About a year ago, a rough draft of Julian Barnett’s “Sound Memory” at the La Mama Festival jumpstarted all sorts of memories for me, and now it’s back in full: at Danspace Project this Thursday through Sunday.
I love Eva’s interview style–her engagement and clarity, the way she follows up on questions, the way she nudges her subjects along without ever betraying one iota of impatience. Julian Barnett, on the other hand, reminds me of the gulf that exists between the way certain choreographers (usually in a postmodern vein and usually under 40) talk and the way they dance and choreograph.
When talking, the most fierce and engaging of movers can be overtaken by a wayward vagueness, a tendency toward the most banal of abstractions. I’m guessing they’re trying to get their minds around something they know best from moving or watching others move, and English isn’t helping them. It’s as if they understood language as a repository for all that doesn’t have a place in the world, as if they’d never encountered an active verb, a concrete noun, a verb in the imperative or vocative mood.
It drives me crazy.
But I’m guessing “Sound Memory” in full will be a real trip, as people used to say. The last time, anyway, it took me far and near.
Postscript Monday March 16, evening (we had an email back-and-forth that yielded some insights…):
Eva writes: Thank you! Doing the “Body and Soul” podcast interviews has taught me that dance folks might just be in the early stages of learning how to verbalize their concepts and visions for a listening audience of peers, fans and newbies. They’re also just learning that this is a resource that they can use to their advantage. (How many forget to put links to their interviews on their Web sites or press materials?) So, I’m patient and working on faith that our comfortable interactions will not only be fruitful in the moment but also train dance artists in what’s possible and useful. Aside from that, I love hearing whatever they have to say. Some interviews are smoother than others but all put me closer to the artistry that I love and respect. Thanks for featuring this talk with Julian Barnett. I enjoyed and was very moved and inspired by your commentary on an earlier version of his new work–as I told him–and I look forward to his Danspace Project program.
All the best,
Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Body and Soul podcast
Apollinaire: I hear you, Eva, but I don’t understand the degree of fuzziness that so many dance artists seem to require of themselves. That’s the weird part: they seem to be working toward vagueness.
Eva: Specificity is not on the menu for many because they are, almost to a person, reluctant to direct the audience or provide answers in their work, let alone in a preview interview about it. I kinda understand that. At the same time, it makes my project a bit more challenging. I’m hoping most listeners will hear within and around what’s actually said.
Apollinaire: I think you’ve hit on it, Eva! They don’t want to prescribe our response. But they don’t realize how powerful both we and they are: that we’re not Pods, we’re not preprogrammable, and the dance isn’t something we read like a book, anyway; we move with it as we like, whatever anyone has said beforehand.
Eva: Yes, it’s such a powerful artform. Think of it: the basic medium is the body, the same body that the dancer lives in and walks around in and feeds every day. If non-dancers really stopped to think about that, really think about it, it might electrify them. I would think it might transform them and the way they live in their own skin. It’s really the spookiest art in that way. The daily and quite difficult honing of the body to deliver the energies and information of art: It’s a mission, it’s a shamanic commitment.