Mojca Sovdat: Your poetic body is bigger than you

I feel, you know
A little place
Where we can go
And dance so well
You dance so well
You dance so well
(The Blaze: Places) [i]

Cause every place I go I take another place with me (Bon Iver: Wisconsin) [ii]

How I watch dance, how I look at dance is both rational and irrational experience. It is about what it brings me on rational, physical, emotional level; what I'm looking at, what I'm hearing, feeling. It’s about how and how much I am moved by it, which questions does it brings, where does it lead my thoughts even when the performance is over, how do I connect with it, how it stops me in time while I'm watching, how I get lost in all of it and how I find myself back or better forth because I believe that on some micro level I'm different than I was before.

Once I've read or heard that art is like waves which are coming, going, returning with different force and directions. For example, from a performer to me as an audience; then from me through my body, thoughts and experiences, to other people with whom I share this experience indirectly… and so it goes.

Something that goes through me. . .
I'm trying to encapture this experience, feelings, put it in words, describe it so it at least in some way stays/exists also in words. I believe that fractals of experience of dance performance stay also as a memory in my body which from time to time reappears in my life, in my own similar, further processes of creation, thinking, ideas of qualities, directions where to go.

“Your poetic body is bigger than you” echoes in my head. This sentence was once said by Alenka Marinič and Justin Durel at their physical theatre workshop. This idea accompanies me when I think about presence on the stage, moreover, when I think of power of art in general. It contains so much more than what we think we carry. It seems intangible and yet is so visible or more experiential. I understand it as energy, power, relation to the space, to the group, to the audience, the whole world that you create by the time of performance (directly) and after performance (indirectly), it is about time and timelessness, about the awareness and respect of responsibility that you as an artist place into the audience, it is about creating (simple) magic in the way you stand, the way you dance, the way you connect.

How I dance a dance? It seems so simple question with simple answer but still it’s not. Probably this are questions you don’t ask yourself often, at least I don’t remember I did. And to write about it… huh

I dance a dance in different ways. In different states of body and mind, in different periods of life, with different people or without people. But still some things or the nature of it stay the same. Probably the way I move, quality of it, body parts which I (consciously or unconsciously) move more often than the other, rhythm that guides me. Preferably I dance spontaneously, with people, through playing, discovering, improvising, sharing, touching, trusting, falling but also learning dance as choreography, different dancing techniques that widen/provoke/push my body knowledge.
Dance as expression of passion, like presence with which you takeover and inhabit the space (stage), like poetic body which speaks without speaking, like mass that moves and affects, like huge organism when you don't recognize anymore which body is yours, from where to where are you (e.g. contact improvisation), like an endless hug, community (e.g. my high school experience), like when you imitate/follow impulsive movement of a child, when you mirror each other while dancing.
Or when you dance repetitive moves which calms you down, ground you and at the same time unground you, when you are high on drugs, which swings you in different lightness. When you feel all the people who are raving on the same level and you all dance in the same direction, in similar reality, with similar quality. Perhaps a bit religious experience.
If I paraphrase Murakami’s words in Kafka on the shore (2007) [iii]. Constant repetition slowly crushes reality and composes it in its own way.
I can connect this sentence with a feeling of repetitive movements which can take you in some kind of trance. Sometimes when I dance in a certain repetitive way and the moves are similar of ones when I’m on a party, this moves can push me in similar sensation and I can somehow create my own reality.

I understand dance also as a metaphor of movement in general, so to move, overcoming boundaries and not stagnating. Stagnation, seems scary to me. When you don’t even recognize anymore that you’re standing on one place and then when you move you’re alive again. When you always move a little is not so scary to then take a next step, a next move. It’s life. Movement. It gives to our body and to our eyes different and new experiences, triggers, sensations. It drives us in directions which are different, because you are always different when you move.
In best case, the body knows/leads and the mind (just) follows.

I would like to jump a bit in contemporary circus field by mentioning contemporary circus company Un Loup pour l’Homme [iv]which is focused on partner acrobatics and hand to hand techniques. I’ve been on their workshops and also at one talk after their performance where a performer Alexandre Fray pointed out a principle which resonates with me. I’ll try to recapture his words or better my understanding of it. They as artists and first as humans are aware that they are alive and complex so they don’t thrill to professional perfection, which would mean that they demand from their bodies to become a machines. It doesn’t go like this. They don’t want to wear out their bodies in the name of perfection. This does not exist when there is a human, a dancer, an artist. So they don’t focus on repeating the same shows day by day because they know it is not possible. One day you feel different than the other day. You are a living matter. So you adapt to your feeling also when you perform the “same show”. It’s never the same show. That’s the charm of it. It is playfulness and improvisation inside frames that the group work and agree with.
I would call this life that is happening on the stage and which I love to watch. A human in all of his/her beauty and vulnerability. Sustainable attitude towards your body and towards your art. Because there is no point to thrill for sustainability in what we eat, how and where we live if then in the same breath we defy ourselves when we use our body to make art. It doesn’t make any sense to be so hard on you to then be worn out by the time you’re forty or fifty. And probably when you get rid of the burden of perfection then it becomes easier to strive for it. You go on the journey in its directions through playfulness, lovingness, love to your body and co-bodies of people with whom you create.

And in this strange times…

Dance as an impulse of freedom.
Individual, internal one but also as an act of external freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to express without words, bodily, which can be more articulated and straight to the point as words.
Dancing dance is a matter of freedom, of trust in your body, of letting go, of losing the fear of (literally) falling, of using the flor as your partner, in a way making love with the flor, and paradoxically you ground yourself so you can jump/fly.
To lose the mind and follow the impulses which brings flow or vice versa?

In this strange times I miss something alive, something that moves me/shakes me/drives me the way only dance can. To lose yourself in space and time, when you (as a performer or as an audience) come out of a theater and you are blown away, without words to describe the experience. And you don’t need words you just need to carry the feelings you’re left with.
Is this simple and yet so astonishing and beautiful as art itself is.

So… let’s dance!!!


[i] The Blaze, Dancehall (Animal 63/Columbia/RCA, 2018).
[ii] Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar/4AD, 2007).
[iii] Murakami, H. (2007). Kafka na obali. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga.
[iv] Un Loup pour l’Homme:

Choreographic Turn was made with financial support of Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and with financial and logistical support of Nomad Dance Academy Slovenija.