**** Hotel

The third iteration of ***** Hotel will be appearing in a couple weeks, at the GOlive Festival in London.

Sadly only four of the stars will be able to make it.  Down 20% from the inaugural performance, but up 33% from the second performance.

I am interested to see how this latest constellation will perform.  Again with a live musician, this time a percussionist.  The first iteration had a musician who, if my memory serves me, was a bassist who used a kettle drum, a piano and a variety of small hand held instruments.  The musician for the second performance is a cellist, Barnaby Tree.  What intrigues me is the concept of melding rehearsal with performance.  As the members of 5***** Hotel live in four different cities, they are not able to rehearse in the traditional sense.  This geographic variation forces the group to rehearse in front of an audience.

When I performed with Nancy S. Smith, in 2008 I think it was, at SFDI, she told me of a rehearsal process with a group of experienced performers.  They had agreed upon a score, which during the performance they all abandoned.  Granted a score can be abandoned and everything is fine, but then there’s abandoned.  Some performers ended up in the audience, some were singing.  This is not to say that the performance was “good” or not, but I am relating this anecdote to illustrate the fact that when the lights go up and there’s an audience, plans and people change.

With the group ***** Hotel, because there is no rehearsal, there is no possibility of deviation.  Personalities and plans can’t change from the studio time to the stage time.  For me, if we are to use the three stages of creation to define an improvisation, this method of performance making is even closer to an improvised performance.

The moments of execution during the GOlive festival will be very close temporally to the moments of experimentation.  The exploration stage has already been completed as the personnel, the location, the time of the performance, the costumes, etc., and the concept (open spontaneously composed performance) have already been determined.  Looking more closely into the stage of execution, i.e., the performance, what will happen in front of the audience has yet to be determined.  So within the execution stage, the three stages of creation as they relate to the performance, will be constantly evolving and informing each other.

To see how that exactly unfolds come to the Lion and Unicorn Theatre on the 26th and the 27th of this month

Compare and Contrast


granted, it could be said that we are looking at apples and oranges as one performance has audience on three sides, live music, and video.  But I would say that these two performances are more alike than they are different.  I am most interested in the spacing, placing, and pacing of the kinespheres and how they differ in the two pieces.

I hope you die soon

Well…how to begin?
During the last performance I saw at HAU 1, Les Petites Morts – i hope you die soon, I was inspired to write glib and non-glib responses to what I was seeing.  After writing them up and other thoughts about the work, I re-read it and read it to my wife.  She asked my why I wanted to write what I did.  I could have spent the time writing a grant.  
After going through the personal cathartic reasons, I articulated that I wrote it to practice articulating my responses articulately to other artists’ work. Apart from personal articulation practice, I believe that more dance/movement/performance artists should be publicly articulating their responses to each other’s work.  Maybe many are and I just don’t know the URLs.
When I still lived in the Bay Area in California, I was speaking with a friend about a mutual aquaintance and the difficulty she was having writing reviews.  My friend thought that because she, the mutual aquaintance, was also a dancer that she shouldn’t be writing reviews.  Why not?  Should opinions about work be reserved only for impartial non dancers?  Why shouldn’t we all be talking about the work?  I think this deference to outside opinions is dangerous.  I am not saying that non-makers should not have opinions about dance and performance, but they shouldn’t have the last word.
So, back to Les Petites Morts – i hope you die soon.   What did I think of it?  The performers, Angela  Schubot and Jared Gardinger, were very invested and engaged in their piece.  I really enjoyed the beginning.  It was a nice take on the typical contemporary dance beginning.  Instead of standing there and letting us see them and see that they are seeing us, they were laying down.  The small subtle movements, seemingly random, that resolved into symetrical and held (pre-determined?) shapes.  It allowed for the first step of blurrig the corporeal boundaries – moments of wondering whose limb was whose.  Hardly a new device, but enjoyable, nonetheless. 
The breathing that kicked in about 20 minutes into the piece at first made me very conscious of my own breath, but quickly became comical.  They sustained the breathing for too long and coupled with the exaggerated looks on their face, reminded me of zombies in a B movie.  Yes, I understood the representation of blurring boundaries between bodies and dissolving the self with the breathing – what I exhale you inhale and vice versa.  But they didn’t offer me any other opinion or extend the metaphor in a new way.  I can think of other more interesting ways of de-bordering bodies – 
fecal transplants, organ transplants, blood donations or attempting to become Siamese twins?
My reaction to this piece could also be my aversion to the topic itself.  Death and dying are much too grand, ubiquitos, (dare I say old-fashioned or classical?!?), and serious to deal with seriously.  I prefer Woody Allen’s movie Love and Death for these topics.  This might be kind of morbid but I could not get invested in a piece about death and dying knowing that there was no chance of an actual death.  This is also related to my issue with theater as opposed to dance.
It’s all pretend.

Theater vs. Gallery or What vs. Where

If a dance piece is different in a theater than in a gallery, white box vs. black box, how would it change in a movie theater?
in an elementary school theater?
a high school theater?
a college theater?
the art gallery next to the black box theater at the college?
at a theater at a university, a university without a dance major?
in the theater of a university?
in the theater of a PAC 10 university?
in the foyer of that theater?
in the bathroom off the foyer of the theater of the PAC 10 university that doesn’t have a dance major?
in a bus stop near that university?
the bathroom at that bus stop?
the bus that just left the bus stop?
the bathroom on that bus?
the Wendy’s that bus stops at 3 hours later?
in the parking lot of the gas station?
next to pump number 3?
next to pump number 7 that Henry in a red and green plaid shirt is using to fill his Toyota Tundra’s tank?

OK, forget all that.  Let’s go back to a traditional performance space.

A sprung bamboo floor on a 15×10 meter rectangle of concrete with radiant heating.  The concrete is 20 cm thick.  Surrounding the dance floor is gravel.  This floor is in a room that has 5 other such floors and each one is surrounded similarly by gravel.  This room has windows on the north and south sides and has an arched roof. The walls are white; the gravel grey; the ceiling silver.  The east and west sides have brown sliding door 4 meters long and 2 meters tall.  Each door has a cement landing and benches.

Maybe this isn’t a traditional performance space, but my dream studio.

OK, back to this piece…hmm…how about this – We, in the performance world, shall never make a new piece ever again, but agree upon 1 piece that we will all repeat in different contexts.  Never again will we have to worry about what we will do.  The only question is where we will do it.

There are an infinite number of contexts (as there are pieces).
I’d rather make the pieces than the contexts.


Do chefs use dramaturgs?
Do sculptors dramaturgs?
Do conductors use dramaturgs?
Do pastry chefs use dramaturgs?
Do painters use dramaturgs?
Do fashion designers use dramaturgs?
Do baristas use dramaturgs?
Do composers use dramaturgs?
Do oenologists use dramaturgs?
Do perfumers use dramaturgs?
Do bartenders use dramaturgs?

Did Miles Davis use dramaturgs?
Did Michelangelo use dramaturgs?
Did Agnes Miller use dramaturgs?
Did Beethoven use dramaturgs?