Tuesday, January 10, 2012

APAP Diary: Nails on blackboard

Choreography for Blackboards by Michael Kliën with Steve Valk at The Invisible Dog Art Center, a presentation of PS 122's COIL Festival:
"Choreography is not to constrain movement into a set pattern, it is to provide a cradle for movement to find its own patterns." -- Michael Kliën
In this case, the "cradle" European conceptual choreographer Michael Kliën has set up, with dramaturgical instigation from Steve Valk, resides in a raw and rather chilly arts space--grab some tea while you're there--where the audience can circulate and watch several people vigorously drawing, altering and erasing chalk doodles on standing blackboards in what Kliën calls "a series of precisely rehearsed choreographic instructions and procedures."

Said instructions and procedures were, to my eye, as invisible as the dog who inspired the name of this arts space. But no matter. It was occasionally interesting, even hypnotic, to witness the rise and obliteration of forceful abstractions at the hands of Kliën's dancers--if they are to be called that--who variously hail from the worlds of theater, poetry, physics, academia and Occupy activism. It was like watching Hindu deities--the kind of Hindu deities that might show up in seriously droopy jeans--continuously building and destroying the universe. But with chalk. And bowls of water. And a mop to clean up spills. And arm chairs for when one or another of them might need a break.

This might be a good point, though, to express my general frustration with precious, impenetrable, head-hurting language like: "These [those instructions and procedures] involve developing and exchanging insights and individual expressions in analogue and codified forms, weaving relations into a concentrated collective dance of minds" and "Choreography for Blackboards outlines a vision of dance that not exclusively understands itself as an art form, but as a constituting principle, a technology of the self at the edges of modern consciousness."

Please explain. I do not understand. And I don't think I'm alone.

Choreography for Blackboards continues tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 6pm. For information and tickets, click here.

The Invisible Dog Art Center
51 Bergen Street (between Smith and Court Streets), Brooklyn

For information on PS 122's COIL Festival performances, which run through January 29 at various locations, click here.


CML said...

Hi Eva -
I haven't seen the piece in question, and I won't, but I actually like the quote you posted, "dance that... understands itself..as a constituting principle, a technology of the self at the edges of modern consciousness." (my edit) As I understand it, it's a very wordy way of saying that the principles found in dance, or choreography, can be applied outside the boundaries of what is currently understood as 'art' (that's another discussion) to create a more embodied consciousness in a wider population. We'll probably talk more about this at that Dance and Occupy talk you so kindly mentioned recently, but I just wanted to give a short answer to your question. I'm not sure that Klien's "show" was the most effective method of conveying this, but I am all for his ideas...

Eva Yaa Asantewaa said...

I would agree that his presentation "was not the most effective method of conveying" the idea you're articulating, but at least you are articulating it in reasonably understandable language.

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