Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Can't Read It

I cannot read it anymore.

I have tried a couple times over the last couple of years, the lastest time the most successful, getting ALMOST half-way in (the book being a total of 185 pages). 185 pages is something I should rip through in no time. Especially when the book pertains to art. So I guess that just means it is bad....

Which book? ------ "The Romantic Manifesto" by Ayn Rand.

It was my intention to spend some time today thinking creatively by reading this book. When I picked it up to read it, I found myself dreading the time I would spend, taking it only to complete the task I had set forth some several weeks ago. I then decided that I am not a masochist and should not force myself to do things I do not enjoy doing. Wow, what a revelation.

I guess I thought if I continued reading that I would like it, considering that I really enjoyed "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged," and consider the former to be one of my favorite books. The source of this favoritism has much to do with the detailed yet light and interesting way she writes, but also with her philosophy - in ways.

These 'ways' match how I am in 'ways' what one might consider conservative politically - I am to a certain extent for the idea of limited government, all about personal responsibility, and can often see the benefits of self-interest (insert Ayn Rand here). At the same time, I am a believer of some government sponsored social programs and in all aspects of human rights.

These ideas being at odds with one another 'in ways' exemplify how, as a 'liberal' artist with personal responsibility streak, my past enjoyment of Ayn Rand is at odds with my current feelings of deterence and desire to laugh at some of her musings. Examples;

"Art is not the means to any didactic end." - Pg. 22

Art is one of the best ways to share moral and ethical ideas, as well as a structure in which to teach such ideas. To suggest that art is merely in the moment and participatory (which are indeed some of its best situations, but not only) is to limit its capacities.

"The product of America's anti-rational, anti-cognitive, "Progressive" education, the hippies, are reverting to the music and drum-beat of the jungle." - Pg. 64

This is just plain hilarious. Back to the idea of participatory and sensory experiences, suggesting that hippies are anti-cognitive is hilarious! If someone is dancing to music or beats, in those moments, all they can think about is the sound and how their body is reacting - could anything be more cognative? Cognation does not need to be planned or forced in order to be experienced, reacted to, and gained from.

"Music is an independent, primary art. Dance is not. In view of their division of labor, the dance is entirely dependent upon music." - Pg. 69

Also just plain funny. I find it interesting that I am actually taking the time to refute this, as an intense purveyor of the idea that dance that is inspired from and exists due to music is not only valid but incredible. However, there certainly is a large piece of me that insists that dance is an act of art in itself that in no way REQUIRES music. In this same line of thought, I also prescribe to the idea that music requires artistic motion - in my mind, dance - to exist. Therefore - dance and music can certainly be lookd upon as free-standing art forms, but when examined deeply, lean on one another to exist. When this thought is broadened, I would go so far as to suggest that no art form can exist without the presence of others silently informing one another.

I did eventually get to Pg. 120, but the last quote from Pg. 69 was so hilarious to me that I did not get much out of the subsequent 50 pages.

So thanks, Ayn, for applying objectivism to art - in defending romanticism alone in creation, you have provided me with several wonderful fits of giggles.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Act of Creation - "The House Can't Stand"

A simple one - meditating on and putting into words thoughts on the show I absorbed last night.

"The House Can't Stand," written and performed by Steve Epp and directed by Dominque Serrand, was both a romp through the mind of a wife left alone to her house by a deceased husband and relocated children as well as a stringing together of several politically-minded theatre happenings. Visually, each individual picture the show created (down to the sock on the legs of the table in the set) was brilliant. Yet, those pictures were created from and motivated by both intense characterization and the abandoning of such a labor.

The two artistic minds behind the show created an utterly fascinating character whose actions were equally as fitting later on in the show as they were unexpected at the beginning of the show, speaking to the cultivation of a personality intensely interesting enough on its own. I do not say 'enough' to suggest that such a thing should be left as is when it can be further developed by a fitting storyline or creation of a series of images, but rather to underscore the importance of letting a solid character hold it's weight. I felt that the weight the character created initially was made less so by the amount of randomization that came to pass within the second half of the 'storyline.'

I am also not trying to suggest that any 'good' show MUST have a solid, follow-able storyline; I am simply saying that a very clearly defined character, such as the aging housewife in this play, should be allowed to pull it's weight, and should not have to knock fists with numerous storylines for attention.

At the same time I pull down the value of having too many random things going on, I would like to boost it back up in the fact that the idea and execution of 'happenings,' can be very intriguing by themselves. Transitions from the side of a far-off road to a Hooverville-style tent encampment to the tent of Abraham Lincoln and back again to the suburban house where we started was interesting enough in itself, but my interest was hard to maintain as I tried to sort out the relevance of it all to the character that was earlier on in the play so strongly developed.

In a nutshell, I highly enjoyed the visual and movement aspects of the show - I'll get so specific as to say that I was pre-occupied in a good way by how the character's left leg stayed more straight than the right, even creating an interesting physical profile for how she approached the situations in which she was put. Additionally, I was quite taken by the character created, and the ridiculously witty and relevant one-liners tossed. I just wish the journey I followed her on had a bit more clarity.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A New Artists Statement

How is this for change?

Artist Statement, February 2008:

I began my involvement with dance as an energetic child who enjoyed being in motion and exploring life’s possibilities while playing dress-up. Noticing this, my parents enrolled me in dance class, and a pairing of innocent preferences developed into a passion for the art of dancing. My formal dance education at the U of M helped me identify the capability to focus on an objective, utilize determination, put to work my ability to be resourceful, and to correctly attend to my strengths and weaknesses regarding the pursuit of a multi-faceted career revolving around dance.

Though in hot pursuit of a professional life with variety, I have been surprised since graduation to note how important the production of my own creative work has become. I have seemed to lock into the medium of movement because it has constant shift – no two performances are ever the same. I have also begun to notice my increasing disillusionment with words. In a society that is increasingly injected with more digital images and sounds everyday, there is something refreshing about working with and viewing a physical, human body. Further, the rapidly-spreading societal plague of being ‘too busy’ and in need of constant convenience makes me feel as though people are frequently missing out on the small but poignant moments in life. If there is any a time to stop and notice, it is in witnessing the messages human bodies can transmit while moving with intention. I have often thought that my interest in this subject matter comes from my inherent need for organization and resulting tendencies to miss out on chance happenings. I yearn to break free from such habits, and look upon creation of performance art as a chance to communicate how I constantly see related predicaments in others. It is the central idea helping people identify and address their tendencies toward such complacency in life which pushes me forward.

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Artist Statement October 2009:

A Twin-Cities-based performer, choreographer, producer, administrator, teacher and writer/theorist, I seek to refine my creative interests in rhythmic and musical dance, specifically jazz and socially-related forms, through a series of many expected and unexpected experiences.

I began my involvement with dance as an energetic child who enjoyed being in motion and exploring life’s possibilities while playing dress-up. Noticing this, my parents enrolled me in dance class, and a pairing of innocent preferences developed into a passion for the art of dancing. My formal dance education at the University of Minnesota helped me identify the capability to focus on an objective, utilize determination, put to work my ability to be resourceful, and to correctly attend to my strengths and weaknesses. In the pursuit of a professional life with variety, I have enjoyed working in many capacities as a dance artist, yet the production of my own creative work has consistently come to the forefront of my efforts. In the search to define my creative impulses, I have been trying to break down why it is that I love to dance, and have come to find one constant; I love to create and match with my body the rhythms and musical qualities that I hear and sense.

I enjoy dancing socially just as much as I enjoy dancing in a concert setting, and the common thread between those two things is music. Musicians savor a close relationship between their ears and mind, and by throwing in the additional element of the eyes, musically-motivated dancers develop a keen relationship between the operation their body and the acting of listening to music; in short, they create a visceral absorbing of and response to music. Our bodies run on the rhythm of the heart, and this intense human experience alone is enough to create purposeful, satisfying, engaging and visceral dance, particularly when matched with just the right tune. The sheer variety of rhythmically connected music and dance creates seemingly endless possibilities for movement and idea explorations, as well as an electric environment fostering the constant wonder of could be done next. Truly understanding musicality, rhythm and honesty in emotion can provide a solid base for successfully and whole-heartedly catapulting into new musical and movement territory.

Within these explorations, I seek to define how dancers can embrace integrity and honesty to their personal experiences as a way to access a piece’s intention, providing them a way to truly connect to and therefore better understand and present the work. Intention within my work often relates to how embracing the need for constant convenience and the idea of being ‘too busy’ can cause people to miss out on the small but poignant moments in life.

My enjoyment of creating and matching with my body the rhythms and musical qualities that I hear and sense, connecting to the music, versatility, the creation and embracing of humanness and personal integrity through abstract movement, and the desire to assist people in opening up their eyes to the small, poignant moments are the things that move me forward (well, in many directions actually) as a choreographer and versatile dance artist.

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Reading one against the other really puts into perspective how much I have come into my own regarding my thoughts on dance in the last year and a half. I was about to type 'how my thoughts on dance have changed,' and realized that to be far from true; this new artist statement sums up the things that have always been operating in the back of my head, even through my time studying modern and post-modern dance in college. While delving deeply into that kind of thought around dance was something I value and would never take back, I am feeling relieved that I have found the right place for that information in my brain, and am beginning to learn how to let my heart lead instead.

And when my heart leads (and lets my head come with), I know now what is powering it and how to describe it.

The Passing Of Time

Seems to level things off a bit. Something that can seem frustrating and like the only thing that matters in the world can become extraineous when left to simmer for a length of time. Another way of saying this exists in the immortal words of my wise, world-observing grandmother;

"Things will always look better in the morning."

This advice was passed on to me via my mother, and I find it true time and time again. I tend to fixate on problems at hand so intensely that all other things are shut out of my mind, in turn eventually shutting down my ability to think like a rational person. When I am willing to sink in to this idea of letting go of the thing being fixated upon for now, only with the promise to return to it later, I am able to bypass that fixation due to the perspective gained in what is often just a half a day to a day or so.

Fixation (when it comes to problems) = Stagnation
Fixation (when it comes to creative thoughts) = Thick and exciting new ideas

That is all for formulaic advice today.