02.02.20 & 02.05.20
I dimmed the studio light board, a moist finger dowsing gaslights, my knuckles little knobs for adjustment, edging the video camera towards its dancing subjects. My heart darkening in the space, I was reminded of my father’s hands waterfalling over my bedroom nightswitch. Comfort from behind a camera like watching a childhood classic. My feet sunk into the grey marley as the lens swam between left and right, the Sunday afternoon light tucked in by black curtains at each corner of the space. Moviemaker me was sifting for dream in a bowl of netted choreographies, sparkles of sub bass synth tapering out the crackly stereo system like comits in the eardrums. We were all in a daze of inspiration, instincts coupled with strange feelings of relief — that we could stay here forever, creating to a tidal wave ambience and fading with pixels of tetris sound into a digital landmass of our own existence.
My muscles did not ache, but longed to move upon reveling in the translation of my verbalizations into physical tasks. Dancers are like psychedelics, fancies of ballooning colors and warped shapes shouting silently — I am nothing without this exclamatory, question-mark space. It hurts, it is almost regretful, to leave a studio — like leaving a field of slick ice that you carved for hours with your skates, only to have the dust disperse and the new snow erase the figure-eights. When we left this room, another couple had taken our place; it would be occupied for the remainder of the night. The green screen unfolded in rolls of wrapping paper, cast downwards like a tapestry. I was so green, my cheeks puffed in sickened envy — I wanted the space forever, as if this passion became a selfish obsession, something to consume the relentless unfillable time. It’s easy to have a 4am night here.
Leaving a space — for me — as small and intimidating as a studio, is an airplane departing out my cortex. I’m losing my mind to a tarmac and a skybound road when I leave creative practice. I told a rehearsal director once that I couldn’t believe the four hours were over, the clock hands having rotated 360 degrees consecutively, my back spazzing and my hands twirling on the off-seconds, hoping to draw out the time like ropes of taffy, sheets of blown sugar glass.
When I told my dancers I was grateful for them, I don’t think they understood. I was grateful for their ideas, yes, but merely their presence kept my breath flowing. Spurts of excitement about movement patterns choked the insides of my throat, wrenched my heart like when you fall in love; but rather, I had fallen in love with a passion, the heart a sucker for the head. What is this? Is this why my feet feel in touch with nowhere but rooms full of red curtains and windows and mirrors?
The last time I didn’t want to leave somewhere was yesterday, and the time before that: Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday — like the fight to stay is continual, yet still scattered with inevitable leavings.
I watched the dancers’ hands transition over different body surfaces, like pieces of a music box with a never-ending wind-up mechanism. Their gazes soft as cashmere, their feet supple like spreading dough. A pressure cooker of arrivals at stillness, but never really getting quite still. It is stillness we can all learn from — a pressured spot, a traffic stop, but always rolling, a yellow light, a decrescendoing rest, a 1 being divided by 0.
It is not passion that is mathematical, but the target at which it directs. Passion is hair strewn, split toes, skin peeled in waiting flakes, it is love for the people who abandon themselves for your ideas. And it is love for the ideas that make ripple rings upon your dancers’ first steps inside of them.
The glass panels of the world trade center reflect cumulus clouds, impressionist Manet, white blurring cataracts — it is Saturday morning, wind muffles my music so the bright headphones end up wound in my pocket.
The studio mirrors reflect me dancing to a muted stereo, in the room of the speaker I blew last summer to Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”
Downtown is all I want to go, to avoid the up everyone seems to be going, to find more space between the skyline and you because only good things exist before the limits.
On the Hudson 15 minutes from Cortland Street is a poetry library where words live in quiet corners like newly strung beads. It is these words, like bodies, that I hold under my caffeinated breath. A bounce back to the studio, every line break the dancers arms, softening cotton to my directives, their gazes dazed in the doused flames of 3 hour rehearsals.
We are tired.
But we love to become each other’s ideas, eventually ink spots on rice paper in the chapbook collection — this will never end.
At one point someone asked me if I had a lover; I told them one dances to become a lover with oneself; one writes to italicize the stale, free moments, into cinnamon sweet messages, to decapitalize the selfishness one always drags along when the notebook treks across state lines, to punctuate the river of unknowns with rocks and hollow logs to cross it. One dances to become a river, being endlessly crossed, and assuredly loved along the way.