Agata Siniarska: Hyperdances
Text from the lecture performance HYPERDANCES.
The performance was made in frame of LET'S DANCE exhibition in Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk.
Concept and performance: Agata Siniarska.
I will start by mentioning certain paradigms set up by a dance practice of Yvonne Rainer.
Yvonne Rainer in her idea about dance, making dance, dancing, primarily opposed the assumptions of modern dance, including modern dance techniques. That means:
1. Introducing mundane movements to dance.
2. Disposal of narrative and expressiveness.
3. Focusing on an event, where a viewer is not forgotten – a viewer is placed in time and their act of participation, their act of looking/watching is very crucial.
The requirements concerning the physicality, materiality, object and the perception are requirements, that Yvonne Rainer took advantage of to make dance an object. Rainer had desire to understand dance as dance, just dance and nothing else, dance being an object as well as dancing body being an object, a material object. The body, according to this idea is not built by Cartesian dichotomy of body and mind. Through emphasizing on its materiality, a body becomes reclaimed. It is not: the mind is a muscle ( title of one of her works ), but the mind is only a muscle and that is not any reductionism.
Now I am going to dance for you!
( Agata is dancing while being watched by the audience)
With this dance I am trying to realise Yvonne Rainer's ideas and become an object. A material object.
I am very conscious of your presence and I am not trying to ignore you but I am avoiding any eye contact because a face in my opinion is a big problem for dance. If I keep an eye contact with you, this relation is different, it is more about me and you, not about my dance.
( Agata is dancing and keeping an eye contact with one person from the audience )
I am trying to become a material object and so is my dance.
I am trying to use Rainer's ideas and become an object. Am I making it happen? I do not know but what I am sure of are the following aspects:
First – What Agata is dancing now? Agata is dancing all of her historical-gender-social-racial-class inscriptions.
Second – this dance might be not so interesting to you, still it keeps your attention. You are watching my dancing body, whenever I move. An experience of watching dance is determined by a habit of putting the human body in the spotlight.
Dancing body receives a lot of attention, not only from the audience but also from the artists that create new body methodologies, techniques, body movements, everywhere body, body, body!!! Human body!!! This dancing body – it can be fat, thin, female, male, inconsistent, social, political, contextualized, sick, charming – it is always in the spotlight. This spotlight determines the viewer's experience, your experience here and now.
Rainer has recognized these two aspects as inescapable restrictions. After more than 10 years of her artistic practice, she found the medium of dance incapable of performing tasks she wanted to include in her practice (dance as an object) exactly because of the issues mentioned above. The unique nature of my body and movement makes a personal statement, adding that dance is actually about me - Rainer put it clear that if dance is just about her and her feelings, it cannot fully communicate its experience to the audience. Rainer wanted pure movement and pure object which was an impossible task due to a personal experience of a body.
Thus Rainer stopped dancing and started to make movies.
(Agata stops in one position)
Me during this lecture I repeat the same gesture, or actually a part of this gesture, gesture of stopping. I wonder in fact if there is any other solution. What if I still persist over dance and try to organize Rainer's research within alternative parameters to create new, phantasmatic relationships.
A research problem, which i will try to solve in here, I would like to put in a question: Is dance possible but not based on human uniqueness? In other words: what to do to take the attention away from a dancing body in dance?
(Agata stops standing in one position)
To undertake attempts to answer this question, I would like to carry out three experiments, here, in front of your eyes:
Experiment number 1.
Rainer wanted to define the body as an object, something to watch. Lets agree on an idea that my body is an object. Thus, if this object can dance and I proved that during my introduction, why not invite another objects to dance with me, in order to obtain dancing-object-duet.
Therefore, I invite to this dance an object (Agata takes a handbag and puts it in the center of a stage). We have here one dancing human body and one dancing object. Where in this dance is placed your attention: are you looking at me or at my fellow object? Looking at the expression of your faces I conclude: you are looking at me. I am more important in this duet.
Arguments in favor of this thesis are the following: the object is not moving (at least it is not in motion accessible to the human eye) and the human body is moving thus it catches attention, it is more appealing to your gaze.
Experiment number 2.
The conclusion from the experiment before is as follows: the human body is catching your attention only because it is in motion. Let me resign from the movement that is visible to the human eye. I will stop moving in order to gain a similar quality as an object.
(Agata is lying on the floor with three chairs on top of her)
So there is a human body under the chairs, the chairs on top of the human body.
Methodological questions: Where is your gaze now? How long is it possible to look at the lying body of a dancer that does not give any hope for any significant change in the dramaturgy? 5 minutes? 4 minutes? 2 minutes? Maybe few seconds?
Complementary question: Where is dance?
Conclusion: Unfortunately, in spite of a good will, this desirable collective - me dancing and three objects dancing cannot be achieved by simply putting us together in one space. This is the task that I will try to solve in this lecture.
(Agata is standing up)
Let us move to the experiment number 3.
This experiment is is essential in order to present the main hypothesis - Yvonne Rainer, in her analysis of her dance Trio A, outlined the entire list of things, practices in dance, that should be eliminate, minimize or replace by the other. This whole list had one unchanging parameter that is: human dimension/human element. So experiment and hypothesis number 3 as an alteration of an old social contract: dance will be happening here, in front your eyes, my dear audience but it will happen without human companionship.
If a human dancing body is so problematic, I shall keep dance but resign from a human body.
(Agata is leaving the stage, disappearing, her voice stays in the space. Audience is looking at the park through the gallery window)
Looking at the situation here, what now?
You look at the space you pretty well know, you can recognize it, you can name it.
I insist that dance is happening here, in front of your eyes. What will you say about that?
And I am not thinking about the people you can see from the window. I am thinking about objects and thier material level.
I refer once again to the words of Yvonne Rainer: Dance is hard to see. It must be either less sophisticated or difficulty inherent in it needs to be enhanced to the extent that almost no one can see it.
This is this moment when the format of a lecture changes into participatory art, unfortunately. Here the hard work starts.
Let me start from the trees. Let's concentrate on one selected tree, beyond a banal movement of branches.
In a wood trunk the water and mineral salts are conducted from the roots and transported to the leaves. From down to up. The crucial elements of this dance are contractions, extensions, resistance, tensions that make the whole transportation possible to happen. It looks probably a bit like Martha Graham technique.
The main axis of the tree trunk not only carries the weight of the entire crown, but also withstands the pressure of the wind, rain, etc.
The larger and the thicker tree is, the rate of assimilation of carbon dioxide and weight gain is higher. This applies especially to trees growing in the company of other trees that make them compete for better access to light. Every single moment. Unfortunately, we are not able to experience this show, it so much spread in time and its culmination will become long after our decomposition.
Now, please have a look at the walls. ( description of the materiality of the walls – what they are made of and how this material being exposed to temperature changes “moves”).
From the point of view of quantum physics object it is not permanent and solid, but always a moveable event. Everything is in motion, everything, just in different degrees of severity of this movement.
Now look at the windows, not through the windows. Concentrate on the materiality of glass ( again, description of a materiality of glass and a movement that it does in the time frame of 650 years)
What if I assure you that we are a part of these movements! We are a part of these dances!!!
Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and start to concentrate on your breathing.
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.
And now take a deep breath in and hold your breath for a moment. With this inhale you just inserted in your body: lots of chemical substances ( named very precisely what are those ) bacteria, fungi as well as some viruses. Congratulations!
Keep breathing deeply. Concentrate on the deep exhale: you just release big amount on CO2 to this space. We are moving constantly in a space that is not empty, that does not need to be filled. It might sound banal but maybe it is time to valid knowledge that belongs to different register, that is not validate by institution but by our experience of living on this planet.
It is still puzzling for me, why Yvonne Rainer was insisting on the human dimension in her dance as the non-humans open up an infinite number of possibilities. This proposal is also very beneficial from the point of view of contemporary economy. Most of the grands for the creation of dance performances are extremely small, which leads to the situation of making again the same decision that the next work will be another solo work, and that will be presented on a small theatre stage. Working in collective human-inhuman overcomes this economic problem and gives the opportunity to work with the participation of the vast amount of dancers, in large formats, on big stages because there are even greater dances in the world.
Now you decide: you can open your eyes and try to look more or you can still keep your eyes closed knowing that these dancing waves, noise bends, repetitions, slant, interrupts, splits maybe should be experienced with different senses.
These dances are invisible to us because they do not fit in our scale, they are so gigantic. Their dance is so enormously great, because it is massively distributed in time and space. As a human dancer I cannot cross the spatio-temporal specificity needed to dance with global warming or radioactive plutonium nevertheless I feel a part of it.
This dance is sticky, it sticks to us. We can not see it and yet we rely on it, on its movement.
This dance is real though invisible to us. Maybe because it is timid.
This dance has no center, no edges, we do not know where it begins and where it ends. This dance is the perfect union of postmodern improvisation.
Here is happening deanthropocentric dance!!!
This experience here is not meant to be combined HUMANS AND NON-HUMANS into, but in order to replace an obvious division of roles into a whole range of uncertainty.
Returning to the point in time and space when Yvonne Rainer's stopped and after a short deliberation she decided to abandon dance. So is my thesis: Yes, one should give up dance, but dance of human agents. I insist on this solution, first of all, because Rainer, after many years returned to dance.
We should give up dancing body, especially expanded in the sad oceans of romantic suffering and obvious exposure in order to be able to reclaim it, but within new meanings and new configurations of thought, new practice.
Maybe these moments that we just spend with our invisible sisters will change our definition of dance? Will change our definition of dancing body, redefine the participation of the viewer? Redefine our gaze and makes new dance practices?
What are these new practices - to the question I'm not able to answer yet, but I still think that the human body should simply be vanished...
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Choreographic Turn was made with financial support of Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and with financial and logistical support of Nomad Dance Academy Slovenija.