JOURNAL is a process diary, monthly digest of choreographic work as well as containing reflections, dialogs, notes and contemplations. It subscribes itself to diverse formats and forms, changing as it goes along, and shaping itself out of the requirements of the moment at hand.
Seeing Things As They Are

Dear friends,
two intense months are coming to an end as the new work in the Fantaisie Chorégraphique Series: CHOREOGRAPHIC FANTASY No. 3 premiered on 29th of May and went on throughout the June, programed by the Zagreb Dance Center. It has been a truly encompassing process carried out by five amazing dancers; Filipa Bavčević, Marin Lemić, Silvia Marchig, Sara Piljek & Nastasja Štefanić, that gave it its depth and sense. Created under the working title Open Processes, this piece subscribes itself to dance as a process, re-establishing some of the tenets of historical modernism. Performed in a dance studio set up, choreography is meeting Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano by John Cage, confronting diverse elements of inner and outer architecture. While still fresh from the process I gathered some thoughts on it as Seeing Things As They Are, and a complete documentation of the work is now online and can be viewed here.

A week before the premiere as we were discussing final details about the atmosphere of performing this work, the idea of seeing things sharply – exactly as they are, came around. We talked about its meaning and versions of it, and it became a manifesto of performing this work; being laid out and close, visible and tender, clear and deliberate, and at the same time granting all those things to the recipient, to the viewer. Dancing in that space of amplified sharpness meant that some void spots may arise, blurry fields being palpable as they enter, and holding them softly ensured that the next clear impulse will appear, a clear line that will open a moment that will arrive next. While bodies are voluminous and archaic, vibrating all kinds of emotional clusters as they proceed through the event of time, thus continuously reflecting each other by meaning, impression and narration, seeing things as they are means navigating through and with that, carrying oneself and others, as well as embedding others into oneself; viewing and being viewed, observing and being observed, interpreting and being interpreted. And then again, clearness will arise, opening of things as they are, however they are – where welcoming them means meeting them with unshattered eyes, meticulous and barefaced.

One of the most prominent directions of the whole fantaisie chorégraphique series is that the choreographic grid is approaching the music on the already established level, where the choreography seeks to sustain itself out of its own inherent navigation and urgency, and is then integrating music as a parameter to be involved in and to be transformed by. So to enter in to the dialog with Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano was to approach it as an encounter in operation, encounter in work, taking what the music is proposing at the core of the mutual discovery within the working itself. In that manner, to dance means then also to listen in a specific way: listening of the choreography reloading itself as well as navigating through and beyond music, incorporating but then releasing its patterns and reconstructions, opening the space of structure and form in the body and in the music – in the final instance navigating through the density as well as the voidness of it. In The Prepared Piano of John Cage: A New Level of Hearing the Sonatas and Interludes, Inara de Barros Ferreira writes:

With ‘Sonatas and Interludes’ Cage reaches the apex of his prepared piano pieces. The outline of the preparations is enormous and the preparation will reach nearly the entire range of the instrument. ‘The Table of Preparations for Sonatas and Interludes’ is highly complex; the process to prepare the piano takes approximately three hours. In these tables, Cage shows the tones that the interpreter should prepare, the material that should be used, this strings that the material should be placed on in addition to the distance that the pianist should put the object. As the reader can see, after the Material is inserted the first time, Cage once again repeats the material, the distance etc. This is because Cage desires the same note to be prepared two or three times in the same string but with a different distance and occasionally with a different material. The sound produced when there are two or more objects in the same string is entirely different than when there is just a single object in the string. In this piece he uses the most common objects to prepare a piano which are a bolt and screw, along with other materials like nut, plastic, rubber and eraser. In the table of preparation, one can see that he requires a total of twenty-five varied bolts. He did not write about the size of the bolts, although he noted about different types of bolts, such as: bolt (just bolt), small bolt, medium bolt, furniture bolt, long bolt. It is impressive to discover the difference of sounds between the same object but with different sizes, as I observed that a heavier object produces a strong, short rattle. In general, the sound of the bolt in the string produces little alteration in the sound of the pitches, but it does generate a percussive character. An important difference from the sound of the screws is that the sound of the bolt produces high harmonics.

From the choreographic viewpoint this complexity in preparation required for the deliverance of Sonatas and Interludes is perfectly understandable, as the experimentation with the material requires a precise framework upon which diverse outputs can press themselves against. What is here important to notice is that the inherent configuration of the objects itself is already their content, in that extended sense. Meaning, its original function is partially embedded but then also completely irrelevant at the same time, because their configuration on the scale of weight, shape, material, density, volume or size will then deliver different sound, or are able (in this setting) to deliver that kind of sound in the first place. So it is primarily about the interplay of inner and outer configurations and their relation to the objects and phenomena around them or where ever they may be placed upon, are pressing themselves upon, or what ever is being contrasted to them or around them. Choreographically that would stretch even further, approaching seemingly not-objectual phenomena such as touch, orientation, sense or sentience as the final object, as they all (to mention only some) are capable of being understood as autonomous clusters of configuration that then by colliding with other parameters can and will deliver extraordinary line of another kind of outcome. Arabesque-inner voidness-dense corner or breath-strong temperature-penché or inner emptying-sudden light-another body encounter will then press themselves against or even with the other elements that are present at that moment and listening to them as well as translating them further is creating the fabric of that very dance.

In that sense, but also in the sense of the choreographic process or procedure, choreographic objects, choreographic elements and sensorium transpositions are being build over time, mutually understanding not just what these elements are about but also why are they here and how, so by defining them there is an urgency or a logic that is being established as each element is being analyzed and fortified by the dance itself. No 3 is then occupying these specific elements and objects:

how is the body through the gaze of itself
observing yourself
observing others
body close to logic of the space
body understood through space
walk and walking through, lines and diagonals
a place where the body never was
peripheral entrance to the central space
consciousness that is staying with you all of the time
energy that is staying with you all of the time
intervals of the collective motion
spiral object, spiral surface, spiral thoughts
mutual spiral thoughts as a prelude to dance
moments of non-activity
collapse, collapse of the body along the surface
collapse, rearranging the body differently
relations and relativities in space
constellations and constellativities in space
complexity as a consequence rather than a cause
what is in the cutted middle, the body phenomenon by itself
micro-levels in the 4th position
passé spiral
falling in to the penchév grip of the front battement
unusual small jumps motivated by multiple impulses
activation of the body in the third space
breathing and breathing space
performance as a process of sedimentation
culmination of the form, the form/shape/form-vibration of the body
technique applied as vibration of a form
a multitude of shapes and forms – the sound of shapes and forms
surplus that is feeding the process of going onward
exercising concentration
rewinding the body through other bodies
relevé with observation
long lines in the body and through the body
constant detoxification of form: all forms that are coming out of the body
small-medium-large forms, segments, surfaces that the body is engaging
negotiating the middle volume segment
only large segments for a long length of time
moving through space – conquering of the space
falling in to the stillness of space
falling in to the stillness of movement
falling in to the stillness of impressions
a shift toward the inner space – sentient
sensory experience
to dance starting from the exterior of the form
to dance starting from the inner state of the sensory body
pushing of from the other, supporting oneself by the surface of the spatial volume
incorporating the roughness of space
sound stimuli around the body
passé – battement
arabesque – piqué
piqué – penché
elements and forms transposed and translated through space
relations in the architecture of the concrete space
micro-level and inner body architecture
event of the body in form
what organizes a gaze
equal levels of form, tension, breath, face
amorphous form, impulse from the inner body, a collapse of the material
structural form, impulse from outer formal configuration, a confirmation of the material
long detoxification of all forms
space as the phenomenon in the vertical
walking as the phenomenon in the vertical
standing as the phenomenon in the vertical
breath as the phenomenon in the horizontal
gaze as the phenomenon in the horizontal
spaces in-between within the music
constructions and variants of the dominant impulse
material mannerism
relations between fragments & fractals
resolving, resolution, stillness

Each of these elements and propositions inhabits singular rehearsal as well as is the part of the work itself; understanding its singular configuration and impact within the singular dance and the outer output of it. To visualize it even further, it would be more precise to understand them as singular large surfaces, almost like geological plates that are shifting across and over each other, moving along other matter and materials and transforming them anew, incorporating them. That silent tectonic sequentially unfolds the final territory of the work, that is in that sense ever unfolding, as each day points out to another dynamic that takes over.

Seeing things as they are means knowing them sharply and allowing them to transform along while navigating them with and around that particular dance, revealing their inherent configurations to create ripples in collision with themselves and with whatever might be understood as the other. In optical closeness of this dance, that immediateness translates all other elements as just another parameters to be explored with, to be placed upon the string. That slot of clear requires a certain shift in observing but also in performing; in understanding oneself as the body of dance, a dancer, a catalyst, a phantasmagoric surface, where diverse conjunctions are taking place in an event of a choreography reloading itself and from its inherent core while simultaneously being that very core. Finally, seeing things as they are consists of seeing, of things and of as they are; comprehending that state as a permanent non-place.

Published: 20/06/18

The new work, CHOREOGRAPHIC FANTASY No. 3, premiered on 29th of May 2018 in Zagreb. Performed in a dance studio set up, choreography is meeting ‘Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano’ by John Cage, confronting diverse elements of inner and outer architecture. Written by: Marjana Krajač