Me. Not me. Not not me. Less me. More you. More Other. Allowing space for me.
Why don’t you sum up your pilgrimage in your second language, Margrete? After all, you have spent the last fortnight with people who don’t speak Norwegian. Maybe some of them would like to read your reflections?
Well, allright, even though I must admit it is a huge relief to be back in my own language. My English is decent, but my «pilgrimage» became a realm of deepening knowledge and suprisingly deep new friendships, and in this situation it was very clear that I feel more at ease when the I have the nuances of my own language at hand. Truly bilingual people are really lucky, I think.
Your previous posts are not available to your english speaking friends. A short resumé, please?
That’s a challenge, and a good one!
My first post was about the idea of the pilgrim connected to my trip to Amsterdam. I argue that real pilgrims always have a goal. A sacred goal. «The Journey is the Destination» does not apply to the pilgrim. Actually, the dance workshop adressed this directly. Julyen Hamilton told us how people may suppose that improvised dance is all about «process». «No!» he replied «I want to make things. Products!» And we did make products – several pieces of instant choreography that resound in the bodies of 20 dancers from about 10 different nations. This is making a difference in the world, isn’t it – even though we did not perform for a larger audience?
Anyway: My goal was my body – seemingly unholy and selfcentered, but none the less thoroughly Christian, because the God-like and created human body is the place where holy encounters happen. Where else? The aware, daring and moving body is a sacred space. The fact that the dance workshop was in a rebuildt church only added some context to this belief.
The following blog-posts were more about the workshop itself, and about my relationship to Julyen Hamiltons approach to improvisation in dance. He is a bit of a guru in his field of exploration, and yet a teacher who always gives the work back to the worker, refusing to make general rules. The «rule» is the work; we practice staying up to date in the actuality of movement. – I appreciate him greatly because he is an artist in everything he does. There is play, poetry, clarity, rhythm, intelligence and physicality – and urgency: «You can lose your piece – so stay up to date!» The dicipline is strict, and yet there is this generous allowance for multiple layers of reading and for any kind of movement.
Photo: Patrick Beelaert
Did you reach you goal, pilgrim?
Yes, i did. It didn’t come about quite like I imagined it to, and there were no moments of «revelation», this time. In fact, I continued to feel a certain fatigue in a lot of the work. All the more, it was nice to notice that it didn’t matter so much whether I felt «fit» or not. I could do the work anyway. At times the movement work fed me – not the other way around.
What does that mean?
Julyen spoke early about letting the movement leave you – in order to become movement in a context where the reading of the movement is more open. In this way the movement can come back to you, instead of you being absorbed by it. I liked it a lot when he explained how this «released» movement then may be more «spacious» and inviting for other. Other meaning «the rest of the world» – or the audience – and even yourself. I suppose he means to describe the wonderful world that opens up when you stop being busy about expressing «yourself», and instead enter into serving the unfolding expression. Or: To be concerned about what is happening, rather than what you are doing (and – God forbid – the multiple reasons for what you are doing).
I believe one of your earlier posts was about instant composition work in relation to therapy?
For me, as a counsellor trained in gestalt therapy, it makes perfect sense to practice the ability to read/listen while in action. It also makes sense that this has a healing function – in itself. In the workshop it was about movement and composition, but these are «life skills»: skills of giving, receiving and allowing. Julyen is careful to distance his work from therapeutic work – still, I think many of us have a therapeutic outcome from the discipline. As «body workers» there is no such thing as leaving yourself out. You are always there as a dancer – with all your content, but it is not all actualized. Practicing the ability to choose what is actualized in the moment is empowering. Strangely enough, this does not contradict the fact that a lot of the movement comes from «God-knows-where».
They say that «When you allow something to be what it is, it changes.» I met this first in the therapy room – as a wise saying. In aware and spontaneous action we actually practice this. So when something is unhealthy or counterproductive and you cannot just leave it, you may have to work it – rather than trying to change.
Are you saying that the work has a terapeutic function because it is not therapeutic in its intentions?
Yes and no. Yes because it is not about me, me, me in the sense that it is about dealing with my emotions or personal history. The beauty of it is that it is bigger than me. I’m included, but there is always a context – there is you, there is other. Its not not me.
No because in my view, a vital part of good therapeutic work is excactly this «mechanical» work of awareness and listening. Maybe even therapy is not about «resolving personal problems», but more about being able to take and fill the place that is given to you in your context.
Okay, by now I am dizzy from the perspectives brought up. We should finnish this interview. One more thing: Why «language lost and found» in the title?
I think it deals with the fact that I started my pilgrimage in a need to «find» my body – my dancing body. And, of course, there is nothing to look for – it is there. So the «finding» is the working it. To write a lenghty text in English is the same. I could fool myself that I am losing something – my second language, for instance, while all along it is not a question of losing or finding. It is a question of what you choose to work.
It is as cruel and as simple as that.
Photos from the «Evolving technique and making dances»-workshop by Julyen Hamilton in Amsterdam 2015: Patrick Beelaert.