These texts are an invitation to offer insight into this poetic and personal practice developed during the course of my study. Through a regular and ongoing studio practice I draw on my personal dance history as material in an attempt to understand the affective and performative aspects of devotion in dancing, the very devotion which both obscures and reveals something intimate, but beyond the subjective. Recalling and amplifying the ghostly present and presences in a film recording of a single Cunningham technique class, I have been exploring the spectral remains in the transmission of a dance technique, from recording of living bodies to a digital, publicly-available video and then to my corporeal reinterpretation of that video. By continuously repeating the same material over the course of nearly two years I have developed a multilayered understanding of the material, which allows me to depart from and return to the class through associative portals. I bilocate between the physical site of practice and the space of recall, between an action from the class and the memory of that action. I enjoy the strange spectral things that arise from this practice: ghosts, portals, other bodies. With my eyes closed, my attention is displaced from image to sensation. It’s about work. “Not to show off, but to show,” as Cunningham said. It’s about toil. It’s about devotion. These slippery materials propose to invert the traditional choreographic relationship to presence, and instead call upon memory, absence, and dislocation to provide an understanding of movement through time and space. This collection is comprised of texts written at various points throughout my two years in the MA program New Performative Practices (NPP) at Stockholm University of the Arts. My focus on devotion in Cunningham technique originated as a self-organized Advanced Independent Study. This course was built on readings, a solo studio practice, teaching others, and interviews with former Merce Cunningham Dance Company members. I created exposition on the Research Catalogue as part of my exam, a precursor to this one. In creating the exposition, my notebook became a central tool, a material I carried and used everywhere, from the studio to the classroom to interviews to the library, all places where I carried out the study. I wrote texts on top of photographs of my notes, and the presence of two texts situated together suggests dynamic reading possibilities. This MA is research-preparatory and strictly speaking this is not artistic research. I’ve taken advantage of the liberty being independent of formal academic research offers. The traditional citation models, academic formatting, and impartial address have been left behind at times to favor for a looser, more experimental formatting, multiple styles of essays, and a piece-meal approach to continuity. Thanks to: Anna Giertz for design and layout of the print version, which inspired this version; Chrysa Parkinson, Litó Walkey, Jeanine Durning for supervision; Frank Bock for portals; Martin Hargreaves for unpacking performativity; Rebecca Hilton for the initial push; my NPP colleagues for their feedback, curiosity, and support; Ken Tabachnick for insight from the Merce Cunningham Trust; Patricia Lent, Andrea Weber, Joseph Lennon, and Michael Cole for interviews; Sarah Michelson for devotion; Moriah Evans for searching for forms; Kris Berggren for the ordinary devotion which got me here, and copy editing; Pat Richter for her music; Robert Swinston for class, again and again.
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