Our first entry in The Bloodlines Journal comes from Company dancer, Joshua Tuason. Bloodlines has begun its journey, and we’re here to share its stories. Read more about Bloodlines here and stay tuned for more entries into the Bloodlines Journal.
Written by Joshua Tuason.
Which dancers from history would you like to sit down and have a conversation with? Have you ever thought of a scenario where you are grabbing a beer with someone you’ve studied and admired? Who would you sit with and what would that conversation be like?
Our fall touring of Bloodlines saw the continuation of RainForest and the Company’s premiere of Trisha Brown’s Glacial Decoy. Columbia College in Chicago whole-heartedly embraced the Bloodlines project, taking a full performance program coupled with teaching workshops. After an exciting launch at the Joyce Theater this past Spring we were finally able to see the work come to life on tour and discover the crux of the project. New York was the announcement; Chicago put it to the test.
Throughout the week we workshopped classes in various techniques: Cunningham, Brown, and Petronio. We had the luxury of teachers from these companies including Paige Cunningham from Cunningham and Mindy Myers from Trisha Brown, while our own Gino Grenek imparted his infamous skill and understanding of the Petronio technique. Students and company members alike were able to participate and as the week went on, it became apparent how to approach this variety of work. As a mover, you have to be open to the versatility of each style, from the held and contracted exactitude of Cunningham or the loft and flow of Brown, to the energetic initiations of Petronio. Jumping from one style to the next you become sensitive to each language. But all the while you have the immediate awareness that it is you, yourself, who is the one translating all these languages. You’re multilingual! And it is in that personal translation that we see a conversation take place within the body.
This dialogue is what I find most exciting and inspiring as a dancer. Growing up and studying the works of the post-modernists you see the academic importance and context of what their work signified. But to re-stage and ultimately perform means to live through and communicate through their work. Not only do we just revive cultural dance milestones to spotlight history for the sake of remembrance, it also requires something very charged within the performance when they take place. (That’s where the responsibility of the performer lies.) To simply restage would fulfill that historical acknowledgement but it would be just as flat as when read in a history book. To copy misses the point. The Warhol pillows are real and coming at you to be touched and interacted with. This is not an exhibit where the art comes with a security guard and a sign that says “Do Not Touch”. The Bloodlines project means to breathe life into these works and make them come alive. There is a responsibility to relive these steps but to be too precious merely preserves the material in the past.
We are all participants. The dancer and audience communicate. And therefore we are all also communicating with Cunningham, Warhol, and Brown. What transpires when we all meet? My goal is not to equate myself with these great figures but to make human and relatable and knowable these abstract figures of the past. And that conversation is extended to the audience when they watch a performance. We can then have a discussion and it is always up for debate. It should be. This isn’t just an appreciation, it’s a furthering of the dialogue. I can only hope to keep the conversation going and expand it.