yunlu and couples

October 21, 2009
yunlu and couples

What ever I hear or ask is filtered through different people. Even when they say that “primary source material” (like face to face encounter) is what a researcher wants to get, that this is the raw material of research, but really “in translation” means a kind of change has happened to the source material: it is already transformed. Thus research is creative and dynamic, not the ”truth.” Alive.

I keep wondering when Tiechun will name his “work.” The walk with the male dancer lifting the feet of the female as she glides forward, down stage in the hip swing, body twisting away from the center/ Emily, a walk from a Chinese minority

I would like to talk to each dancer about their ideas about this project from the beginning until now in its 4th phase. What does the theme of the world “shaking” mean to them now? How has this changed?
I would like to have an open discussion about the theme with the dancers, researchers. And guest choreographers. I will also ask the choreographers about any preparation they did and how they may be adapting their normal methods to this particular task. I need to see earlier works by the choreographers to see what their work has been like at least in the last few years.

Today I will make lists. Some very famous authors (Sei Shônagon) made themselves famous for their lists.

Tiechun’s room and ”making strange”
Perhaps surreal is not the word but absurd, like Beckett’s characters, we seem to be a strange family caught in its own tiny world. Is this ” shaking” like those little globe worlds used for souvenirs where you shake and ”snowflakes” flurry about this miniature fake world?
Two dancers work two wait
Tiechun wants the yunlu: the patterns in the movement, the rhythmic patterns, the deep structures, the rhythmic structures.
In this walk by Guo Jiao from the folk dance, what began as a distinctive walk almost parade-like appearance has become a walk with Yuan Jia lifting her feet one by one in her rhythm? He must be crouched on the ground to do this. Now she is literally walking on air in the hands of all the dancers, she walks upright across the stage with the hands of the dancers holding her up, until she falls backwards into Wu Shai’s arms.

Tiechun works on the two “children” Wu Shuai and Huang Dong Mei in their rocking and now whirling dervish dance. They must: stare forward with out blinking. They must get faster and faster, they practice many many times. They spin out they fall they laugh they spin they work with their heads to one side arms over head, spinning: bend straight bend straight bend straight, Tiechun calls and claps and makes them spin over and over and over again. But it works. The voice of the soloist in the Mozart Mass in C Minor begins her most sweet sad song with Guo Jiao’s raised walk downstage, and the doll-like rocking figures in the background. Figures in a landscape. Many phrases of the mother and father figure repeat but with slight variations, her fall and jump into his arms, crouching on his knee, again and fall, again and fall forward, again. This is a precarious world.

Jonathan and Carolyn’s room
Have they talked over the theme with the dancers? With themselves? Can we talk or maybe not. I am not sure silence works. I am not sure dancers only want to dance and not talk about their work. I do not think that brilliance disappears if you share ideas about your work.

I sit on the bench across the front mirrors so the 6 men are always looking directly at us to adjust their movements, posture, look etc. I feel invisible and like I am an obstruction.
Has the world disappeared outside of Beijing?
Jonathan puts the 6 into 3 couples to play the male and female roles in a play from the early 20th century by another Chinese playwright. It is a fractured love scene, with only tension and small talk between the characters. I love the small movements that come from an emotion that is lost but leaves traces. I will get an English copy of the play and scene. It seems to be about two people who no longer hear or know each other. Instructions from Jonathan: in contrast to other exercises and tasks think of the physical language as an emotional or ”charged” language. In his critiques: when you do not use the words while moving (to one couple who does not) it is a cop out, using the words gives the movements a different power, without the words, it becomes just a dance. They are asked to lean into the words, push response, and sometimes to wait, hold back, let the movement moment arrive. Wonderful moments where their bodies seem to have different meanings: from I am tired, leave me alone, hands to face, pushing legs between legs, rolling over and off each other. No one is violent with their actions, but something is masked. One dancer clasps his partner around the neck, and Jonathan asks for that moment to be more front, more twisted. The dancers laugh. Is it laughter away from the strangle hold?
One dancer traces the entire body outline of his partner: is this map of the person? Is this the boundaries that he must stay within? Is this the shape of a dead body on the pavement anywhere in a shaking world.

I am reminded of Pina Bausch’s different shoulder stands and parades making humans strange and strange humans.

2 comments to yunlu and couples

  • Min

    “Have they talked over the theme with the dancers? With themselves? ”

    You make me to think about the relationship between choreographers and dancers in the process of making dance, do choreographers want to know how dancers understand their instructions or real meaning what they ask them to do? They looks like two parallel lines without intersecting, untill the end, dancers realise that there already have a line to link them up, their thinking are redundant.

  • Katherine Mezur

    Min this is beautiful, those parallel lines: I am not sure the choreographers have had a discussion with the dancers responding in conversation. Tiechun did talk about his ideas the first day. I asked the dancers, very interesting positive responses. But Jonathan does not do any kind of discussion or gathering to consider how the work is working for them. A bit top down, but his work is from their bodies so maybe there is a dialogue here and we have to tune in differently, with different senses. How does “shaking” translate into mandarin does this verb have the same sense and meaning as it does for Westerners?

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