This well-known phrase means that, regardless of problems, on or off stage, the event must continue till the end. This implies that the performance is impermeable to real life and its difficulties and that the performers are responsible for sustaining this illusion. It might not always be possible or even advisable to go on with the show, if circumstances are demanding a change of plans. We might want to carry on and deny what is really happening, but the thing is that life does go on, whatever happens, with or without us. Getting left behind entangled in our own script only means catching up later. Thus, if keeping our show going is becoming increasingly difficult, perhaps it’s time to yield to the bigger event, the one that goes on and on effortlessly.
Virtuosity is great technical skill in music or dance. In her ‘No Manifesto’ of 1967, postmodern dancerYvonne Rainerrejected virtuosity together with spectacle, style and transcendence of the star image. In this way, she reflected the sign of her times in dance and its interest for being. The body as it is, doing what it does and how it does it in a pedestrian way became worthy of becoming performance. The line between being and doing is very fine, and Yvonne Rainer herself redeemed virtuosity in her ‘A Manifesto Reconsidered’ of 2008, saying that it’s acceptable in limited quantity. What is the right amount? It might be worth asking ourselves, how much of our identity is relying on doing what we do as opposed to being who we are.
The rotational axis is the centre of a revolving movement and the point which remains still. When a dancer wants to spin, the rotational axis is key. The centre of the body needs to remain stable for the force applied to create a spin. Also, a wobbly axis will cause the dancer to lose their balance. When, metaphorically speaking, movement threatens to make us lose our balance, a stable axis is a good place to find stillness. The key is to cultivate its strength and stability and learn to make our way there. Our physical axis runs between the crown of the head and the pelvic floor, in front of the spine – perhaps that’s a good place to start!
Before an orchestra plays all the musicians check their tuning together. Something similar happens when we meet someone. We don’t usually dive into the big thing that we want to tell them or do with them, but rather begin with an introduction, usually including “How are you?”. We can reply with a standard and opaque “Fine, thank you. And you?” or we can actually let the other know how we are today. It’s an opportunity for our tones to come closer thanks to empathy. No need to slash our hearts open, but acknowledging our mood or the fact that something is keeping our mind busy can prevent these things from sabotaging the connection. I also find it a relief not to have to pretend that I’m different to how I actually am.
In herAction Theater methodology for real-time composition, Ruth Zaporah distinguishes between direct and indirect relationship between performers. Direct relationship is what we would generally call relationship: the persons make eye contact and interact with each other explicitly, it’s a personal frame. This creates a field that can become impermeable to what is going on outside it. Have you ever noticed how different your attention is when travelling with someone and when travelling alone? Or how endogamic and exclusive certain relationships can be? A direct relationship offers close connection, complicity and support. When and how can we make it porous in order not to miss the opportunities to enrich it with what’s going on outside?
I remember my acting teacher Consuelo Trujillo saying “It’s not about you. What you do must be at the service of the piece”. Leaving behind personal preferences in order to become the means by which the piece fulfils itself is an exercise in letting go of self-assertion and in subordinating ourselves to something greater than us. Of course, that which we subordinate ourselves to must be meaningful to us. Serving is a powerful experience in making sense of life. When we yield to something, we become one with it and the inherently human need to belong and to transcend our limited identity is satisfied.
It is a privilege to be given attention to express/communicate/show whatever one wants to. There are always constraints, of course, but that is basically what is happening. What do I do with this time and space that I’m given? What do I feel is worth addressing or what deserves attention? When we are free to choose, we are also automatically responsible for our choice. Even not choosing, when done freely, is a choice, and we are responsible for it. What is it that I’m contributing? What am I bringing into existence?
A medium is the means by which something is conveyed or transmitted. It’s not rare for live artists to work with more than one medium and combine dance, music, speech, text and even technical media like video in their work. The word multimedia sounds very contemporary, but it includes also non-technological media, so the term is applicable to 16th-Century Commedia dell’Arte, which incorporated music, dance and acrobatics to theatre. Without a medium, there is no expression or realization of who we are. It can be our work, our relationships, our hobbies, our practices… It’s important for every aspect of who we are to have a channel to express itself. Perhaps we need to become multimedia… which doesn’t mean technological.
A sonata is a musical structure in three parts: exposition, development and recapitulation. This kind of pattern is widespread in traditional forms of live arts: three-act structure in theatre (setup, confrontation, resolution), Yvonne Rainer’s description of traditional dance phrases (attack, suspension, recovery) and the Japanese traditional aesthetic concept of Jo-ha-kyū (beginning, rupture, rushing) applicable to music, dance and theatre . This seemingly universal consensus would seem to suggest that this pattern underlies the natural movement of all things. In Hinduism, the supreme divinities are the Trimurti, the trinity of Brahma (who creates), Vishnu (who preserves) and Shiva (who destroys). Vipassana meditation is based on the fact that all experience appears, develops and disappears. Everything is transient. Even though when we’re submerged in the midsection (development, confrontation, suspension, rupture,) of something we may become absorbed in its intensity, everything will pass. Then something new will begin.