13 November 2010

12-13 novembre: new studies/Shirley Verrett Tribute

 12 novembre:

 Dare I count the days? 6 weeks, 3 days remaining here…

Invent a character and follow it day to day. Include vocal line
Hands neck back/spine, butt, thigh foot, exquisite corpse idea

 Reportage: Is the body a world to scan for stories and record, to gather headlines about, to watch like the weather, to report on daily?  And then editorialize upon? Can one equate the body with the world, the earth, a complex system of interacting forces? Am I capable of ever observing myself in an unbiased, purely objective manner? Is the video camera the best means of attempting this reportage? Is this a kind of documentation?

Accumulate footage that studies, charts or follows a passage over time, that drops in on the body daily, with the intention of cutting and pasting it all together to give the illusion of an evolution, a gradual transformation,

Same framing daily : of face, nude chest, back, feet, etc. corpse idea. While talking. Dancetalkshow.

Diderot encyclopedia.

13 novembre

Out of yesterday’s studio time came the beginnings of a compilation of studies of sitting and standing figures. I also began a new series I’ll call The Nudie Strip for now: motion studies of then nude figure. I’ d like to keep this up until I can’t move any more. Watch the old man stagger until he drops.

When I returned to the apartment, I felt compelled to make a tribute to Shirley Verrett, the extraordinary dramatic soprano who died last week. Shirley was a colleague of mine n the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for many years. Dubbed La Callas noire from her huge European successes earlier in her career, she became a beloved teacher and mentor to many students. Always elegant, glamorous and “on”, she was at the same time a warm, generous and genuine person.

I moved the furniture out of the front room, placed a chair against the wall, and performed for the camera three different improvisations to a rare recording of Shirley singing “When I am laid in earth” from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. The recording had been sent to me via e-mail by another colleague, Lydia Qiu. Click here for In Memorium: Shirley Verrett.

Later that morning, I played with two of the standing figure studies shot earlier and made a duet using opacity/overlays. I took the parts of the two figures dancing within the overlapping transparencies and featured them on either side, using them also as panels that separate like a theater curtain then close again. A painter like Francis Bacon has two canvases side by side in a diptych hanging on a museum wall; the observer is free to take her time to  "choreograph" her own story or overlay the two pictures, comparing or contrasting, i.e. "reading" them to make for some cohesive experience of the painting. My challenge here is to organize the two figures as they share the same space of the screen AND constantly change configuration, or MOVE, in a discreet duration of time.  And what is that movement "saying" or expressing? One at a time? Together as a duet of sorts? How do I provide the viewer with the opportunity to take it all in on one viewing?  Or do I assume that it will take multiple screenings, since that's how easy it is on YouTube: a mere click of the laptop?

I found a terrific musical scoring for it from among the 16 selections on a new CD by musician/composer Thollem McDonas, whose work I have often featured with my screendances. He is  generous soul, and his collaborator on this CD, Stefano Scodanibbio, plays a fierce contrabass foil to Thollem's piano. Entitled On Debussy's Piano And..., it's hot off the press. Click on title for more info.  I've named the short screendance Dance Panels after one of the first modern dance works I ever performed while a high school senior at Interlochen Arts Academy. My teacher at the time, William Hug, choreographed the work to a score of the same title by Aaron Copland. This study is for Bill, wherever he might be. 
Click here for Dance Panels.

fter contacting Thollem in Berlin with a link to the new video, he responded with some insights:

Wow, what a marriage!
I just can't put into words how special it is to see my work reflected through You!!!
Also, the title of this piece is Jupiter Mercury Venus Moon.
These objects were in a very special alignment the day my mother died almost 2 years ago, so I can't tell You how deep is my experience seeing Your dance to this music!
Here's a brief explanation of the titles:
My mother was very ill when I recorded this music, and it was profoundly sad for me that she was unable to make the trip to France for the concert. She was a pianist and a great teacher, and Debussy was her favorite composer as a small child and throughout her life. She died 3 months after these recordings were made and so I was fortunate to be able to share them with her. When Stefano and I recorded the structured improvisations of mine there were no titles set, as I didn't want titles to influence our music. So, I set the titles afterwards and during my mothers last days. These titles are a poem interweaving the lives of my mother and Debussy. On my mother's deathbed I looped the recordings of myself playing Debussy's music. The evening my mother died Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and the Moon made a perfect diagonal to the sunset from the perspective out the window of her hospital room.
I will share this with many...
Life, Thollem