über no no, double niente and three times for get about it. Not even you know Tarantino’s Mexican brother goes there, not even Woody Allen [spit on him] – exactly not even somebody called Pedro enters the territory.

In comparison firefighter movies are like a romantic comedy about old people’s right to fall in love, OMG. Shit, not to mention “I’m a performer…” flicks, they are – in comparison – more like one of those well-made films where the mother fires up an affair with the daughters boyfriend, featuring Gerard Butler. No, what I’m thinking about could best be compared with something written, directed and starring Miranda Julie, or for the younger reader perhaps better Lena Dunham, but not even those come even a little bit close to this.

Some ten years ago dance and performance were busy quoting cinema – as long as you ripped Godard the show was terrific especially if it was produced in Brussels. References to the big screen were cool factor and a prominent enough reason to stumble around on stage executing pedestrian movement instead of organizing some proper dance. Today, dance so don’t look to Hollywood or whatever indie – fuck no, today it’s cinema who doesn’t even dare to glance in the general direction of d a n c e.

We all know that the production of another one never makes a home run. Nope, another one, even it it’s really amazing is still more of the same. Sorry, the real thing is to change not what is in e.g. the image, what matters is to change the circumstances for what an image can be. Sloppily spoken, change that kicks ass always occurs on a sort of ontological level never on some simply epistemological ditto. Change the circumstances for and you’ll be number one. Essactly, who did it did it: Cage, Le Corbusier, Gerhard Richter, Pessoa, Duchamp, Beckett.

There were many reasons for the raise of conceptually oriented dance in the early 90s, but the most important and long lasting I believe is an attempt to rid dance of a certain body, a body that appears more or less non contested, except by Judson, since yes indeed the French goddamn revolution. But instead of trying to change the body and it’s dancing – technically advanced, emotional, intuitive, true whatever horrid ideas we had in the 80s – conceptually oriented choreographers figured it out, let’s not try to change the body let’s instead change the ways we organize it on stage, exactly let’s change the circumstances of – instead of what’s in the image. It is through changing the structural level of production that radical and enduring change takes place, not whatever can be expressed. Yep, and sure thang structural change comes with a price, collateral damage, indeed what had to go was dance as we knew it – and that aha the very idea.

Since 94 a certain and powerful canon in European choreography has been busy with repressing the dancing body choreographed through mimetic learning and the choreographer passing phrases or whatever to the dancer, and have instead used more or less any other mode of production to organize bodies in time and space. Translation – Jerome Bel, scientific method – Xavier Le Roy, game structures – more Xavier Le Roy, quotation – Tino Sehgal, appropriation and doubling – Mette Ingvartsen, state – Meg Stuart, mass – Christine De Smedt, reconstruction – no comment, scores, procedure (sampling, looping, scratching etc.), sign/icon, mimetic replication, displacement and so many more. The weirdest thing, and how often didn’t we forget, that all these approaches and modes of production were smokes screens, forms of self-delusions utilized to make sure we couldn’t fall back into the vehemence of an 80s body. OMG, it’s like we had that ring around our necks and it would feel so good to put it on inviting the dark evil forces. The 80s body is/was a dementor, soulless and evil. What conceptually oriented choreography needed to fight was the nine Nazgûl. Think about that, and there were certainly no Gandalf around to help, if Mr G in fact isn’t Frau Gareis in disguise. Many of the travelers gave up, surrendered to the Nazgûl’s of Essen or the über Dementor in Hebbel, sought refuge and were betrayed in Frankfurt, Vienna, Hamburg. London, Scandinavia not to mention the US aha, as we all know all fought for the dark side and with loyalty.

But perhaps now when The Hobbit is out maybe choreography and dance can once and for all leave that disgusting zombie body behind and enter a new era. Listen to this, listen carefully, I say this only once. We are free, we are healed, the partial object [the 80s body] has left the building and we can start choreographing again. We don’t need to be afraid, the exorcism is done, the beast has been taken out, it’s dead, buried and forgotten. So forgotten it can’t even resurrect as a ghost. No fuckin’ way! Viva choreography.

But shit we were wrong, we were so wrong, there is one monster left and this creature is goddamn Royal. Yes, it’s the one Hollywood doesn’t even dare glance at sideways. You, might have guessed, it’s the leftover after all other conceptually oriented protocols have been exhausted. Oh yes, practice based choreography. I can write it but I avoid saying it, and every time I’m forced to utter the words I floss – I do, I promise. Practice based choreography – it oozes of dark putrefaction, its stench so foul that “The Walking Dead” smells like a florist.

Yes, the first reason why you engage in practice based choreography is because you have no idea of how to make anything, never mind choreography or composed dance. Instead, you engage you performers to everyday repeat a practice, a loosely brought together organization of time and space that when executed enough many times can’t do much else than coagulate into some sort of dance. The second reason for your disgusting behavior, is that you’re such a coward that you don’t dare to take a stance and produce decision, instead you hide behind the practice that makes decisions for you. Practice based choreography is absolutely and utterly conflict free, especially concerning conventional hierarchies. If somebody has a problem it cannot be with you – except if you pay people shit or whatever – but artistically your ass is safe, blame the protocol. After all, it is through practice that we produce not through critical or turbulent discussions. If a performer has a problem, you can just advice him or her to engage more thoroughly in the practice. Excellent.

Next reason is that you consider it important to question hierarchies of decision-making and therefore want to decentralize them. But you know what, to decentralize in this manner means nothing else than to make the individual responsible for every decision and responsible in a way that homogenizes decision rather than expands what is possible, because every decision jeopardizes the social-communal and with that identity and belonging. Therefore every individual decision will by necessity consolidate the community and the practice formation.

More over if the show ends up being shit, the you – the choreographer – can always blame the protocol, even better you can also apply for a research grand, you greedy shit – practice is not production.

Conceptual choreography at least stood up for itself, it stated itself. Practice crap is genius cuz it’s endlessly slippery and can mean everything all the time.

It might be that practice based choreography at some point were politically relevant for the emancipation of the individual, but today practice based is rather then the production of communality a replication of neo-liberal governance. What it produces is a weak, minimal, structurally responsible non-interventionist state [the practice] in relation to which the individual must make him or herself valuable. What the choreographer provides is a form of authorship that forces the individual performer to realize him or her self as him or her self and at the same time always only do this in respect of the practice. The practice however is not a strict and unbendable protocol, i.e. an ideological stronghold, but exactly a weak post-ideological state the gives no other instruction than: make sure you are affordable and investment friendly. Practice based choreography is not a means to share decision and formulate a communality, on the contrary is a maximization of individuality vis á vis an openness of form. It is half a musketeer, you know, one for one and all only as long as it is financially viable, actually or symbolically.

In fact one could say, and that’s why Hollywood shivers of fear, that practice based choreography mimes the dark side of contemporary democracy. It indeed promises a democratic social sphere, but rather than being a democracy that by necessity picks up voices, this is a democracy so endlessly negotiated and surveilled that nothing can transform. Instead it perpetuates its own control mechanism endlessly without anybody being the captain. Practice based choreography is a democracy that kills any kind of differentiation that is not already financialized. Our biggest enemy today is not is Satan, Empire, terrorism, Hollywood, internet porn or choreographic structures, no our biggest enemy is democracy. Our biggest enemy because its players are so deeply and complexly connected that nobody can make a move. Democracy has turned into dynamique d’enfer. Openness is no longer a solution, practice based choreography is so not a solution, what is is firm and consistent decision making, new forms of hierarchy that can be contested and fought.

Practice based choreography function in the same way as Facebook. Facebook is a practice, an open platform in relation to which the individual can realize him or herself, can enhance his or her subjectivity and become a more authentic person. Facebook makes money on some half a billion people busy realizing themselves as themselves, without offering close to no content what so ever. We are volunteers for Facebook, every time we log on they make money. Practice based choreography is the opportunity for the performer to realize him or herself as him or herself.

The worst kind of practice based choreography are those that has been systematized or simply multiplied. Deborah Hay’s business idea with her choreographic scores to be practiced by the individual for far to long is not a nice friendly gesture by an elderly lady. No, it’s venture capitalism at the end of times. What Hay charges bunches of individuals for is nothing else than Facebook, she offers those poor souls – that seems to consider themselves in need of support – a score consisting largely of tacky oxymoron, kitschy paradoxes, enigmas for them to practice on a daily bases. The old lady offers simply the opportunity for the individual to invest his or her own creativity, imagination, energy and time to realize him or herself as him or herself. In other words, authorized by Hay you consume yourself as subjectivity in order to enhance your experience of yourself. You consume yourself in order to become a more authentic version of yourself. Men and women, proud and stand up dancers and choreographer for the future of our art forms dignity, let’s get together and make one decision, to abandon Hay – she can do it alone that wont harm to much – once and for all and with that practice based choreography forever.

If firefighter choreography is all about the heroism, about the man fighting the element, ego-romanticism, practice based choreography is about particularity, about the individual as individual – romanticism for the individual entrepreneur. Firefighter dance in a way is a like a pathetic version of Greek drama – the hero that sticks out his eyes of whatever in the end – perhaps practice is worse, doesn’t it remind us about a kind of well produced corporate documentary about rescue workers working feverishly to tidy up after some terrible natural catastrophe. Documentaries where the ordinary guy, all of them are elevated into some higher form of – not existence – but self-realization. Shoot, I like rescue workers but save me from introducing them into aesthetics experiences.

Fuck practice, let’s get our hands dirty – let’s celebrate conceptually oriented choreography. The body is dead long live the body, let’s choreograph.


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