What can today's body do?
What have you been doing? It may be one of the most normal questions in daily life, but somehow that question has taken on so much more weight in times of Corona. That question seems to be charged now. There are days when that question is forbidden and there are days when that question is encouraging and stimulating.
I come back to the question, what have you been doing? Today I made breakfast and practiced some piano and guitar exercises. While doing homeschooling (and while hoping I explained the exercises from the book right) I checked my email. I still have to go to the supermarket and would like to do an online dance training, that's if everything goes well... Other days the demand is more focused on writing up projects, and researching for my new work. Sometimes the demand is more idle, but I always find something to do. The other day I cleaned the windows of the house and admired them, proud of having done it so well and of that gesture of bringing another energy home. I've been practicing the exercise of acknowledging my privilege and of giving great triumphs to small acts.
I have had long conversations over the phone, somehow remembering old times when my mother would yell at me to hang up the phone after a long call with my friends while wrapping my fingers in the spiral cable. These days are perhaps like these words, which jump from one subject to another without asking permission or making introductions or closings. These are times of reverie, of reflection, of suspension. These times for me are of reconnection, specifically with my own body, even if it sounds cliché. Somehow I realized that in this last year I was living in the memory of a body from years ago, the one that used to dance every day.
The practice as a choreographer that is not included in her own creations invites me to have various understandings of the body, but somehow I seem to have forgotten how to understand my own.
In short, and without getting too theoretical and melancholic, I realized that I was having the perception of a body that is not currently mine. And I only realized that when I decided to take a video-recorded yoga class. My body recognized the movements, and I was very confident that I would do the class without any problems, but things were different in reality. Those movements that were always done with the greatest of ease were now almost impossible, sometimes still with the feeling of not having the slightest control over some parts of my body. To reassure myself, I tried to think that it was the day, but the next training was the same. A friend was giving a contemporary dance class on social media, I moved the furniture away and did it. There the difficulty was less, but even so, there I felt again not having control of my body. I breathed; other days will come. I did ballet online. This last one came to confirm my suspicions. When was this body born? Whose body was it? What can this body do?
Without delay, and omitting the details about the depression, the frustration, and the will to eat all the chocolate stock from the Spätkauf, I listened and recognized my body as it is now.
This Corona time invites me to establish an individual discipline, the one that has never been my strength, the one that is not full of what has always inspired me to dance: to sweat together, to move and learn by touch, to breathe together, to observe and be observed, to cross the space always in relation to the other, to feel the heat, the sound, the smell, the energy, the body of the other. Now it is the body of the screen and me, in my house. A new routine, a new kind of body perception, which in fact enhances the need of the other. But it was in the absence of the other that it appeared. A re-establishment of self-contact that is born from the deprivation of contact. These are the curious contradictions of these times.
One of my intentions during my residence at the Villa Kamogawa was to experience some of the Japanese practices of movement (Do-ho and Seita-ho), not only because of the desire to continue the study of movement, and the need for exchange, to see how the body is understood in other cultures, but also because of the desire to be nourished. I realize that I as a choreographer needed to be stimulated, that my body needed to be nourished, that my body needed to be moved and not only make others move. I feel that this desire to get back in tune with my own body was already calling me. In its beginnings, I projected it towards Japan, but now regardless of the place and the conditions, this moment has arrived.
What will happen after this strange moment I do not know. I only hope that this separation will make the desire to experience live art even stronger. In the theatre, in the street, or whatever that space is, but in a space that allows us to experience the arts of the body, the art of presence in its maximum and inherent potency. A space that is made alive thanks to the heat and energy of the bodies that inhabit it. A space that is not just that of the screen, a space that transports you to other places without the need of a Wifi connection. A space that stimulates the imagination, that receives our bodies in movement, together.
I was asked, how is it possible to replace the analogue movement of a body, or bodies moving together in dance or choreography, with digital movement? I am reminded by some philosophers* who have speculated about the body. I remember those who say that the body is what it can do, and that it is with that potency that we experience being in the world, and that every potency exists in movement. Movement, that which is an imperceptible becoming, that which precedes, that which is invisible. That is to say, we relate to the movements that constitute things and images, rather than to the things themselves. The body is potent in action, in movement. We exist in a zone of continuous variation, and this continuous variation provokes continuous rebirths. We need to each time reinvent our sensitivity and reinvent our perception.
I think that in these times we need exercise perceiving with the movement. We need to keep ourselves in movement, actively observing, exercising waiting, remembering, in order to broaden our perception. We need to look at the internal and external reality continuously, and combine these contexts. We need our potency, our body to coexist with our context. But even though the context is now predominantly digital, I believe and hope that movement, dance, will not be reduced to that unidimensional, digital and untouchable body, without smell, without heat - that entity with another understanding of presence. As a response to these times, there may be ways to move, each body in their own square, and to still find poetic responses. But that can never replace the potency of the body, the force that does not exist and move just inside a screen.
*Luiz Fuganti on Spinoza, Deleuze, Guattari, Nietzsche, and Bergson.