10:19 pm: Some last thoughts
And just like that it’s over.
Not the place for the usual reflection on the ephemerality of dance. . . more the fleeting nature of contact.
I’ve got to go now.
10:16 pm: On the walls & around
Pictures of performers on that flying chair ride at the fair, accordions in their hands, legs out, oh so happy. (I see a lot of happy in Laurie’s work.)
Video: three performers on chairs, tapping, clapping, stamping, getting out of control. Laurie tends to work with the same performers over and over—Judith Howard, Tom Carlson. They have strong presence; they can hold a still silence.
You start to wonder: what does twenty, thirty years of work add up to? What can you say is accomplished? Does it makes sense to even think about it that way? Dance doesn’t work like some arts—the videotapes are finished the way a painting never is. I think, more, the sense I’m getting is of the amount of life summoned, concentrated. Laurie has made more life.
10:06 pm: Post show reception
“And this piece is called The Reception,” someone cleverly says to the woman next to me. Wine’s out. Time to get happy.
But I’m going to go look at more of the installation.
10:00 pm: 5 dancers & a DJ
They have an individual intelligence & dilemma. Opera & they move in chunky visually clear shapes, like paper dolls. Cut-outs. People you might be when you grow up.
This movement has a planetary rightness.
Now they’re singing. . .
This has the feel of a public presentation—we should be learning not to drink & drive from this.
Isolated solos of pleasure. Yes, this is pleasurable. (Important to notice every so often—how are you doing?)
Has something happened to them or is it about to?
Maybe they’re at a political rally. They have to keep believing what they’re saying.
Break time—they’re chatting with each other, one is lecturing the DJ (who stares off into space). Everyone has done wrong.
I keep looking at Susan Scalf (in the green suit)—there’s a perfect cookie cutter exactness to her movements, down to the way she holds her hands, all her fingers together like a doll.
This is making me smile. Some dances have this quality where I’m already wishing for instant replay.
Same phrase but on their backs now—so we get the bird’s eye view.
Perfect. . .
And then, after the applause, we get the backstage—lights on, dancers talking, carrying things out in the hall. The real world. (“real” with great big air quotes)
9:42 pm: Laurie in the space
(why do I want to start with her clothes?)
Movement inside & outside rules.
She makes a vase-like shape—Isadora.
(That little green scarf is so sly.) (She knows it.)
Surprised by what she did.
Backwards “executing” like a skater. Making a pass.
Gestural. Moment of uncertainty. Explaining it to us (but we don’t speak that language).
(I can hear myself type. Remind me of how bothered I always am by photography in the theater.)
Her shadows converge behind her.
Looking for what’s next.
9:34 pm: Live performance about to start. . .
Someone just called me out.
30 minutes is so not enough to check out this retrospective. The color alone could occupy you that long.
Watching Elliott sweep is hypnotic. Is he part of the performance?
Complex tape lines on the floor, like a basketball court.
9:31 pm: Videos(2)
Fantastically slinky slo-mo movement to some raucous music, brass and drums. The costumes! Rufflicious skirts, lime green, chartreuse, harlot red, black petticoat. Laurie has a thing for woman-according-to-thrift-store. Movement is all over—from holding still, pedestrian gestures to wild thrashing.
Split screen: one of the performers, one of the videocamera held by one of the performers. Ah, I saw this in real life. The soprano in her kelly green dress. Mysterious tableau. Where did they come from. I’m getting a feeling of ghosts. What’s in the theater when no one’s there.
9:23 pm: Spectators
Who’s here: dance-crowd regulars of the avant stripe—Justin Jones, Sally Rousse. People in tweeds, black, brown, conservative clothes. Dressed for the blizzard. Overwhelmingly white (surprise surprise, it’s Minnesota).
Someone’s reading over my shoulder. (Denies it.)
There’s a girl documenting things with her iPhone. Is she, like me, part of the program? Can’t tell.
People for the most part ignore me. I think they think I’m a little rude, with my laptop and all.
People congregating around videos, chatting in little groups. God this is the kind of thing it’s hard to come to alone—your aloneness becomes so public. You are the performance, performing your isolation.
9:17 pm: These videotapes (1)
We’ve been given the instruction to walk around and look at the various video stations scattered about the space. Here goes. . .
Some dreamers cavorting in an arch. Dressed for Logan’s Run, bright colors. Only one of us gets to listen to the sound and it’s not me. Green green grass. But something un-Utopian about the movement—blocky, heavy planes shifting into place. It’s summer in an off-kilter world.
Split-screen. Can’t tell what’s happening. Black and white. Static. Newscast. What the.
People skating with fireworks on their heads—a man carrrying a giant fish that spouts sparks. I feel like I’m witnessing the ritual celebrating of some Scandinavian village, centuries old, caught on tape for the first time. “Loring Park tonight” the TV news headline reads.
9:08 pm: A note about this “live” thing
So this is unusual for me. Normally I take the notes in the dark, no one sees the notes, I go home and think about things, I present a finish opinion, everything is all smoothed off (in much the same way as the usual presentation of ego is all smoothed off); however
that’s not the case here.
People stalking around the space finding things or people to inspect. Crouched in a corner, I’m not clearly one thing or the other. No one knows whether to look at me or not.
A work in progress.
8:57 pm: What they wore to the detonation
Start with the costumes: that boxy green check suit with the blue suede pumps. maroon suit with wide-leg pants. black suit, man-cut, worn by a woman, narrow tie. blue mini-dress with big white collar, blue tights, white go-go boots. check suit, wide lapel polyester shirt.
Costumes flattened in frames on the wall, looking a little trapped (especially trapped because they are the costumes of characters): the black suit Laurie wore to play Anthony—who is perpetually beginning the tango, cigarette in mouth—Camels pack at the ready; a fiesta outfit for Mania (which I’ve never seen).
Time to visit the bits and pieces. . .
8:44 pm: LVW: before the show
So here I am, “backstage” at Laurie Van Wieren’s retrospective. A lot of talented people are swarming about (some in perfect LVW retro outfits) & last minute this & thats are being prepped—
(Laurie does air-traffic controller hands at me and says “blogging”)
12:35 pm: Watch this space: Live-blogging Laurie Van Wieren’s Who Made These Video Tapes?
Tonight starting at 8 pm, I’ll be posting live comments as part of Laurie Van Wieren’s dance installation at the Ivy Building. Come to the show or watch online!