Response by Jodie McNeilly-Renaudie
6 November 2019
After a long week of holding space for rebels risking their civil liberties to fight for successive generations in the climate emergency, the meaning behind this fear, anger and contestation held sway in my experience of these three “Happy Hour” creations. Not in a way that erased their existence, but through a reciprocity of sense making that first shakes one up a little then crystallises connections into delightful focus. Once again art gave more than itself and its intention, and I walked away with an instance of life affirmed.
Each piece required a bespoke response for their different gifts of images, sensations and thoughts.
For Kristina, I wrote a poem to hold the breaths until the next bell calls.
For Zachary, a description to thread motilities of abstraction through place and the political.
And for Lizzie, thoughts for a language that criss crosses ficto-real borders when the dance inhabits all.
Kristina Chan’s Leaning Into the Liminal
Gradients of time peel, tip and strip away with centrifugal ease
Pin drop silences gape—Agape?
Breaths held, minds stilled;
thoughts caught in a snare.
We are here, now, there, peripheral
Sharing a lifeline
World flipped 90 degrees when it’s not a sphere.
Hanging from sharp edges with fingertip grip;
dangling into mouths suffocating silence so pure.
Holding on for dear life.
Chrysalis undulations, shimmy shuffle rings;
corpuscular cell deepening an evolution
only this dance, here, makes.
Internal hieroglyph write […]
Every life precious
Every disappearing wave meaningful
Every movement a chaotic collection
A single chime for every chime always
Tears of the Sinagang* by Zachary Lopez
*Sinigang: a Filipino soup
Enter the Tiger …
Once again in silence we flow to a new field of attention. Zachary kneels facing us, entering this moment with a solemnity that quickly grounds a common energetic connection. This gulf between the ‘I-know-you-not’ is gently massaged with enticing shapes by fingers and arms, our commitment to the now and possibilities ahead complicit.
Gestural motifs and short abstract sequences are repeated like a comb moving through hair: longer, smoother, to finally find their full-bodied meaning in suspended end points and a shift of level. There is a sense that some deeper transformation is at stake and we have been invited to the ritual. And so we are prevented from only seeing a strung together composition of moves competently executed, or the unfolding of one’s trained anatomical logic. My memory of specific movements and pathways is patchy, but the overall sensation with certain images endure.
Zachary’s presence is equitably distributed within the pores of a chiasmic skin that stretches through time to place, giving the impression of an archaeological unveiling, rather than a conjuring. We piggy back on this same journey, feeling it all, a combined will to see more. From biped to quadruped the transition is smooth, but the piece’s political implication sobering: will the sacrificial (s)he-goat save us?
I think of Greta Thunberg.
The addition of a soundtrack is curious, perhaps because we have all been aurally marinating in a ‘Cage-ian’ silence. Enjoyable beats and amplification of a cellular groove; we float and reach for the other within the vibrations. But it isn’t until the body pneumatically pounds out its own sound with gravitas that we are plunged into the/[a] proverbial “soup”.
Dusking Dumbshow by Lizzie Thompson
In shuffles Lizzie, a notebook in hand. Soft, pastel pink pyjamas. A dim light. Soothed by her dulcet, evenly paced, volume-balanced voice, we surrender to the whimsy tale of “Gentle Jim”. Our protagonist embarks on a journey no less poignant than that of Le Petit Prince whose other worldly travels exposes something more real about human nature than what Saint-Exupéry imagines.
Dusking Dumbshow is a dance that enters every moment and microbial space, dropping words that descend like snowflakes morphing into sharp, ficto-critical barbs one could miss if not paying attention.
In this dance of language, the body is never hijacked by movement, nor movement by the body. Dance is liberated from the body’s intended and spontaneous expression. It possesses a linguistic logic while the syntactical becomes choreographic. Both horizons proffer new possibilities and pathways for thinking movement and moving thinking. Are we in a choreographic turn? Sometimes we have to stop the body moving to find out. Not in order to deny dance’s ontology as movement, but to insist upon the potential of foregrounding movement for everything else.
Words and writing. But not just words and writing. Words and sounds that come to us direct from their “mother tongue”. The etymological nuance of the word “bucket” is carved up into its geo-cultural origins, found in the “momentary” … “breathy” … “suspension” of a narrativity caught in the “breath slopes”—as Lizzie would have it. A pleasure-filled phonetic foraging among existents that “we hold”. All those buckets with stuff in them ‘swelling like bellies’, or with slow leaks that drain away the illusion that language was/is created for us all.
And since it is not buckette but rather bucket,
We hold a masculine small bulging vessel
A masculine small belly
A masculine small swelling belly
Or even more specifically, we hold a French
Masculine Small English Bulging Vessel,
A French Masculine Small English Belly,
A French Masculine Small English Swelling Belly
But with this exposure we avoid the type of erasure that everyday talk, everyday bucket use encourages. Gentle Jim is a firm reminder.
Language—perched by the bedside—is a mediation between bodies and things. Movement as the traversing of words across continents that mess with their acquired predications, trying to “exist’ in the interstitial space “after the bu— and before the ck—". And we are left where the dance has been and will imagine to be, somewhere, nowhere, no longer inbetween. No middling, no coordinates, no representation through correlation, only as an as: the light that spills on the floor, the floor, the wood, its hardness, and the letters in nonsensical motion waving us off into twilight.
And dusk dideth fall lo lample sweep dip tro And lample shhhhh for brrroocksell niep niep shor
[My thanks goes to Lizzie for sharing her text Gentle Jim: Printed Breath Slopes. All quoted and italicised text is Lizzie’s.]
Jodie McNeilly-Renaudie is an independent choreographer, researcher and dance dramaturg working across the disciplines of dance and philosophy. Her performance work has been presented at Performance Space, Carriageworks, Seymour Centre, Riverside, Campbelltown Arts Centre, as well as residencies supported by Critical Path, Dirty Feet, and Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Jodie has lectured in choreography, theatre and performance at Monash, Macquarie and UNSW. She holds a doctorate in Performance Studies (Sydney Uni) and is completing a second doctorate in philosophy on the phenomenology of belief at ACU. Currently she writes film reviews for FilmExplorer (Switzerland) and is a philosophy lecturer in ethics for Clemente at ACU.