Before I sit down to observe the choreographers, dancers, scholars, and other observers, I slowly, somewhat timidly open the door as not to disturb those in the room. I feel like there should be a welcome mat. I self-consciously tip toe into the doorway and slip my shoes off as a sign of respect to both the space and the people — a very important ritual. I see the mirrors and the curves of other bodies in the ’empty’ room. I recognize this as a studio for dance or theatre making or practicing. This space and place is a home away from home for me yet I still have fleeting moments of feeling like an outsider. Perhaps it is because in the reflection of the mirror I see the Taipei skyline, mountains, unfamiliar faces, bubble tea, rice rolls, books or magazines written in characters I cannot read. Sometimes I feel comfortable and relaxed in the shared communal canvas filled with shades of different colours painting a new picture, telling a new story each day, each hour, each minute, each second…in such moments I feel inclined to lay down, slouch a little bit, look out the window if I want. In this relaxed familiarity I am able to soak in every encounter within the shared environment; an intersection of emptiness and possibility. The studio, this home, possibly provides some level of certainty and safety for each dancer, choreographer, and scholar (most of us have some history of using a studio).
Other times I feel like I need to behave as a guest in someone’s living room or kitchen. I feel the choreographers, the hosts, are inviting me to dinner or to come over for an afternoon tea. It’s as if I have the rare glimpse of individuals embarking on the most intimate of daily routine. It’s as if I am peering over the shoulder of someone concocting a feast using a secret recipe or I am in the room while someone dusts family pictures with an accumulating sense of nostalgia. Perhaps I feel like I am an intruder in a house, spying on a family.
I embody a tension between the familiar and non-familiar as I recognize my home sweet home in the studio and then, realize I am indeed 10000 miles from my first home- a place that always leaves very specific imprints. What do our various homes and senses of home grant us as observers and makers? What have my homes allowed me to embody and dis-embody? What is being recognized and what is being longed for?