01 October 2010

mercredi 29 septembre The Bodytalk Template/Peter Chin

One of my proposed goals for this residency was to continue with a project I began over 5 years ago in Ann Arbor: The Bodytalk Template is part-video archive, part cross-cultural or comparative study of male dancers from diverse cultures, aesthetic backgrounds and forms of dance. So far, I have been able to capture on camera the improvisatory responses of seven dancers (one American, three Indonesian, a Japanese butoh dancer, an East Indian) to the same set of “assignments” I give them just seconds before they dance their responses to those assignments for the static camera. Ann Moradian. An American dancer now living in Paris, connected me with Peter Chin (click here for his website), who was spending a week here from Toronto doing research and who most graciously gave me a few hours of his time this morning to serve as my seventh subject for the study.

We filmed in the large, white space of Micadanses. As has happened each time I am alone in the video studio with one of these marvelous, mature artists, I was profoundly moved—yes, to tears—by Peter’s commitment and poetry. I sat enthralled, a privileged witness to a lifetime of body wisdom distilled in the instant like no other alchemy or magic. I guess you could call this my religion, my communion: a reward or gift to myself for the years of devotion to the field.

Peter has synthesized his experience living and studying dance forms in Asia, (Cambodia, Indonesia), his own heritage (Jamaican/Malaysian descent) and his talents as musician, actor, choreographer, writer and student of all movement to “speak” a dance language that is rich in detail of head and hands, gesture (incorporating certain classic influences of Asian dance forms as well as a modern-day world citizen’s repertoire of miscellaneous signals and everyday babble) and quicksilver shifts. Yet he remains always anchored, centered in the low core of the hips. Not weighted down, but evenly placed between earth and sky, in his own body zone. Extraordinary. Now the responsibility is on me to make something of this study. I have much talent to draw from while here and will pursue my options!  Thank you, Peter Chin.