Filling in the body map

Zsuzsanna Soboslay

FEET. We are seated in a semicircle, as if we are the audience. Six pairs of feet askew, leathered pairs. The softness of mediating what we’ve seen, the trying to prod further questions open. Still, as in any of the performances, we are on display. I hope my haircut is forgiven.

ANKLES. I go weak at the ankles without my daughter in the room. She is three months old. Amazing what constitutes our being, our vision, our capacity to absorb. At the moment, without her my eyes are nothing, my tongue is dry. With her, the world opens. I am not divided. What are the parallels that keep us closed to dance?

KNEES. My knee-jerk reactions. Techno-ethics. Gideon likes to be “in control”; Chrissie is playing digital until she gets her dancers back. Keeping in work. Being paid or not. I shudder shudder. There are ethics in the calling forth (or failing to call forth) of movement from the body of another being. I speak of the censoring of movement: corridors, shadows, dance, not-dance. Studio vs public work, said Eleanor. The right next move, and not the wrong one. The ugly and ungainly—does it have a place? The multiple, beautiful, untrammelled dancings of a child. Listening to doubt. William McClure’s suspended moment is an inclusion for which we can be thankful as a reminder of how much goes on in the nothing, no-thingness. Sue-ellen silk-slips in, around, a small turn: dancing an option without her shoes on. What opens from silence.

THIGHS. Support. 1) Those impossible squat-walks in Butoh. 2) Ros Crisp talks of classical dance-training as a ticket to ride. Like a plastic card opening the doors to teach—almost anywhere, almost anything else. This is muscle-power; background steroids, still legal. 3) There are four babies here. Rose Godde says next time they will organise a crêche. The inclusions are starting to happen.

PELVIS. Sue-ellen had made a piece following an accident. Others clearly make pieces just out of a desire to (watch the body) move. Sometimes watching motion is enough, sometimes not. Macbeth was in a bad mood when he said we are but shadows and dreams. Strutting, fretting, yes, but there’s always a context out there. Our histories leak into our bodies and sometimes these stories cannot be ignored. The personal is political as soon as it steps into a room.

PELVIS/HIPS. Someone talks of being an “empty vessel” for the choreographer, yet of fulfilling herself as an individual in the dance. (The man next to me says he is horrified, “Think what she’s saying!” Residual oil from salad days in our mouths.) This is not Zen. Trevor Patrick talks about the interrelatedness of outside and in. This is Zen. Tony Yap wonders how we share presence, presuming that sharing as a given. Is this Zen?

WAIST. Who helped unbind the feet, release the waist. Russell Dumas gets two guernseys.

SIDES. Where (some of us) began. Bend and stretch, reach for the sky. Stand on tippy-toe oh so high.

CHEST. Pass.

CHEST. Try again. There are more women than men here.

SHOULDERS. Response-ability, and who’s to blame. There can be laziness in whatever we do: technologising or non-technologising, looking, making, sensing. You have to do the work of seeing—audience too.

ARMS. I embrace you, you adoring audience. Matthew Bergan’s film where dancers enact and debunk their bows.

NECK. Rubbernecking. Remembering our histories.

We FACE up to ourselves sitting down, rise to drink coffee and tea, dine on frittata and hams. We wanted to trace/find the ground. Does the old Greenmill sink or swim from here? Mapmakers copyright mistakes—one added road, an extra contour—to protect their pages from the unscrupulous. Pity the driver lost in a phantom street or drowning in a fake causeway. But at conferences, the value is unmappable. It’s the whisperings in the brain, in the body, the troubled slip-ups in corridors that, like ghost spirits never mapped, stir the next journey on.

The way forward is to remember what we’ve forgotten to say.

RealTime issue #27 Oct-Nov 1998 pg. 10

© Zsuzsanna Soboslay; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 1998
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