The Shape of Things to Come
Taking risks is intimately linked to making mistakes. In terms of thinking about art and making art, mistakes can be corrected or altered. There is the possibility of shaping rupture. The overlying sensibility is to understand that it is the dissonance and the inherent questions that prevail.
Unafraid of making mistaktesIn the late 1990s, contemporary dance choreographer and curator Lynda Gaudreau was advancing a series of works integral to her Encyclopœdia project. At the time, she pulled back the curtain revealing the authoritative questions that arise during her working process, and a glimpse into understanding who she is as an artist, not just the art. “What is crucial in this Encyclopœdia is not to stray from the spirit of the laboratory, the research lab, unafraid of making mistakes — this is what drives me to use other forms of expression, including literature, video, photography, film, and installation,” she stated.
In truth, the creative space evolves around contradictions, contentious issues, and unplanned ruptures, and an aversion to the idea of “perfection.” Delving into the fault lines of creation is an immersive undertaking. Akram Khan’s thinking around the demands of trying to achieve perfection are significant. He prefers mistakes because they’re more interesting. In a post-performance discussion, he asserted that his training was built from having to stay strict to his task but said when those measures break, that’s where the information comes from.
Radical InnovationsChoreographer Merce Cunningham’s collaboration with composer John Cage, from the early 1950s onward, proposed radical innovations, including upending the interdependent relationship between dance and music. They developed a method of putting work together known as chance procedures, an organic process determining and ordering dance and musical phrases, including the number of repetitions, direction, and spatial relation. The numbers at the top are pairs of hexagrams. In this case each hexagram correlates to either a solo, duet, trio, quartet, quintet, or sextet. There’s a key below that shows which hexagrams correspond to which groups (e.g., Hexagram 1-11 is a solo, 12-21 is a duet). Then, below the numbers, he has “translated” the score into the groupings. Here, the dance opens with a section for a quartet and a duet. At the bottom it says “throw” for the content of solos, et al. (meaning, throw the I Ching to get a hexagram, each hexagram in that case corresponds to a phrase). | © Merce Cunningham Trust, all rights reserved.
Like mistakes often can, this opened up new possibilities for Cunningham and Cage. Theirs was an ideal refuge, and they profoundly transformed the way collaboration has been perceived.
"I want to do new things."
Performance and Audience.
Participants of the performance flat on the floor
The joy of dancing.
An article in The New York Times indicates that Bel isn’t afraid of failure, nor is he concerned with locked structures. “I’m not interested in becoming a museum of myself,” he said. “I want to do new things.” His approach to movement indicates that this kind of staging reinforces that the more chances you take, the more freedom you have to invite discourse.
During this time of quarantine, we’re discovering a period of dodgy gambit, full of paradox and contradiction. We’ve become alert to the idea of breaking things down, reviewing our ideas about “crossing the line,” and finding new meaning in pre-conceived codes of doing things together. In this upside-down world of pandemic lockdown, we’re being encouraged to expand the possibilities of learning and growth and to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and openness in our interactions and creatively build new means of connection. As the days meld into months, people are in a constant state of reflection, gauging the possibilities of what’s in front of them. We were once told that isolation keeps us powerless, as people had previously adapted easily to the need to come together to work and create. Now, with the acceptance of ruptures in our societal vision and neoliberal development narratives in full evidence, failures are subversive catalysts.
In this time of shared online existence, audiences and makers alike are seriously revising creation strategies and pausing to consider a multiplicity of meanings, engulfed in the ways in which they perceive, observe, and judge actions, or a set of actions, about our lives in common.