I think I'm returning

I realize that these posts are simply for me. They are proverbial breadcrumbs, and this one will be short and sweet. I've been thinking about my own ambition and how it interacts with my intuition, my path, and my feelings about myself. It's no secret that ambition is slippery. It's a bitch, actually...

Last year, I made the (bittersweet) decision to leave DDD, my beloved dance family. I had thought the only way to begin a new direction was to crisply leave the one I was on. And there's some truth to that. And that is how it happens for some folks. Folks I admire. But, if I honestly reflect on the experience(s) that have led me to now, I begin to notice that, for me, my desirous ambition (Capricornian need) has led me to situations that have needed some undoing whereas listening to my intuition, the world, the spirits, or whatever you want to call it has led me into serendipitous moments of being exactly where I've needed to be; that place/space/moment my ambition seems to overlook. 

At this moment, I am in Santa Ana working with a family/youth/dance/life organization called the Wooden Floor. I want to write everything about this program. I want everyone to know about the multi-directional love and support these folks have forged into their infrastructure, curriculum, and integrative programming. It is best and most fully understood by visiting them in CA, or second best, check them out here. I can tell you this much about being here- every day my heart actually tingles because of the students and staff of TWF. One moment, I'm reminded how fortunate I was to receive an outreach scholarship and never quit. I'm forever grateful for the scholarship that changed my life. The next moment, I'm looking at these students and thinking about how their lives will be forever changed by their experience at TWF, much like mine was changed through and by dance. Yet, these students aren't just receiving a scholarship. They are receiving a life that is supported holistically over an extended period of time... they are made a promise, one that is fulfilled. If only every person could experience this kind of deep education, I think we would have too many great leaders to be inspired by, great artists to learn from, and great people to live with. Can we even imagine too many people filled with greatness - love, hope, creativity, discernment, empathy, brilliance, generosity, boldness, humility....?

I get to feel this way and I get to be here because of a swift change in plans. I thought I left the path I was on to take on new directions. I am here with DDD working on David's behalf, but as myself doing my work alongside my family. This place and this moment are exactly what I didn't know I needed, where I didn't know I needed to be, doing what I didn't know I needed to do. I get to be here because serendipity was louder than ambition; my intuition, the world, the spirits, or whatever you want to call it spoke up.

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Floating Brain aka Summer

The past years have been so packed with school, work, major family events, and stuff stuff stuff. In many ways, I can't remember a time that it wasn't like this. But now, it's a moment after graduating... MFA, check, and post-tenure with (the beautiful dance family) David Dorfman Dance, check. I get to sit and think. I get to say things like "I'm gonna play with my thoughts" and then I do. Mixed in there is, of course, the annual wtf am I doing, exacerbated by having space to feel the aftershock rather than running [clinging] to the next commitment. But, I think. I imagine. I prepare for the Magenta project, by (re)imagining the ideas I began, but didn't get to the pit of, and the desires I have yet to try. There soon will be a moment of getting to experiment, until then it is thinking and preparing the best I can.

In the studio, experiments or jumping-off points quickly spark new directions and/or unravel into something magic, weird, or dead. What happens in the studio rarely looks like what I thought it would. Usually, this means that what I have imagined is more sensorial- a feeling, a swell, a sensation- rather than a concise idea that I can turn into physical material. Good thing there is practice and experimenting -  practice at experimenting too. The sensation is almost always richer and more alive than the description of the sensation, and when I notice that a particular part of a dance works sometimes works and doesn't at other times, it tells me that I haven't identified what that part/movement is doing. For example, does it work because of a somatic detail? Does it trip-up because the coordination is too familiar? Is it the timing of this moment with the previous moment? Is it performative? How? Carving these details into phsyical form and then sculpting them into such live-performance that allows each detail to seem inevitable is nothing short of alchemical; a concise recipe of movement, sensorium, language, image, imagination, and that stuff (that kind of buzzing sometimes warm, electric, slipping, falling stuff) that sits in the chest and is always hard to name, pry open or understand. 

And this is just the dance itself.

Beyond imagining the dance, preparations for the dance to happen are sketched through applications for grants and residencies and/or conversations about the possibilities to perform, show, collaborate... and all of this too can feel only imagined. A limbo of waiting. Which comes first making the dance or having a performance commitment? Sometimes, I'm really not sure.

 

 

That installation I was making.

lies that tell the truth

She can't whistle.

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She gets severe stage fright.

She needs loud music.

She needs a crowd moving... together. 

She needs to be alone.

She likes the texture and nostalgia of teeth, paper planes, hands, ink, milk, wind, and pantone.

She likes to watch slugs having sex.

She likes the billowy car dealership balloon dude.

She is 10 years younger than her mom's death.

She believes in premonition and magic.

She is filled with sand and likes the sensation of deflating.

She always liked Lisa Frank and Diamanda Galas .

She loves beets because their color tickles her eyes.

She thinks everyone is better than her, except Mitchell- he's an asshole. 

She dislikes beige food.

She met Prince at Buckeye Donuts... he ordered a custard donut with shhhuugar.

She met Steve Martin when he was wearing a bike-tard and Johnny Knoxville while she was crying in Soho. 

She makes work about people and their self myths.

She knew Ben, Sioux, Bob, Aiesha, Donna, Hugo, Kelly, Carrie, and Mary… before their premature deaths. 

She thinks some people are lighthouses for others.

She needs you to exist.

She thinks about being an accountant, but gets too depressed.

She thinks glaciers are inherently funny.

She still cannot whistle.

 

There are directions for participants that have been omitted, and I might say this is my actual Artist Statement. This project was initiated by an assignment in Deke Weaver's Performance Class at UIUC.

Playlist(s) Relocated, no.1

PLAYLISTS.

I'll post more, inlcuding some older ones that I got stuck-on for a while. My hope for these is that they can brighten your day, get you movin/makin, and/or (re)connect ya with music. As always, I would be remiss if I did not list the ongoing work of Mike Wall/SoundFORMovment and Albert Mathias. Always check out soundcloud and see what you find. AND this year, I encountered Mind Over Mirrors (who has worked with magic-human Miguel Gutierrez) and was introduced to Stephen Vitiello... so check'em out and send them love.

FALL 17: "KENDRA, NO ONE ENJOYS SAFETY SWIMMING... BOOM, ROASTED"

For Kaleigh Dent and the Sophomore Class at UIUC; the first playlist I'm posting. The full link here.

Moses Sumney Doomed, Peaches Burst!, Christine Hoberg & Flight Facilities Clair De Lune, Perfume Genius Queen, Oumou Sangaré Diya Gneba, Anika Love Buzz, Jamie xx Gosh, Glass Animals Gooey (Gilligan Moss Remix), soundForMovement/Mike Wall 3 92, Antony & The Johnsons Dust and Water, Odetta It's a Mighty World, Pumarosa Lions' Den, Big Thief Shark Smile, The Raincoats No Side to Fall In, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Melting, Nick Irick Bordeaux Shadows, Barzin Stealing Beauty.

From me mailer, part 1-4: People makin' stuff that is goooooood.

1- Cedric Bixler

Frontman for the Mars Volta and At the Drive-in, Bixler is one of my favorite performers. I love these performances on Letterman- and the fact that they are on Letterman...
Wax Simulcra, 2008 and One-Armed Scissor.

2- Xochi Solis
Beauty works. I came across Solis's work in one of my favorite books on collage (yes, there are multiple): Collage: Contemporary Artists Hunt and Gather, Cut and Paste, Mash Up and Transform by Danielle Krysa, link.
... her works consist of carefully layered color, texture, and image- often titled and influenced by music. Being a 90s gal myself, Solis's particular musical selections have a particularly meaningful draw. As do the delicious interactions of color she crafts.

3- Maggie Nelson
BluetsThe ArgonautsThe Art of Cruelty... read them all. Just a heads up Midwest folk, Nelson is giving a free talk Monday, April 30 in Chicago. [The even has passed, but just buy Bluets so you can read it all the time]. I will be dancing in a new work by the lovely Sara Hook and cannot be there. Take notes for me, please. 


Dear Maggie Nelson,
I hope to one day meet you and talk about color and tell you what I've been working on and ask for help and maybe you'll be able to or maybe you won't but maybe you'll write another book that guides me despite
distance

Best,
kp

4- NEW RELEASE(s) that may bring you some pleasure: The Breeders All NerveMind Over Mirrors Bellowing Sun, and Sons of Kemet Your Queen Is A Reptile (THANK YOU Abby Z for introducing me to this band.)

 

 

 

How to be happy, brought to you by Google and Commencements

It was bright and sunny. Then everything turned a yellow-taupe hue, the wind blew a bunch of shit everywhere, sirens blared, and hail fell. Now, it's only dripping from broken gutters and there's a sweet breeze. It's May. I'm graduating and I think the weather just wrote my self-reflection. This Sunday, I'll give a tiny speech at convocation, which has me thinking and reflecting on what the hell I'm doing.

I started by re-reading a manifesto assignment from last year about happiness. For the most part, it reads like a "hang-in-there-cat-poster" and I'm surprisingly fine with that and agree with some of the words I etched into those proclamatory tablets [please imagine large extravagant hand gestures with every syllable]:

  • Happiness is not fictitious, neither is magic. Exercise both [by dancing].
  • Risk-taking and generosity are one in the same.
  • Happiness is transformative - not easy or saccharin.

Cats, hang in there!

Naturally, my next step was to start googling things. I googled "How to be happy." (Don't worry, this is more a curiosity than a plea). I'm not going to bother you with my google wormhole-path, but I will offer the highlights alongside the most popular ideas of how-to-be-happy:

Don't be an asshole, control your breathing, apply the Socratic method to your negative thoughts, get moving, optimism is infectious, practice active gratitude, follow your intuition, smile, enjoy your work, push yourself out of your comfort zone, go outside, sleep more, spend time with others, engage in mindful/meaningful conversation, and help others (it was specifically stated that 100/hrs is ideal- hmmm). 

Okay? Especially easy is the apply the Socratic method crap, which inherently makes me return to "don't be an asshole."

[Forward] I read a bunch of graduation speeches aimed to inspire... popular ideas seemed to point at the value of learning to learn*, remaining curious, loving your failures because they are ships that take you to lands you never planned on visiting!!! etc. And yes, learn through curiosity and pleasure. Yes! Enjoy the work and shift mistakes into regal attempts at what has yet to be figured out. Yes! We are putting ourselves out there by doing the work we do; we are doing something. Yes! We can have faith in this. Buuuuuuuuuuut..... it can be hard to remember these points of happy artful living, and harder yet, to feel their value and my own value in doing them. I imagine I'm not alone in this feeling.

[Redirect] On one website somewhere, Dana Schutz was quoted as saying - define yourself not by your successes but by how you survive your most difficult times, and Ed Helms - as long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you’re on the right path. And of course, there's Neil Gaiman's truly uplifting Make Good Art 2012 commencement speech at the University of the Arts. It's a popular one for sure, but you should still listen to him and not let the popularity deter ya. 

He begins by addressing that he has never had a career plan, but has a practice of making lists. Lists of what he wants to do. He offers that not knowing on the way to knowing is a beautiful place to be. One that allows freedom from knowing the rules and, more importantly, an ignorance to what has been determined impossible. He goes on to heartfully and humorously comment->

...on making mistakes

...when things get tough

...money comes and goes but at least you have your work

... make YOUR art

...enjoy it all

and arrives at a proposal/reminder to make your work for new futures opposed to those designed to uphold unproductive and exclusive art. The rules for how we need to proceed are breaking down and there is room/need to make up and forge new paths; new ways of doing what we do for/with each other.

[Now] Upon graduating, I feel a bit outside of myself; a bit exposed like I forgot my pants and just took a bite of something sloppy and too big for my mouth. I'm reminded by today's weather, Neil Gaiman, googling and revisiting that maybe some of my sad-not-sad-kinda-itchiness-flutter-of-anticipation-wtf-ness is less about me knowing what the hell I'm doing and more about my acceptance of my not knowing as a potentially profound way of reimagining my work and the way I'm feeling. In the words of Gaiman (ish, paraphrase supreme) I imagine where I'm going like a very distant mountain with many paths that can lead me there. Sometimes I may mistake an opportunity that is closer to the mountain as one that will leads me closer, but it leads me away. Recognizing when ambition blocks intuition.

CATS, we will get to the mountain.

 

*I'm a bit hmmm about the popularity of learning to learn as a pedagogy, which maybe I'll write next about. Don't worry, I'm not indicting this aim, it just seems like it is harder to not-learn than to-learn [there are certainly things I wish I could unlearn]. Perhaps, it is more the ability to keep on task, indulge the imagination, and do the work. David Foster Wallace in one speech somewhere stated ... teaching you how to think is shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. Control is another saucy term for artists... but this maybe a bit of where I'm headed.

 

 

Desire Lines+vulnerability+fractal-shit

Feelings Fuck (written fall 2016, revisited right meow)

 

Desire Lines… Most commonly refers to foot paths created by repeated travel off of or between formal paths, such as sidewalks. Traces of use or wear that indicate preferred methods of interaction with an object or environment.

Listen: Bull in the Heather, Sonic Youth

At first, the room seems “empty”. I put my things down against the wall and unpack my iPod, sketchbook, and a mechanical pencil. With these items, I walk past a wooden net that hangs from ceiling to floor- it is messy and seems in motion. The sound system, which both works and does not work, defaults to the radio, which is frequently tuned between the stations- transmitting a loud static that is oddly ambient. At times I prefer the static over song and static over silence. The heat has been on full sweltering blast, which I also prefer, but I pull one of the three working windows up to let in air. The air moves through the room, it is abstractly sentimental- neither conjuring past moments nor people, but nonetheless bringing past into the present. 

I am ten years younger than my mom’s death.


I walk through the room. I try to arrive or whatever that means. Arrive means different things on different days, and rarely does it refer to something simple and clean… or consistent. During a past moment, “arrive” was explained to me as allowing neutrality to enter as a point of departure and/or framing the present events. Neutral Body. What the fuck is a neutral body? Neutral face. Neutral expectation. Neutral knees. I bend my joints- stretching Adidas (please sponsor me) material and skin around my curves and angles. I might think of a scuba suit and submerge myself in the depths of imagined water- remembering that I love the romance of currents pushing against and surrounding my body, tumbling—metaphorically drowning. I bend more. Ironically, I am overwhelmed by holding my breath. I stretch more. I scrub my feet to the floor as if there was stuck gum and I wait for the heat caused by the friction between my feet and floor. I imagine this heat flooding my body from the ground up and I move accordingly through tiny circles, spirals, and sequential articulations, getting them larger, stoking the kindling throughout my insides, while the weight of vast water fills everywhere and everything else. 

I might enter through this semester’s recent ritual: complete my PT, give myself a section of my class, create a new paint for a future class, improvise under the influence of a specific idea, draw, improvise again, perform the growing solo, and eventually generate/rearrange/modify the solo. I return to desire lines in hopes that they can move me towards the world- through movement and space. That the desire lines might serve as paths to recall or discover value, or maybe they can reveal patterns trodden by injury, habit, and/or preference. I try to put movements in order without curating them. Often improvising the order and attempting to recall. What has come to make sense is a product of my experience which has a precarious relationship with my intuition. Unlearn. Can unlearning happen? Unknowing. Can I un-know?

I find the way memory works is slippery, especially in movement- lists, rhythms, tones, timbres, kinesthetic. There are certain cadences of movement that facilitate my memory; perhaps those cadences align with those I have trained through. At times my memory of a movement muddles my understanding of the movement itself. Memory filters, recreates, and reconstructs movement and meaning. Yet with desire in the mix, memory shifts. The desire to feel the material the way it is remembered is not necessarily the same as what the material is/was. Desire lies.

Listen: Or, Sonic Youth

Being warm, I take off my jacket and place it near the sound system, which means it is sometimes on a chair, the floor, or a stool. On darker days, I turn a couple lights on, though it takes me a few attempts to reach the lighting that pleases my aesthetic du jour. Sometimes the light cuts through the wooden netting system that drapes two of the walls and leaves the dancing space riddled with stark checkered shadows. I grab the broom and do a quick once-over of the space, dumping the wad of hair, dust, and tape in the tiny rusted trash can near a door that I always forget is there. In August, I swept up a bird carcass wrapped in dust bunnies and tiny trash pieces. 

By now, I’ve played music louder and louder. I repeat a song too many times. I get embarrassed by the quantity of my repeat listening and dramatic setup. The room is full: textures, rituals, heat, timbres, and a gong-like emotionality reverberates through the room. Outside this room, the sky has been slowly fading, and there has been a gentle scratching of branches against the roof. There have been footsteps and doors shutting. I’m not sure if the gong is me or the room. Everything outside continues on, unfazed.

Compartmentalized. Parts. Pieces. I began with material I previously relegated to certain versions of myself: teacher, dancer with this person, dancer with that person, “my” work. But these versions are more nuanced. Sometimes, I am the version of me who makes someone laugh, does what they want, wants to giggle, wants to be weightless, or wants to disappear. Sometimes, I desire “big legs”, something luscious and momentous, boney-ness, or the vast horizon. My teaching self seems to be better at remembering material. My dancer seems better at making bold choices. My making self gets overwhelmed with details and context… and and and….

MAKE. I’d look for nuance and try to distill it and simplify its engines. I tried constantly shifting the orders, and making lists of the movement as if each movehad a codified title, such as smack in down, yup!I made new meaning out of these lists, more material out these meanings, attempted to flatten it all again. Feedback keeps treading on my personage more than my product- and I find that confusing and discouraging. Neutral body, move away from yourself. Too much. Too little. Too complex. Be yourself, but not like that.I have questions about vulnerability.

Start Over… Listen: Or, Sonic Youth

The more I come to know the material, the more the details surface. Much like the objects in the room- with time I have come to seethem better. I spend time with the material and know there is something on the other side of being too familiar with the movement. Something on the other side of the disheartened confusion that quakes my insides. Something on the other side of talking about what am I doing and not doing. Something that is focused on the doingand the experiments that cannot be fruitful all the time. I need to remember this- or forget to reconsider…. Go through the work, do the thing… listen to what the work and the thing before closing the valve.