How to use a dance performance as a source for poetical observations and insights?
The idea of this orientation is to suggest tools for observing the performance consciously. It means active inner participation through the act of observation, thinking, and if you wish, note making.
I think that the acts of thinking and observing in themselves (also) without goals are important. Not everything needs to be useful immediately or prominently or at all. Thinking, observing and note making are already acts. They can be clearly articulated or they can move in a boundariless humming area. Not all writing needs to have a clear purpose or use outside of itself. Those can also be found later.
The ability to focus the attention: to surrender, to have an inner dialog, porousness, to undress assumptions. The skill of exclusion: note making requires concentration, while writing your notes exclude the surroundings, let it become background noise. Accept that you miss something while writing.
It doesen’t matter if your notes are related to the actual piece or to some other things that came to your mind. Your innerness is anyway part of the performance. This is not about accomplishing something but about being with the piece and yourself.
Make notes generated by the stream of thoughts, observations and associations during the performance and after it. You can also just think about these. (But I encourage to make notes because your experience becomes more visible to yourself this way. The immaterial stream also vanihses and passes out of mind easily.) You can choose to concentrate on either one or several aspects.
Your notes can be poetic, outspoken, contemplative, in vain, concrete, philosophical etc. You can continue writing on other side of the paper. You can also draw.
Some typical means of poetry:
- uncommon associations, words, connection between verses
- the meaning can stay open, ambiguous, contradictory, impossible to give
- multiplicity of the forms: prose poem, verse poem, aphorism-style poem, poetry prose fragment, essay poem, visual poem
- fast transitions, compact expression
- repetition, multi-layerd
- to simplify, to complicate
- Feeling: How does the space feel? Why? How do you feel to yourself in the space created by the performance? Who/what are the performers in the space? How do they feel? What if this happened under the water? What if this happened under the world wars?
- Precision of the obscure: Describe how some detail, situation, movement appears to you as an intuitively precise ”presentation” of an emotion, intention, thought or thing. Grasp a detail and let it speak to you. Tell something about yourself via this detail.
- Politics: In what sense the performance is political? What are the things it is standing for? Do you reach the reasons for the battle? What the politics in the piece evokes in you?
- Reflection of the inner landscape: What if the performance were a reflection of your own consciousness or inner landscape or dream? What does the performance tell about ourself? What does the performance tell about the collective consciousness?
- ”Manual”/guidelines for future: If you had to compile for yourself a list of guidelines for future on the basis of this work, what would your notes be?
- Source for art: If your task were to paint a painting on the basis of this performance, what would your notes be?
- Give yourself a task: If all the aspects mentioned here feel familiar, try to figure out what are your usual orientations and challenge yourself to figure out somehow new spectator position. How is it and what it generates?
- Contemplation: Who are you after the performance? Did it change your view to something or to yourself?
By poet and prosaist Maria Matinmikko. These materials have been created especially to Figured by Sheena McGrandles but you are free to use these principles also for other performances.