Friday, February 11, 2011

Frying Pan Post -Sarah, February 11, 2011

Space is everything
Yes. I'm homesick for our studio days. We're dealing now with this black theatre, scratchy walls, and a tangible expectation from the rows of seats facing us. We've spent the week "taming" the space, making it our own or part of us, accepting it for what it is. We've been trying to analyse what creates theatrical illusion and what doesn't, and realizing that there's nothing we want to "pretend". The heart and necessity of the work is sharing what we're experiencing from moment to moment. So we can't ignore the space, and why should we, it's juicy material to move and sound and talk from. And yes, we've stripped away everything else, it's just us and the space, and next week...THEM. How exciting and terrifying.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Frying Pan Post - Susanna, February 10, 2011

Ok. So it's been a couple of weeks. Lots been going on and now we are nearing the end of a week in residence at Tangente. Wow! So amazing and telling to be working in the theatre space. I hadn't realized how much the studio space we'd been working in had become our third partner in the work. Just dealing with the space itself and the strangeness and immediate pressures of "now we're doing the 'real' thing" have taken over our content considerably. It reinforces how this duet has become so much what is going on right in the very ever-changing moment that we're in. And so this, of course will change. We'll get used to this space and then it'll be the audience that's the new element. There is no relaxing except for the work of learning how to relax into the work of it.
And this constant stripping away process. Editing the space mostly. Editing what we bring into our world - once there was a table, a chair, a door, costumes.... one by one they have come, played their role and been nixed. It's really fascinating. What is necessary? So perhaps on some level I'm taking back my comment on choreographing and improvising being so different. I mean they are. And it's a different engagement that we ask of ourselves and the audience - but it's still about choices, what's essential and a different type of editing. We are working to create the right environment for everyone to be able to engage.
I feel very blessed!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frying Pan Post - Susanna, January 20, 2011

And this question of dancing. Are we dancing?
I find I worry about this less both when we are dropped into each other and also when we are staying connected to our physicality - however that may be, and whatever we may be doing. Perhaps it's not surprising that these two givens are usually linked and take care of each other. The body, the self, the physical self (be that moving flesh or sound) needs that softness you describe, Sarah. A suppleness.
Nonetheless, like we discussed in the studio today, I want to keep open to all the possibilities for movement and not put a cap on our modes of physicality. What you pointed out today is key, though. Not every possible quality of movement is going to be appropriate for every improvisation we enter into. And it's certainly possible that there's an overall tone or world to this thing that is our meeting (the score) that inherently excludes some things. Like it's unlikely I'll find myself doing a dévélopé, but you never know. All kidding aside, though...
In deciphering the physical manifestation of any moment, there is again that need for suppleness and continual dropping in. An image or movement impulse presents itself and you can't just stay with the surface of it, the idea of it, it's first glimmer; you need to keep following the tiniest details of it's actual physicality... every moment.
No wonder we're exhausted!
Maybe there will always be a small sense of longing for what didn't happen... and maybe that's ok.

Frying Pan Post - Sarah, January 20, 2011

I'm thinking about this notion of dropping...dropping in, dropping the voice, dropping my shoulders, there is this downward pull into giving in, loosening up, opening up. I'm remembering one of our first discoveries about allowing things to happen and not tightening up in the face of the unknown next step. We described it as a softening, remember? I felt that unless I relaxed in some way, through breathing or just dropping my muscular intention, I couldn't receive anything that would lead to the next impulse. In these last 3 days, we've been revelling in a very "dropped" place, for me a softened place of becoming a kind of sponge that can hold all my creative resources and energy while still able to absorb and soak up Susanna's to better play with her, merge and unmerge, join or contrast, but always stay in relation. It's a delicate place but one of such strength. It is a delicious challenge to stay in the unknown and breathe through it, trusting that something will emerge. In fact, it just takes noticing it, and we realize that the next place to be has already emerged, we just need be in it to follow it. We've been finding that it is in the simplest and quietest places that we find the roots of our next impulse...and the longer we stay with the stillness and quietude, the more fruitful and lush the next place will be to visit.

We improvised for an hour straight today and just about burned ourselves out. It's a special kind of exhaustion, one of mind more than body. An exhaustion of the imagination.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Frying Pan Post - Susanna, January 19, 2011

Just before we took a break for the holidays, we invited Linda Rabin into the studio to witness our work. This was so illuminating! Just getting used to grappling with the unknown in front of someone who's opinion we respect is humbling and a cue that we need to do more of it in preparation.

But the thing that has really stayed with me was her insight into our approach. It's really true that at a certain point, all the tools you practice really are only tools. Without leaving space for the chemistry to ignite between us, it remains an exercise, and actually from the inside, the holding on to those tools makes it deadly.

Listening... really listening to Sarah. Entering right into the cells of what she's offering. Acknowledging our inherent energetic differences and traveling fully together from the vibration that is essentially hers to mine and back. It's an incredibly volatile and exhilarating roller-coaster ride. Our first first couple of encounters with this new tack were hypnotic, almost drug-like.

Of course today the drug started to wear off a bit... to be expected. Can't hold on to even that. And some of our accumulated struggles and questions resurfaced. And now some new ones as well. For instance, I seem now to be having an aversion to any of the language-sharing play that had become a staple in our work. And what is this new experience of "dropped" (our term for reducing the intensity and being more "normal" - just Susanna and Sarah meeting)? It seems intangible, especially in those moments when I fall off the wave.

That old familiar friend and wrench-thrower, second-guessing.

I think that's all I have to say for now to start.
But, seeing as this blog is beginning far into the conversation, I'll just list a couple of points that have come up over the last few months.

Maybe Sarah or I will have more to say on these:

- the essential difference between composing and improvising - I've changed my view-point on this considerably through this process. I used to be someone who called improvising "instant composition". I am no longer of that mind now through this experience. An essential element of composing is the outside view and editing from that outside view. Taking that outside view within an improvisation is antithetical to the act of improvising. And this also relates to how we witness improvisation. I'll say more on all this later.

- being "dropped" vs. being "extreme" or "performative"

- how much of a score is necessary? what makes this performance a qualifiable entity when it is never the same?

10-4 till soon,

Frying Pan Conversations

Hello dear readers,

After too long a hiatus, I am re-animating this blog to provide a window into the creative process for "The Frying Pan's Too Wide".

At the heart of a shared-evening of performance by the same name (which will run at Tangente in Montreal from Feb 18 - 27, Montreal choreographer Sarah Bild and I are engaged in the ongoing creation and recreation of an improvised duet called "The Frying Pan's Too Wide". We began this process about two years ago, simply meeting to follow our desire to develop a practice of improvising together inspired by our shared studies in Ruth Zaporah's Action Theatre.

This practice has developed into a very loosely scored improvised performance, with several performance incarnations along the way. Over the past five months our work has evolved into a swaying dance of continually straying from and returning with fresh eyes to the Action Theatre work, becoming a practice and view-point all onto itself.

The simplest core of the work that's been developing seems to be the history of our meeting in a studio consistently over time to play, wrestle, converse, laugh, question, and work. Our questioning conversation is physical, but inevitably it leads us back to language, and this is what we'd like to share over the next month on this blog as we head into the final stretch.

By noting some of the things that arise, confound, and delight us in the studio, we will continue our conversation on-line. Please feel free to listen in and join the conversation if you so desire.

We're hoping that our on-line conversation will provide some entry points to those of you who can eventually join us in the theatre.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Land of snow

Alright. Well, I obviously didn't write again with pictures "in a couple of days", but such is life when life is actually happening. I still don't have pictures ready for upload, but they are coming soon... they are mostly in H's camera and he is back in Berlin now, but has promised me a CD in the mail and then I will share with you.

I am no longer in Iceland, though not in Toronto either, but in a displaced-limbo of cancelled flights in Boston at the closest and cheapest Comfort Inn to the airport, eating my Dunkin Donughts flat-bread and making use of the free internet while I keep checking the status of my continuously delayed flight. As long as it's not cancelled like last night, I'm fine. Really ready to be in my own bed again.

But, looking on the brighter side, it gives me a chance to finish off my missives about this trip before it's fully over. And, as I write, I am able to enjoy some of the Icelandic music I acquired at a fantastic store in Reykjavik (12 Tonar... very friendly/knowledgable guys with cozy sitting/listening area and free espresso) in my last couple of days in Scandanavia. Right now I am listening to Skúli Sverrisson's newest CD and it is a real treat!

So, some snapshots of my last couple of weeks.

Just after my last missive, the group of us went on a 24hr. trip which was supposed to take us first to the natural hot spring in Mivatn, followed by a trip to the Phallic Museum, and ending up in Hóllar (via Sauderkroker) to visit my new American marine biologist friend P. who I met on my initial flight. The road to Mivatn/Phallic Museum was closed on the day, so instead we took a more meandering trip towards Hóllar, stopping in a small town named something like the English version of Warm Mountain to eat bad truck-stop food and buy some very expensive but beautiful knit-wear (which I have worn almost every day since then). H and I also took a walk into the blowing snow while there, out into the vast drifty field and up the road. The trip as a whole was stunning! White on white on white like I've never experienced before, with hairy ponies dotting in black and brown and the shapes of magnificent mountains emerging from the silence of white. I really DO need to include some pictures because I don't think I could ever do it justice in a description here. In Sauderkroker, I walked along the black sand, the sea rushing in and out and red-stained rocks filling my pockets, my hands FREEZING! We were shown the well-worn room where the local community theatre company works and performs, and sat in on a Lutheran church service.... I was happy that though my comprehension of the language is non-existant, my ability to begin to know how to pronounce it phonetically allowed me to sing along in the hymns.

Then Hóllar as the dark began falling.... nearly engulphing our small cars stuck for a moment on the snow-laden road. A walk in the moonlight through the forest, snow up to our knees (and higher when we left the path and stumbled across rolling country, dodging (more or less successfully) the subtle signs of small water-ways. P. fed us a fantastic meal of some or the morning specimens of Arctic Char and we took up our various places on her geothermally heated floor, ready to drive back in the dark of early morning. Again, mountains and sea and the distant lights of a town waking emerging from the hug of midnight blue and the moon illuminating a moment here and there of a cliff face or a wave. There is awe emanating from this land, or at least the space between me and it. And as I listen to the music that I was introduced to, I can hear the dense, magical, expanse of it. A place, a place, a place.... how a place can open your heart in the quietest fanfare of inarticulation.
These moments of eyes peeled to the window have been some of my most memorable.

Back at work, we began finding a way to share the space together and also to choose what we would show on our own. I got a chance to share some ways into moving and improvising together, which was one of the most satisfying parts of the process for me, though it didn't last long. Overall, the work for me posed more questions than it answered my desires, and I think I need to think on this more and articulate it to those involved before I publish any of it for the whole world. But questions are also good. Even dissatisfaction is good if you keep awake to it. As H. quoted to me from michael moorcock, "You learn
to live and invite experience" and then went on to say himself: "such sentences are sort of valuable to me. for... I can embrace the experience as I would a thought." So the short story to all this is that I discovered a fun meeting with H. and video, editing some of my own stuff, and we all showed what we had which was various in tone and theme and form to a house of about 20 people, and there is more to think about and discuss before the project continues.

In our last week, we DID make it to Mivatn with the larger theatre company and an official Þoribild meal of sheep head and rotten shark once again. I wasn't as enthusiastic this time.... partly cause the sheep heads were cold and well, though an interesting adventure in eating, it's not really my thing. Mivatn... sulfer pools with unexpected hot spots of burning water in a dark and stormy wind knifing my forehead, hair sculptures frozen instantly out of the water, bare-skinned snow angels followed by a dive, a blinding mist at eye level and more floating and falling upwards into the clear starry night.
Alright. I have now made it to the airport and it looks like my flight might be the first of the day that makes it to T.O.
And I continue my snapshots:

In our last weekend, I discovered a river behind where we were living.... always so focussed on the icy trip down the hill to work, I had completely missed this! Huge icicles hanging from the rock-faced sides. And a series of pony pathways that curved and stretched out interminably over the countryside towards the mountains, and which I never had a chance to return to as I had planned. But they made a good setting for practicing my blend of blues-singing with a one-person attempt at inuit wailing and throat singing ( I only dane to call it that in order to give you a sense of the vocal landscape, but I would hardly call it more than a culturally-appropriated, surface-level bash at a kind of sound). I ended up using this in my presentation, though it never felt as satisfying as when I was walking in the open air. I remember reading somewhere that walking through the icy landscapes was a favorite practicing/inspiration spot for Björk, and I can see why. And well that's probably my only pseudo Björk moment of Iceland.

H. and I did another in-the-pool-with-clothes-on video shoot to quite an audience this time. Many more shared meals.... it's really amazing what you can concoct with frozen vegetables, soup mixes, fish balls and such. And the snow decided to really hit us in the last week, making the trek down to work of thigh-level snow over sheer ice truly a trek. It got so heavy on the roof of the theatre that an avalanche fell onto A. when she stepped out for a smoke after the show.

P. came to stay with us on the last friday in Akureyri and to see the show, and I finally met the only dancer in town (unfortunately on the last day) besparkled in pink glitter eye-shadow and hot pink flowers on her head. I wish that there had been more of an opportunity to meet people prior to our event... but it seems that that's what brings you in to contact when from away. We finished the evening at one of the local bars listening to two of the actors from the larger company singing show-tunes.... something really lovely about hearing selections from "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Hair" (not to mention a rendition of "Careless whisper") in Icelandic. And H. and I had another chance to dance till we scared people.

And after all the cleaning and repacking of so many books I never even touched, we flew to Reykjavik. J and Mr. X left that day, but H. and I had a day and a half to explore aimlessly (what a treat after the last month!) before he took off for Berlin. Up the tower of the very dominant church in the centre of the old town (whose organ I am now listening to in the work of Kippi Kaninus as I write) to see the ocean and icy cliffs stretching out at the edge of the old town. Finally! a bar and coffee shop with a lived-in feeling and that ease that makes you want to hang out and write all afternoon or evening. Our first dinner became doritos and wine, sitting at the bar of Þrikid, dissecting the last month, and our conflicting layers of thought around humans, nature, and the possible missed-mark of art-making. I will really miss these conversations as well as the many hours of making up silly songs or rehashing favorites. The gem and saving grace of this time has really been the friendships built with H. and J. especially... although the last couple of days in Reykjavik also gave me a chance to know A. better and meet her family.

My last two days in Iceland were a flurry of running around and meeting people... it's amazing how you can hook into a whole scene pretty quickly (at least on a surface initial contact level) when you put your mind to it. And so maybe I will get a chance to come back on my own steam... we'll see. Certainly one of the great pleasures of this was getting sent in the direction of 12 Tonar. And the thought of making some sort of connection with the music folk here is exciting. Tastes of Skúli Sverrisson, Kippi Kaninus, Hildur Guđnadóttir, Kira Kira, Amina, Mr. Silla and Mongoose, Represensitive Man, etc. I would recommend to anyone. Along with the CD that has been etched into me through H. of Jenny Wilson. It is so good to get back to listening.

A surreal last morning at the Blue Lagoon on my way to the airport. They have this very smart excursion that allows you to soak in the natural hot springs for a couple of hours on the way to catching your flight.... a little more $$, but hell, everything is so $%#^%$^&$&^ expensive, that it's so WHY-NOT worth it! This time in daylight, surrounded by white mountains, steam obscuring even someone a few feet away, and warm milky white-blue water. White mud in small vats along the edge or which, as I discovered, you can scrape off the ground surface in big globs and rub all over your face as a mask. I got enthusiastic and spread it all through my hair as well, slipped out of my bathing suit, shrouded by the white water and floated as if in vacuumed space. The sense of physically-palpable silence is really pervasive.... maybe that's what makes room for all these sounds. A white snow-ice blanket of winter, pierced by brilliant light and bled-into by darkness... ominous silence and the space of potential. This maybe best describes my experience of the land. Though the moments were brief in the bigger picture of most of my preoccupation, they were obviously impactful.

And then, a flight into light for 6 hours, and the subsequent limbo of waiting to get home.... and I've just found out my flight has been delayed further!

It's been a time of groundlessness in a certain way, making me need to resource my own ground in new ways and old ways that I often forget about. Man, I'm waxing philosophic, now... maybe it's the music. I think I need a snack and maybe a crappy magazine.

I will post the pictures as soon as I can.
Thanks for joining me.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Land of Ice - 2

It's Saturday afternoon and I have let myself sleep in. Today we are apparently hitting some art openings and some of us are going to check out the local night-life. What I am really looking forward to, though, is a car trip we plan on taking tomorrow through Sunday night which will include a trip to some extinct volcanic ground, the northern lagoons, a visit to the phallus museum (bizarre, eh?) and then a trip to a small town named Holar to visit a friend I made on the plane over here..... P., a marine biologist who just moved here to do her PhD.

I have received quite a few requests for pictures. So just to let you know, after this trip we take on Sunday I'm going to get H. to help me figure out how to upload some images..... there should be a good selection come Monday or Tues.

But in the meantime, let me fill you in on the last couple of days. One of the most spectacular events happened on Thursday night. Leaking and dancing out of the mountain summit just behind where I'm living was a cool green display of the Northern Lights. H. and J. discovered them on a walk home from a late-night snack run and called me out in my pajamas. We stood in shivering silence, moved to Oo's Ah's and Oh!'s as a faint stream projecting out in a long line, barely visible would begin to ignite and sway and spark, widening and bursting new flames, to eventually subdue again and build up for the next blaze. So simple and so enrapturing! The colder and clearer it is, the better they will get, and I think we may have a shot at more of the same and perhaps even more spectacular this weekend.

It really augments my desire to get out more into the land. As my friend N. from back home pointed out on the phone last night, Iceland has a similarity to Canada in the way that it's culture is largely in the land itself, and so while here I need to find as many ways to get out into it as possible. Prohibitive costs has made this a bit difficult, but I think the feeling is quite mutual especially between H., J. and I that somehow we need to make this happen anyway. So, I look forward to telling you about our first big excursion tomorrow.

Yesterday, we came to the end of our second week in the theatre. Fridays are a day when we "show" where we are to the rest of the group. It's not really about re-doing something worked on, more opening each of our rehearsal processes to the group. There's been a lot of swimming in the soup, and it's been curious to see how the insecurity of not really knowing where we're going or what we're each here to do hits different people at different times. The epitome of this yesterday was H.'s presentation of having nothing to show, so he brought in an onion cake that he baked based on him mother's recipe (in the spirit of "why am I here" and that at it's essence referring back to his Mom). We also showed some very silly video-footage of the three "hunch-backs of Akureyri".... something that developed out of walk up a very slippery hill a few days ago and then blossomed into late-night silliness up at the army-barracks..... J., H. and I have certainly bonded in our seclusion up here.

In general, life is much more all-the-time social here than usual for me. It is both comforting and sometimes overwhelming, being often a bit of a loner in my life at home. But it also seems like an important survival mechanism when in unknown territory, and something I'm sure to miss when I come back home. The lines of work and living seem completely blurred, which makes it hard to tell when I or even if I have shut off the work-mode. I finally returned to meditating this morning, and that feels like a good thing in terms of negotiating that line.

I don't really know what to say about my own process. As usual, it feels like many stabs in the dark. I'm glad I've got my video camera, so that I can see that something is actually happening. I am allowing myself to follow whims that I might not usually, like including as part of my research visiting a group of scientists at the Institute of Arctic Studies or taking underwater shots of swimming fully-clothed in the pool. There is apparently a character I'm moving towards creating, though the full shape of what that actually means to me, is not apparent yet. I have a lot of unanswered questions about how the arctic experience of Iceland relates at all to the experience of the Canadian arctic.... mostly on a social level. There are no indigenous people here. One could almost call Icelanders a first nation people. I realize that when I think of the Canadian north, there is the whole notion of "the other" and the ways both now and historically that we deal or don't deal with that and all the ensuing repercussions. There really aren't those kind of issues here, it seems. In a way, these scientists are still voyeurs of the Arctic. And well, it really makes me wonder how we define "Arctic". They claim to be the success story of the Arctic, but perhaps as C. (or he now wants to be referred to as Mr. X) would say, they only have Arctic-envy.

All the more reason, it seems, to go out on the land. The land, in general and especially in Canada, has always been a feeding source for my soul. I'm not sure exactly how it figures into my work, but perhaps it's something unseen but necessary. Somehow my feeling here is that it is a missing piece of information in what we do here. It doesn't interpret. It just is.

More soon with pictures!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In the land of Ice - 1

I have been in Akureyri, Iceland for one week and a day now, working on the development of a new piece of theatre.... not my own project, but we are all creative collaborators. I just want to say a couple of words about a rule of etiquette that I've decided to employ in the keeping of this blog during my time here, which is that I am going to refer to all people by the initial of their first name only, for the sake of privacy. I have had so many back and forths in my head about even keeping a blog, it being so public for any personal thoughts. And even if I don't say everything here, there will of course be something personal to it, especially in the kind of close quarters I'm in here. So this is my compromise.
As always seems to be the case, so very much can transpire in just a few days (let alone a day) when immersed in a new place and a new experience, so I'm sure there are many things I'm going to miss, and of course, as I always do, I can say that I'm going to try to keep this up closer to daily.... but well, as you can see by my previous entries, that's not likely to be likely....

Ok. Enough apologies, let's get on with it (or as H. would say in his German loving-mocking of Americans "Let's do this!) shall we?

Now contrary to what I told many people before leaving, and contrary to what I had been preparing myself for, Iceland is NOT in 24hr. darkness, though it IS quite dark for large portion of any day. Just around 10am the sky begins to change noticeably and become a rich dark blue, and by 11am on a clear day (like this morning as I lay in one of the hot pots at the local pool, staring at the sky) it's quite clear crystal. That can last till somewhere around 3pm, although it can begin to get a bit grey, and, on a day like today when the snow is falling in thick juicy flakes the sun is barely visible in the whited out distance between me and the snow-covered mountains across the fjord. By 5:30pm, which is what it is as I write this, it's dark.... well, probably was pretty close by 4:30 and it will stay like this till tomorrow morning at 10am when the shift begins again.

This situation makes the daylight hours precious, especially as it is stunningly beautiful when you can see it. Standing at any height I can catch glimpses of the open sea at the end of the fjord and everything is blue and white and grey and when the sun really hits, it sometimes cuts the tops of some of the cliffs with cutting brilliant slashes. Scrub is considered forest here, as there are so few trees, so much of what I see is open white with the occasional squiggle of black. I find myself fascinated with the horizon line, or more precisely the line where the mountains' summit edge meets the sky. The story of this line changes from moment to moment as the light changes especially as we move into the later hours of day-light. I have managed to catch a couple of especially magical moments, like when leaving the library a few evenings ago right at 5pm and the summit line across the fjord was glowing purple into the darkening blue in such a way as to blur the precision of the meeting line altogether, giving the impression that the mountain's summit was melting into electric purple light.

We have mountains on both sides of us and water in the middle. J., H. and I are all living about a 20min walk up a slope from the theatre where we're working downtown by the water. To be honest, much of Akureyri itself is not that picturesque. Quite sterile feeling (even by Scandinavian standards - in that IKEA everything new and streamlined kind of way - man that sounds really arrogant, eh? anyway....) and the part of town we are living is the closest to what I imagine an army-barracks to look like. This is accentuated by the fact that my rehearsals are generally first thing in the morning and, since I've found that one of my necessary anchors in being here is to go to the gym prior to that, I leave the house at around 7:30am shlepping everything I'll need for the day: computer - only wireless is downtown; lunch - did I mention how #%#%&&%# expensive it is here?! like $7 for a cup of coffee!!; my rehearsal/gym clothes/shoes/books, etc.... Everything is quite a walk in general. There are free buses here, though they never seem to come by when I'm walking. I feel some comradship (at least imagined) with the local working folk and school kids as we walk down the dark streets in the early morning. I get the sense, though that it's not something that is really an issue here. I guess if you always experience the morning as darkness, you're not missing anything. As I walk through the dark, I'm greeted by the giant billboard of a smiling boy eating a hot dog. C. pointed this out as a casual joke to me on my first night, and at the time I didn't realize how much this image is now imprinted in my brain.

The working process itself is elusive to talk about. At this point we are still all working separately, and to be honest I had some insecurity to get over at the beginning (now I think I've come closer to just accepting it and riding with the enigmatic punches) being the only "dancer" in the lot in the creation of a piece of theatre where I'm needing to generate my own material.... well we all are. We came here around the theme of "Night" and this can be pretty wide and variable. Added to that, the nature of being in a strange place, in close quarters with new people really begins to blur the lines between work and just living. And the open questions about what we're making can lead to many complex discussions that are undoubtably infused with just who we are as people and how we cope with a certain kind of insecurity that's inherent in this kind of situation. What it does, in a way, is create this little hybrid community for this particular time, and the other day I realized that I have actually created anchors out of the very strangers whose newness underlined my insecurities in the first few jet-lagged days.

Speaking of jet-lag and sleep disruption, I am sorry to report to my friends that being in a night environment has not turned me into a reformed insomniac. Sleep, in general, is a strange experience for all of us. It seems a common experience for all of us new to this time-zone is to wake up several times in the night or not to be able to sleep until late (or early) into the night.... even H. who's only an hour different.

Another luxurious staple to my day is the pool. Now, to say "the pool" really doesn't begin to describe the breadth of this experience. Iceland, as you may know is volcanic ground. You gotta love that ice and fire can live in such close proximity! So there are geothermal pools galor. Some in a more "natural" setting like the blue lagoon outside of Reykjavik, but pretty much every town has a local outdoor pool which is made up several different temperatures and depths of pools and a steam-room. The coolest water (which is still warm enough to be in in below-zero weather) is the laps pool and it has been cooled rather than warmed in order to make it swimmable. The hottest "hot pot" is 43 degrees celsius. I was brought to the pool on my very first jet-lagged night and was treated to a magical site. Swimming on my back (and later floating in the kiddie pool) looking up at the black sky, steam rising off the water, my body warm, my face and arms touching the cool air and snow falling, swirling and landing in gentle cold kisses on my exposed skin. I don't think I will ever forget this. This is my daily pleasure and seems to be so for much of the towns-people.

It has been hard to meet many people here at any depth, what with the language (although many people speak english, at least a bit), the fact that though friendly there is a bit of a reserved quality to folks, and the fact that the expense of everything makes going "out" prohibitive, even for the locals. I think tonight, though, that we are planning to go to some quiz-competition night at one of the local cafes. My third night was my closest experience to Icelandic social culture thus far. We were invited by one of the local set designers for a meal of traditional Icelandic delicacies: seared sheep's head and sheep head meat in various other forms from pate to pickled, pickled sheep testicles, sheep blood sausage and various types of breads (including one that is cooked through a process of boiling). And I tried everything, I'm proud to say.... even the eye-ball! I figure I'm here, right. And really the sheep's head, though it looks daunting is quite tasty... especially the cheek and the tounge.... much like a good lamb shank in quality and taste.

We have had one quite sad experience since coming here which has impacted us all as well as the project, even from the point of view of direction. The team was to be comprised of the director C., myself and J. all from southern Canada, two Icelandic actors who are D. and A (though she has just joined us), filmmaker H. from Berlin, and two Inuit actors (one who couldn't be here) and L. It was quite a complicated feat to get L. here, and sadly he has had to go back home as of Monday. It was an issue of alcohol and addiction and the demons that those things unearth. I have not quite processed all this. It's hard to, when you realize that there is a core place in this that I can try to understand but which I really can't even begin to know. It's impossible for these events not to send a rippling wave through our work. After all, we are here (and next year in the Canadian north) to explore and experience something about what it is to live in the darkness and the cultures that do so. I feel woken up to how little I know of the reality of a part of life in my own country. Even saying it like that seems so trite. I don't know how much I feel able to express here, but to say that it has woven a thread to almost any conversation I've had with my colleagues and it certainly infuses our work in the studio. And I think now that, completely regardless of where this project ends up going as a piece of performance, that I want to be able to follow it into the Canadian North next year.

I guess in general I am facing my own ignorance in so many things in my meetings with my compatriots here. And I want to underline here that I am not seeing that as a condemnation to myself. I've played that song over and over in my head for far too much of my life. And certainly in the jostling of the first days of adjustment I started striking up the tune again. But in the last few days I realize that I am somehow finding a way to let myself sit in the discomfort of it and actually get the briefest glimpse of the possibility that this could actually be a good place to be. But/And it makes me have to begin thinking "Well, what are you gonna do about it?"

I think that's a longer view question/exploration. But in the meantime, I give into the unpredictable nature of working/being here.... come up against various degrees of needing or being able to control, and go on.

I am in my Iceland reality, which is specific to this time, these people, this landscape and my meeting with them all in this time. And there are some incredibly joyful parts of it, like finding H. to sing cheesy songs both existing and becoming at every occasion, sharing meals nightly, and having some intimate breath-sharing moments with the very hairy, small horses that litter the landscape.

More soon.
My love to all my friends and greetings to whoever else is reading this.

Bles Bles!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

long time away... time to come home

Home? Well, I don't know if it this home, but lying on my couch having succumbed to the last in a series of "deadly" onslaughts (exhaustion, depression, a yucky lung infection cold/flu-type thing), I'm feeling like it's time to take up the blog torch and run with it again.... or walking gently might be a more accurate description.

Perhaps it's a bit of the "new year's" thing coming over me. And on that note and the one above, I think this is probably a year of learning to walk a little more gently as opposed to running full steam ahead, possibly trampling some flowers and many good intentions along the way.

How to be humane? How to be human... both in my own little garden and out in the bigger one that seems to be simultaneously wilting and blooming. This is a terrifyingly potent time to be alive, and personally I'm finding I need to give the quiteness and stillness a chance so as to meet the world with an open heart. and the more I think about this world and all the amazing lives on it, the more I think an open heart has got to be at the core of what I give.

So, in the spirit of walking gently, I'm going to cut this short. perhaps that way I'll actually give myself a chance to do this more frequently.

Here's some stuff I've been looking at and would recomend. It's not all happy-fuzzy-warm-and cuddly, but in some cases it gives me hope, and in all cases makes me think, from somewhere a bit deeper than just my poor ol' brain which can sometimes get lonely away up there in my head.

book: "When things fall apart" by Pema Chodron
images site :
movie: "Children of Men"
artist: Neo Rauch
movie: "Songs from the Second Floor"
book: "The Empty Space" by Peter Brook
plays: "Sara Kane, Complete Plays"
books: "Weight" and "Lighthouse Keeping" by Jeanette Winterson
book: "Wisdom of the Body Moving, An introduction to Body-Mind Centering" by Linda Hartley
environment site:,,1267004,00.html

In this coming new year, I wish you all peace, joy, and love all in the largest and quietest sense.


Monday, February 27, 2006


I have to re-begin this by saying that I have just written for the last 40 minutes and lost everything that I wrote.... This is a common frustration, and one that, in the most positive light I can spin, gives real tangible meaning to the impermanence of everything.
So, I will begin again and try not to mourn too much what is now gone.
I am writing this from my bed in Toronto. It is Saturday morning the 25th of Feb. and it is now 5:40am (was 5am when I first began)..... This is a secret. Most people think I am not back until Monday the 27th and I am keeping it that way, having returned on Wed. (5 days early) specifically to re-adjust without the pressures of work and demands squashing me immediately.

Ah, tiredness is beginning to set in again, and I'm not sure if I'm up for this re-composition, but I will try because the reason I had wanted to write this specifically is to track a bit the crazy whirlwind journey of re-entry herself especially when in combination with jet-lag.
I thought I had escaped them.... ah but that was just part of their evil plan to send me through hoola hoops of emotional gymnastics.

I have been reading Carlos Castenada's account of his time with don Juan, learning the ways of mescalito, devil's weed, and little smoke and I can't help but think that this current state I am in is also an entity.

And so I shall give her a name: re-entrada jet-laggeenish.

Not very imaginative, I know, but after all it is pre-dawn and as objective as I am attempting to be, I am very much under her spell.

This early return kept a secret is a new thing for me... creating concrete boundaries of time and space to give room to needs that have nothing to do with never-ending demands of schedule. This need for space is actually incredibly human and every-day, I am discovering. I feel like I have been fooled into believing that it is a luxury one cannot possibly afford or claim..... I'm learning, though.

Much like I am learning that taking the time to really indulge in the pleasure and sensuality of basic home things (like cooking a really good meal and making sure there's wine in the house) is more of a personal necessity than I had ever imagined or bought into. This comes partly from being incredibly inspired by staying in the homes of some very good cooks in the latter part of my journey. And now along with some other delicious bits, this inspiration is still floating quite strongly in my imagination.

Funny that, how I always come home feeling so renewed and committed and brimming with the huge possible... and then there is that awkward adjustment of trying to integrate these free floating ideas with the seemingly solid gravity of my everyday set-in-its-ways life that has been here waiting for me... heavy concrete blocks grumbling and ready to pounce.

Now of course, some of this dark view is just re-entrada jet-laggeenish, and this is precisely why I am writing... to catch her at her tricks. But, that being said, there is some truth to the experience of the formless dream putting on her gravity boots and trying to assume her shape in the "real world". It's a bit heart-breaking,no? As she struggles to fit in and those boots are much too big for her and no one smiles here...

And me, thinking that I had brilliantly evaded re-entrada.... enticed into thinking that I could spin away painlessly and get so many things done in this "extra" time. No, she will take her time and I will need to face the very every dayness of my own humanity.... what I had anticipated, and why I came back early in the first place: needing to rest and do nothing. why is that so hard?

ok. so let's do a bit of tracking here, and then I think I'm back off to bed for a little bit.

I arrive Wed. afternoon. Tired, but not unduly. My wonderful parents have come to escort me home. Quite ready to lay down, once here, my energy level does that weird second-wind spurt when I see Jasna, who has been staying at my house while I'm gone. Suddenly I am full of stories and I putter around unpacking. My one hour nap doesn't really pull me into sleep until it needs to end and then I'm out of the house doing some grocery shopping in order to cook the long awaited simple meal of kale, rice, and fish that I have been dreaming of for weeks now.... no bread, no extravagant sauce, and cooked and consumed in my own home listening to Johnny and Emre's Cd's, dancing in-between stirs. Then off to hear Joanne Brakeen at the Montreal Bistro with my Dad until a fit of yawns sends me back home. She was fantastic, though.

And then a fairly uninterrupted sleep of 9 hours! I wake, feeling rejuvanated and convinced that I have single-handedly beaten re-entrada jet-laggeenish. I spaciously and confidently bite into my day, eating a leisurely breakfast, going for a much needed run, doing a luxurious shop at the st. lawrence market, getting my hair cut, going to mamo chants at the Shambhala centre, picking up some videos, preparing and sharing a lovely meal and bottle of wine with Jasna and going to bed very late......

"See, it's so easy! "I am fooled into thinking. I really AM super-woman. Think of how much I can get done in this extra time! I am fully and painlessly re-integrated into my "new" life and I will never feel a shred of doubt or fear again!

Really, it's kinda cute when I look now at myself in that spin. The delusion really comes out of an incredibly hopeful place.

But of course, I don't sleep so well that second night. Things move much more slowly in day two. I try to nap and all I do is get frustrated. I feel like I can't quite connect with anything or anyone.... common occurence in the land of not-enough-sleep. I try to make it to my friend Lisa's surprise birthday party and somehow I completely miss the boat (this moment feels strangely familiar to the dance roads curse of just- missed connections).

And now I am up again, and who knows how the day will go.... up and down and all over the place I'm sure. Tears and laughter, moments of really feeling my feet on the ground and the lingering sense of the huge possible right alongside moments of that strange despair that feels so real while you're in it.

To be honest, it's strange writing down all the highlights of the last few weeks. All these stories told in good humour are real. But they are just snap-shots. This unfolding emotional roller-coaster has been very much part of the landscape the whole time... not just the landscape of re-entrada. Very dark moments that would unbelievably resurface into hillarity, only to plummet again, leaving me very unsure of who or where I was. I did really long to come home for that reason. Longed to remember something tangible. Longed to rest.

Makes me wonder about the nature of home.
Yes, there is the very physical place full of all the stuff you want to run away from and then which you miss when you're gone.
But, I think I will just keep running until I actually move into that elastic home that travels with me everywhere.
I am really hoping that there is something of knowing how to begin making that move, that I have brought back with me from what, in a lot of ways, was a time of shaken expectations and upheaval. My suspicion is that shaken expectations, frustration, upheaval, groundlessness, were all disguises for growth. That is my hope.

And so I've got my eye on that hope....
I'm not looking at her too directly because she'll get self-conscious.
She's slowly slipping into her gravity boots right now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I have the most beautiful incling that she's got a good chance of making her place here.

whadaya know... the sun's coming up, and I'm going to try sleeping again.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

on my own

See, i kept my promise. Only 12 hours later and I'm back. A little sleepless but here.
I'm sure i will have many more things to say as time goes by, but I wanted to at least get down the basics.

So, first I'm going to cheat a bit because earlier on I had written an e-mail to the danceroads contingent detailing the beginnings of my time away and I think I'm just going to copy and paste that here, as it really says it all:

"I had a good long bus ride myself: from Cardiff to Birmingham and then
from Birmingham to Leeds. And when I wasn't chatting with people (which
I'll tell you about in a minute) I was also letting images and memories of
the last month drift in and out of focus as the countryside whizzed by.

I thought of our first meal together (although Emre wasn't there that
night).... how polite we all were, but now looking back I can recognize
the small glimpses given into the eventual personalities that I would get
to know. Dusan spilling his beer and blushing, Freida fishing the ice
cubes out of her water, Gareth and Meg admiring my large beer and
re-ordering for themselves, Nilan and I squabbling over menu items, Gian
so so so enjoying his food, and Johnny sitting quietly at the end of the
table taking it all in.

Nilan, Freida and I dancing like crazy banshees at the Akron family
concert as Gian and Emre slowly got pulled in.... there are so many
images, and I feel so thankful and blessed that through everything we
really came together... this strange makeshift family... and it seems
strange now not to be able to sit and laugh about my day with all of
you... all of a sudden.

It occurs to me that there is mapping to be done just of our relationship
to each other... How our individual lines merge and weave and divert and
become thicker with retracing... a knot unfurling across the world now but
with this very tangible centre that exists in some place outside of
physical geography... or does it have a home? if we placed the map of each
of our cities on top of each other would the our individual lines weave
themselves into a knot.... floating, invisible, internal like veins and
arteries... essential.

ok, I'm getting kind of nostalgic... but I do think it's a potent image
and it feels true to me.... you feel under my skin.

It seems strange now that you never came to Nilan and my city. That I was
never able to invite you into my home. When I get back I think I will need
to throw a virtual party for you all... take you to the parts of my city
that resonate for me, like the redpath sugar factory down on the lake
shore that smells of raw sugar and has mountains of sugar that you can see
through the warehouse door. Like cherry beach, where I go to clear my
head. Like our island... small oasis from concrete. Like the grit of
Kensington market, the swing that someone built down a dark alley, like
the upright base someone made by drilling stings into a lamp-post, like
the smell of china town where if you're lucky you can find a piece of
chopped-up fish with it's heart still beating (sorry Ga and Meg), like the
field of cow sculptures in the middle of the business district.

Another time....

Anyway, my day.
I met three very distinct and chatty people on my travels.
On the first bus trip, I sat next to Ivor. Ivor is probably about 65 or
70. He is retired from the telecommunications business. He was travelling
with his with Margery to visit their daughter and grandchidren. Among
other things, Ivor really likes the new "Billy Elliot" musical.... he
highly recomends it. He was recovering from a feeding frenzy at this
restaurant in Newport (where he lives) where they have a "10 on the 10th"
policy: the 10th of every month you can get 10 desserts for the price of
one. Mind you, only one person in the history of this tradition has ever
actually eaten 10 desserts. Ivor only had two, and still he didn't sleep
so well last night. He thinks I should go into acting and he's going to
try to promote me in Newport.

Then in the Birmingham bus station, I sat down next to Hughie who just
launched right into a conversation like we'd known each other for ever.
Hughie is a Scott, although he doesn't live there anymore. He was heading
for North Wales because ten years ago he took up running races and there's
a race there this weekend. Keep in mind that Hughie is at least 70 years
old. He was a soldier when he was young, he danced highland dancing for
the Queen at Royal Albert's Hall, and he used to be a baker. He's a
pensioner now and is skeptical of the system. Sometimes he does volunteer
gardening. I had to lean in very close to hear him and his accent was
quite strong so there are many things that I missed, but nodded and smiled
and tried to follow as best I could. He carries a little note-pad that he
bought at a Pound store. It has the pop-up face of a bear on the cover and
he gets everyone he meets to sign it and to write "All the best Hughie,
keep running" and then put down the place that he met them. I gave him my
address so that he can send me some of his poetry.

Then on the bus to Leeds, I slept for a good two hours. When I woke,
Dillon asked me where my accent was from. Dillon is a thirty-year old
newly reformed drug dealer from Leeds. He has spent the last 8 months in
Wales in a rehab program and he has found Jesus. Now he's part of a
program to help turn people like him around and find God. He is quite
inspiring, really. Has completely turned his life around and really
believes in what he's saying. Whether or not you believe in God, you can
see that this experience has been profoundly positive and life altering
for him. When we arrived in Leeds he helped me figure out where I was
going and carried my bag to the taxi stand. He's staying with his Mum here
in Leeds. He asked me if I knew how special I am... made me think about
how we can all be, all ARE special. No more or less than each other....
but special non the less.

I got to my hotel.... the fucking poshest place I have ever stayed. WAY
over my budget, but I'm considering it a birthday present to myself. It's
strange not to have any of you down the hall. We could have a party in my
ultra-chick bathroom. The television screen said "Welcome Susanna" when I
entered the room!

I got myself all together for a night of schmoozing here at the festival.
Arrived at the theatre and it was truly overwhelming.... TEEMING with
obviously the whole UK dance who's who scene... of course I don't know who
any of them are so I had the freedom of this sort of strange anonymity. I
downed some wine and planted myself a still point and the centre of the
storm of networking fiends.

The show was not so good... fantastic dancers but just really a bunch of
dancy-shmancy stuff.... I'm realizing more and more what I want from
performance, and basically if it doesn't grab me by the balls or perhaps
the fica, then I just can't get that excited.

As coincidence would have it, the people I was set to meet from Birmingham
(but didn't know how in the middle of this mass) were sitting right beside
me in the theatre. Went out for an amazing indian dinner with these
Quebecois people who were also there in affiliation with Birmingham...
there are a lot of Canadians here and a bunch of NYC people too.

But then I got locked out of the big after festival party.... i didn't
have a pass and I got behind the people I was tagging with... so now after
a wander through the drunken streets of Leeds I'm back in my hotel.

Feel a bit like I missed the boat with the schmooze thing but part of me
doesn't care, although I have paid a pretty penny to get up here and
stay... ah well, the Dance Roads curse of shaken expectations
continues.... doesn't matter.... I feel that this tour has taught me a bit
about trusting that things happen as they do because that's how they're
meant to go... and if you keep your eyes open, eventually you'll see the
open doors and the reasons why.

I know I have lots to digest about this hazy-potent time we have shared...
it will continue to unwind and trickle its meaning till we meet again....
scattering threads spreading round the world and then spinning in together
once more..."

Ok. now we are back to me looking back and speaking from a distance.
I spent a second day in Leeds, discovered that it is home to the Henry Moore Institute so I wandered the streets and eventually found myself there, looking at art from the 50's by Brazillians protesting the regime. Also wandered around following a treasure map of window art installations hidden in unsuspecting places around the city. It was a rainy day and I spoke to almost no one save for the woman from whom I bought a cornish pasty. I holed myself up in my very expensive hotel room, watched some very bad tv for the first time in 5 weeks and ordered the most expensive fish and chips of my life as room service.... hey, I was about to turn 36 and figured I deserved a treat.

Next day, my birthday. And in Birmingham at that! Received all sorts of lovely e-mails which I could hold secretly to myself as I walked anonymously through my day. Met with the DanceXchange people who very generously gave me the scoop on all the people in the UK I should be contacting about touring, etc. (found out the party i missed was not really that much of an opportunity anyway) and saw a rather bad hip-hop rendition of Romeo and Juliet. Not the worst thing I've ever seen, by far, and I am quite amazed at people's physical ability.

Then, off to Dublin for a day.... the cheapest way for me to fly from Birmingham to Brussels was to fly to Dublin first, which gave me the perfect to excuse to visit my friend Sonia, her delightful Mum, and her two twin 7-year old daughters. So much joy pouring out of these two! Even when they woke me earlier than I would have liked, there was no way anyone could have stayed irritated..... they quite litterally laugh from the moment they wake till the moment they sleep. Everything is a game and there is pleasure in every crack in the sidewalk.... so good to be reminded of that!

Went to an art opening (sonia's a painter) and had what I was assured was my first Guinness (it being my first one in Ireland) in the company of her art friends. One in particular, who would just hate that I was writing this, has a site that I think is worth checking out:
Nevan is opperating at 100miles an hour at every moment of the day. He chastized me for not getting as drunk as everyone else and accused me of taking notes on the scene from my perch of sobriety. Well, he was sort of right.... although I honestly would never have been able to keep up with the drinking even if i'd been in any shape to do so. I won't say that much here, just that you should visit the site... it's a bit nuts to navigate, but it's worth it.

A talk with Sonia about this feeling of something creatively needing to break inside me got her egging me on to apply to the Irish Museum of Modern Art for a residency. We made a pact to be aggressively bitchy rather than regressively bitchy and I now have to hold to the commitment that one day a week I will devote to sound. I'll leave that ambiguous for now and we'll see what that means over time.

This vow came in perfect time for what was one of the true highlights of my time away: Brussels. And more specifically Brussels in the inspired company of Bob and Liz.

Bob is a composer that I met briefly when I was last in Brussels two years ago touring with John Oswald. He approached me after our show and invited me to come and do a wee bit of recording at his home studio. I was a little apprehensious at the time... I mean, who IS this guy, and why am going over to his house? (then again, based on pure instinct, I got into a car with Andy in Cardiff and drove 40 minutes out of town to a beach..... I may be too sure of myself, but thus far I have managed to distinguish the good leeds from potential serial killers).

Anyway, two years later, Bob sends me what he's done with what was a very casual recording session of me improvising with text that his parter Liz had wrtten. And this is the starting point for what I think will be a very exciting collaboration.

So I spent a few days in the home of these wonderful people. My own attic apartment. A great big kitchen in which Liz gave me my first bread-making lesson (made for foccacia...yummmy!), walks down old cannals, dinners in the homes of other friends, and lots and lots of talks with Bob about art and music and science, and comix... listening to what we'd created so far, dreaming, taking notes and doing another 5 hours of recording.... a little more focussed, but in the same spirit of exploration.

You know, I love this work. This work that doesn't feel like work. When I find myself in it, I'm almost always surprised at how not like work it feels. Of course it's not always like that. But when you're actually doing something that you love, even when it's incredibly challenging, there is some element, some quiet strain of pleasure to it. Then I think, "this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And I'm so lucky!" I felt this, too, when we actually got on stage during the tour. It's very affirming, and so clear. Just when you thought you were completely lost and unable to locate anything anymore.... there it is. There you are.

This time was very precious. I feel like I've made two very good new friends in both these people, and I feel quite committed to finding my way back there.

In general, even though there is much about the trip that needs still to come into focus for me, and I think this may take a few months, there is something about shaking up perspective that I can already see has been very valuable.

Seeing Meg Stuart's "Replacement" in Berlin.... seeing a wholly different aesthetic in general, of artists unapologetically taking up space and being given the space or taking the space to do so: Gob Squad, Ausland.... Just being somewhere else, surrounded by many different points of view and not being known. I feel like I need to "break my eye" as Claire would say in "Six feet under". And I feel hungry to do it. Not to smash everything that I've done before, but to allow myself to break it a bit..... nothing is so solid, nor should it be, I'm beginning to think.... as scary as that feels.

Perhaps to build, I need to break, too. Any structure needs spaces to breathe, as well as wild detours and surprises..... something to keep it always in a state of beginning on some level.... some level of inexperience, just learning.... I guess this is what they call "Beginner mind".

Anyway, with all this feeling of limitless potential I took myself off to Paris. Staying with one of my few friends for High School, Claude and her boyfriend Eric. Both artists: paint, video, word, and FOOD. Claude is gearing up to open her own cooking school, so we have feasted on duck and crepes and wine and cream and I am getting fatter and fatter. Paris is stunning as always, even on piss rain days.

After all this time, still have trouble with phone cards and figuring out country codes. Still have to look very closely at my money to distinguish how much change I am actually holding. But in a swing of travelling that has hit its stride, just as it's time to come home. But, yes, it IS time to come home.


Friday, February 24, 2006

ok so i'm a really bad blogger

Alright, so way too much time has gone by.
I am almost at the end of my trip and there are so very many things to report on, some of which are no longer so fresh in my head.
It has truly surprised me all along how dificult it's been to keep up with any sense of normal routine when changing geographical space so often. I have found when I have had moments where I could be writing, I have chosen instead to just let my mind wander.... so much new information to absorb and engage with.
Anyway, I did actually try to begin writing a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps I shall begin from those thoughts and then gab away on highlights from the last few weeks.

So, I actually spent a good deal of my time in Ljubljana writing the most complex grant of my life and dealing with the frustration of a 6 hour time-lag with my diligent adminsitrator, Katie, and the fact that small town Slovenia is not the easiest place to find an internet cafe at just any hour. This stress certainly flavoured my time there and I missed out on a day at the lake in the mountains.
Took a walk up to the castle (in the centre of the city on top of great big hill) and wandered through its underpinnings, befriending two hungry cats on the way the up. I have to say, I have never consistently eaten so much shwarma in my life.... it's the staple food of late nights and last-minute eating in strange lands.
So strange to realize that already three weeks on the road and our performance there was only our third. I think we were pretty well received, although someone did walk out.... I sort of consider that a compliment though... would rather provoke a strong negative response rather than no response at all. Hard to tell what other audience thought exactly because our one "talk back" session was momopolized by a very nervous presenter who gave a half hour monologue in Slovenian as we all wilted and waited to eat.
As a whole, it was odd and a bit discombobulating to perform so little with such large gaps between shows. Amazing to feel the instant sense of place and purpose when we find ourselves in the theatre. All of a sudden I would remember who I was again, making both tech rehearsal and show the least stressful moments of the trip... these little islands of gravity.

Trip from Ljubljana to Luxembourg
Ok. Now this was crazy... as was the trip from Luxembourg to Cardiff... although I think this first one takes the cake! Now, I highly recommend that before you read on you go get an atlas and look at the distance between these two places.

ok, brace yourself.... it took us 12 hours to make this journey:
at 7am we checked out of our lovely Cellica hostel, saying goodbye to nights of bad europop blasting up from the bar on the first floor and we all piled into two vans. I was in van # 1, driven by Igor (who had picked us up at the airport days before) with Emre, Johnny, Freide, Gianfranco, and Nilan. We drove to the airport in Venice... all along the way Nilan and I sang everything we could think of from Queen to traditional blues to "I want it that way". We stopped at the first gas station over the Italian border for a cappucino and to pick up the paper.... Gian reading for real and Freide and I phonetically reading every Italian word we could see, both inside and outside the car. Johnny kept quite quiet throughout... these long days were not favorites of his.
Then at the airport we all had to pay crazy extra luggage charges because Ryan air charges you for every extra thought you might carry on the plane with you.... great cheap way to fly if you're naked and you have no luggage.
So, flight to Brussels Charleroi airport, followed by bus to train station (belgian waffles quickly downed), followed by two trains to Luxembourg city, followed by mini-bus to Esch. Arrivel time: 7pm.

Luxembourg (well actually Esch sur Alzette)
Esch. What a strange and kind of unwelcoming place. Definitely a weird vibe, but pretty non-the-less. Here, I had the best room.... a double bed, my own bathroom with a bathtub! I elicited much envy.
Poor Johnny had to deal with yet another grumpy tech crew. In fact, the presenters had brought in a guy from Austria who had a way of making these guys actually work. This special power was due to the fact that years ago he had come there and threatened to physically beat them like they had never been beaten before... so now they're scared of him and they will actually do what he says.... which is to work.
Also encountered the biggest diva I have yet met. Gian, Freide and I thought it might be nice to finally have a real dance class, so we took the train into Lux. city (gotta say, I really love this taking the train thing... makes me get all dreamy and begin thinking that I could live in any small European town and commute into my fabulous quaint imaginary life in some slightly large small European town) - i digress - This class had been previously arranged and we thought it was all fine. Finally a real dance studio with heat and the promise of someone else making up the excercises... sometimes I so long to be a student again.... So, dude shows up ( I won't use his name, in fact I don't think I can remember it) and he gets in a huff because he doesn't think we said "hello" to him properly and he refuses to teach. Freide and I go to try and make peace and he starts moaning about how tired he is and how class for three people just really isn't worth it. Whe we press him a bit, he starts storming around and says "Well, you know, I do a really hard class! None of this yoga or releasing stuff... I teach really hard tendus!" (Can you fucking believe it? "Really hard tendus" - I was almost curious enough to beg him to teach the class, just to know what the hell a "really hard tendu" is.) But instead, we just told him that if he was really not into it, it probably was better that he not teach.
It took a good half hour to disperse the yukky energy in that room.
What else?
Went to see a great exhibit at the "Casino" gallery in Lux city called "Joy". Room filled to the top with green balloons, video of woman smashing car windows with the biggest smile on her face, an intricate system of tubes down which you could send marbles and follow the progress from the top floor back to the entrance.
Also, the city is divided by this huge gorge that you can walk down into and follow along a wooded walk-way.... a lazy day of wandering, laughing, whistling, and learning some very important german phrases: "Do bist ein poopooloch" (you are an asshole, said in the most sweetest of ways).
I have to stop here and say, that it's funny to write about the things that are possible to describe in words to someone who wasn't there. There are so many moments between, filled with the intimate silliness that begins to develop between people when you put them together for 5 weeks of consecutive days... things I could never really describe here well, but things that make up the fabric of friendship... like barking like dogs and purposely bumping into poles while walking down the street, like being able to thread your arm through that of anyone else's and pat each other on the belly. See, it doesn't translate that well, but these are the things that really give the sould wings.

Back to business... so of course we performed, and our night was full of kids who I had to scare out of laughing. Well, that's not really accurate, but there is something about dealing with nervous laughter as audience response that turns the fire on under my ass, filling me with an incredible performance energy bent on grabbing their attention. And they did come with us eventually.... they quieted right down, which is quite an amazing feeling.
Nilan and I gave our first full workshop together. Of course I felt like throwing up before we started, and these things are always a working experience, but I think people had a good time and Gian even came out to support us and to add a second male energy to the room.

Beautiful couscous dinner at Emre's home and off we were to Cardiff....

Another 12 hour journey (can you believe it? I think perhaps they wanted us to experience as many different modes of transpoartation as possible... surprised we didn't ride ponies part of the way): car to Lux city, bus to Frankfurt airport, 4 hour wait in Frankfurt airport (in which every one spent at least a few moments in the sex shop - the one real highlight of the airport - i discoverd toys I never knew about, like the vagina sucker), flight to Stanstead (with a bit of no-working-papers angst on the part of us Canadians.... but we went through smooth as silk), and then a 4 hour car ride from Johnny's amazing friend Felix who saved us from having to wait for a train that would have got us to our destination at 2am. Oh, and it was Gian's birthday.... happy 35 Pavarotti!

Caerdidd (welsh for Cardiff and pronouced kay-er-deeth)
I have to say, after Montreal, this was really the smoothest theatre experience we had. Wonderful crew, extra warm-up space, office where we could use the internet and just all around general good feeling.
An absolutely beautiful sunny day that I spent hijacking a very beautiful and lovely native who drove me out of town to sand dunes and beach.
Another day where Nilan and I did a whirlwind of London: meeting the cultural attache at the Canadain Consulate, checking out exhibits at both the ICA and the Tate Modern ( very cool installation by Martin Kippenberger of a room full of every different kind of chair you can imagine in a one-on-one meeting with other chairs..... there is an inspiring idea here that has not yet formulated inside me.... i love it when that happens), and then dinner in the west end with our friends Rose and Nick (LAL, toronto), eating delicious jerk chicken and sweet potato dessert. It's always good to reconnect with home in some way.
Of course in the middle of this one-day extravaganza I got incredibly grumpy and tired and in order not to continue to be the biggest passive bitch in the world, I threw a small tantrum outside the Tate and took Nilan up on his very generous offer to punch him two times in the stomach.... rattled a few Londoner passerbys.... felt kinda good. You know, sometimes you need to scream and stomp until you can't help laughing at yourself in order to be able to be a decent human being again. Thank god for a good friend who can understand and whether these diabolic moments of mine.
And then it was all over..... so fast all of a sudden. A great feast at Meg and Ga's, a last night of drinking and dancing and completely taking over the dance floor.... and then off into the world in our separate ways.
I will write more about this separte journey later... I promise, really really this time.... like tomorrow at the latest.


Thursday, January 26, 2006


Here I am. A first time blogger... feeling way way behind and a little unsure of myself.
The idea here was to track the current tour that Nilan and I are on: Dance Roads 2006 to Montreal, Berlin, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, and Cardiff.
As many of you know, we have been on the road for over two weeks already and I am now sitting in a cyber cafe in beautiful Ljubljana. I have received a couple of irrate e-mails from people who have been wanting to hear from me sooner here, so I will try to catch us up.
But because it's foremost on my mind, I will begin with where we are now.
We arrived in Ljubljana yesterday morning, learned how to say "please" (prosim) and thank you (hwvala) - probably not how either of these two things are actually spelled, changed our relatively small per diems from euros to Tollars ( 1 euro is equal to 250 tollars - so i am currently loaded, and spend thousands at the drop of a hat), and drove to our hostel which is part of a big anarchist sqat compound called Metalkova.
I almost forgot to mention that part of what makes Ljubljana so beautiful is that it is set in the midst of snow-capped mountains.... memories of the Canadian rockies and Lijang in China. Will definitely be hitting the mountains on our day off... going up to Lake Bled... how can you not love it?
It is also very cold here.... as in Berlin... arctic weather off the Russian Steppes is pursuing us on our journey, even beginning with the last two days in Montreal.
Anyway, I digress...
The hostel we are staying in is quite incredible. It is an old prison and each of the rooms has an inner door of prison cell bars and is also designed uniquely by an artist.
Swaped with Gareth and Meg (our Welsh contingent) because it felt a bit small for Ga.... although really all the cells are quite small. The swap was perfect for me because I was coveting their room from the moment I first saw it.
Painted blue like underwater
Bodies floating amoungst bits of paper maché and bits of sparkly glass
rays of blue and white glass tear drops inlaid in to the window frame that catch the sun's light
Leonard Cohen's "tower of song" swimming across the walls
and best of all....
a circular loft bed above with circular duvet, sheets and pillows to go along with..... truly a dream!
Of course these art-piece cells are missing some very basic comforts, like shelves, closet space, and sound proofing.... but I really don't mind.
And there's even a small mediation room at the end of the hall, with wood sitting blocks and shrine pieces for all the major religions.
Wandered the cobbled streets last night with our touring family that becomes a stronger unit daily. Pink sky reflecting on the facades of ornate old buildings. Ate at a true Slovenian-cuisine restaurant.... They are really into game meat here. In fact there's a whole section.... will have to go back for their mixed platter of wild boar, stag steak, venison and maharat-cherry sauce.
Supposed to be in the theatre today... a little delayed. Our dear Johnny (tech director) is dealing with a crew of stage techs who hadn't looked at any of our materials/requests ( so no lights up when we got there this morning) and also each of them has a specific job dealing with just one element and no one can trespass into another's job. John looked a little hairied when I left him and will need much kindness this evening, I think.

On a personal note, I am finding touring a strange world to adjust to, although now that the jet-lag has passed, I am finding my feet in it. It's like constantly being in transition. A truly liminal world, making it extremely challenging to keep any sense of focus on my other continuing reality at home. At first I found this unbearably frustrating and there were some "who am I? I'm so lost. I don't even know how to use a fucking phone. Oh wo is me... weep weep weep...." moments. I am flowing with it much better now. And as a group I think we are figuring out how to be both part of a unit and individuals.... breathing in and out of each other, laughing hysterically and singing and drinking into the wee hours and then retreating into quiet bubbles as we trundle through unfamiliar city streets together.

And there has been a lot of trundling through the streets.
I am now moving backwards to last week, in Berlin.
Quite a roller-coaster of an experience..... what became a predictably unpredictable unstructured structure.
And I would be lying not to say that there wasn't everyone's fair share of frustration and disapointment.... but.....
Let me go back to the beginning...
First off.... no show in Berlin. Frederike and I tried to get us something, somewhere informal, but it was far too late... though it was lovely to meet some of the people in small venues who weren't able to help us... this time. Also, one just can't predict how hard it's going to be to get what one would consider to be the simplest thing done in one's own city when in an unfamiliar city while jet-lagged. You kind of have to succumb to being like a child with no real influence on the world around you..... I had some very desperate encounters with my extremely strong-willed inner controle freak. As with anything, I eventually learn to let go into the chaos and then my sense of humour can kick in.... thank buddha for meditation and suzuki roshi for "zen mind, beginner mind"... not to mention my dear and faithful ally and friend Nilan.

Alright, back to the account...
So, we were all set up for a workshop with Daniel Belasco.... a visual/performance artist who works with GPS systems and who was going to lead us into the world of mapping (mapping our journeys through Berlin, through our memories, through our minds) as a starting point for creation.
And as fate would have it, on our first journey out into untypically snowy/icy Berlin, Daniel fell and broke his ankle and was in the hospital for the rest of our time, sending us letters when he could.
This event, this accident, the state of accident in general, became the theme for our time:

Accidents are frustrating, unpredictable, jarring, uncomfortable, but they drop you into the present in the most immediate way and they inevitably lead to the new, and ultimately this is good..... though I think it will still take me a couple of months on home turf to absorb and understand all the layers of this experience.

So we continued, and where we could we took the creative ball into our own hands. We met Heimo Lattner (one of the handful of artists that Daniel had wanted us to meet on our journeys) and he became our new guide for part of the time ( the other part of the time Heimo was busy expecting his first child at any moment).

As a little aside, if anyone of you reading this is in touch with Darren O'Donnel (or, Darren, if you are reading this) please tell him to check out the web-site for Heimo's main project of several years: I think there are some really interesting similarities with "Diplomatic Immunities" and plus Heimo is a fascinating and intelligent artist to get to know.

Alright, so Heimo, who bless his soul has a slightly warped interpretation of time and distance, lead us off daily through the sub-zero streets of Berlin past bits of the wall, no-man's land, artist squats, pointing out things and stories you would simply pass-by unawares without the very dry-humoured hand of a local artist.

To be honest, the cold often felt like torture, especially when just another 15 minutes turned into an hour, and there was more than one day when I couldn't move my fingers to lock the bathroom stall when we had finally arrived at a warm destination. But every evening ended in a cozy setting full of good food and lots of beer. And as we travelled through all of this, vascillating between fascination and bitching we actually became a group. And I think it became really apparent to us, just how much creativity is available and brewing between us.

ok. I have more to say (who knew), but I need to go back to the theatre to see if they have actually hung the lights enough to do a bit of something.

I promise to come back sooner.
To all those I love, you know who you are, I love and miss you.
To all those I haven't yet met, I hope this is all vaguely interesting or enlightening, and if not, well there are many other things of interest on the internet.

be you, it's always best