I have not a single photo from Belfort. Not one. This may be because overall it was not a very positive time. I felt good about our dance work, about the process and the place that the work got to. The technical support in Belfort was really wonderful—we were able to work with lights and sound and everything there in a way that really made the piece finally make sense for me. But the energy of the place and some stresses surrounding the project repressed my photo-taking, I think. (don't worry--it was not nearly that bad--but I do think that stress was a reason I did not take any pics. And the fact that the weather was gloomy much of our time there).
Belfortis an industrial town with a long history of mills, mines, and factories which has created a population base that is largely working-class folks. It is near the Swiss and German border, and supposedly after world war II about 40% of the inhabitants of Belfort still worked for the French Military. The town produced lots of metal works, and has many mines in the surrounding mountains. And it has a distinctively German feel to the architecture,
Henri, Tommy, Georg
Henri at his computer, Tommy and Georg strapped in to 'the device'.
the layout of the city, and the general energy (this is based on my experience of German cities).
I did many fun things in Belfort: I went on some really great runs up and down the river, we ate out at some cute restaurants, and one night the Curator for the National Choreographic Center took us out to dinner and then to the one gay bar in town. It was quite a treat. From the outside you would never know it was a bar--you had to be buzzed in and out of the front door. It was a small but rockin bar, with lots of dancing. Walking into the bar you had the feeling that everyone knew each other. About halfway through the evening karaoke began; music videos with the words of the songs were projected onto a huge screen on the far wall of the bar and people took their turns at it. I, unfortunately, did not make it over to the mic. 😊
We performed our dance piece for the first time in Belfort—a showing for about 80 or so audience members. It was very interesting to finally do it for an audience (though we only
Georg and Tommy
Tommy asking when the pain and suffering will end. (Not really--in fact they said it was much less painful than it looked).
showed about 1/5 of the total piece) and I think that having an audience helped the piece to ‘mature’ a bit. The realization that we are actually doing this work to one day perform for people. This is an easy concept to lose sight of (and at the same time think you have not lost sight of), especially given the fact that we have already been working on the project for 8 weeks now (some of us even longer) and have atleast three weeks of work left before the premiere.
In Belfort we had no internet at the house, which meant that many of us spent long evenings at the theater, on the internet, taking care of our lives back home. Not having internet in my living space I learned in a very experiential way how dependent I am upon my computer, particularly when I am travelling outside of the US. When I am travelling, I use my computer for everything: It is my journal, my music, my address book, my telephone (thank God for Skype!), my news source, and source of all other info I would ever need.
We also had a major kitchen sink/drain problem for
the creepiest was when Henri would enable the facial electrodes and as he was talking his face would be contorting in all sorts of bizarre ways.
about four days that was the result of too much food specs making their way into the sink, which halted much of the cooking that could be done in the house.
During our final weekend in Belfort, I went to visit Tommy Noonan in Freiburg, Germany, which is only about 70 kilometers from Belfort just across the german border.
It was a short 24-hour trip….I got to meet Henri and Georg, the two visiting artists Tommy was hosting for the weekend who were there giving a lecture/performance on electric stimulation and its functions through the body in dance. Essentially what they presented was a duet between one dancer who has wireless electrodes all over the upper half of his body and a musician who is at his computer manipulating a software program to create patterns of movement using electrical stimulation, musical sounds, rhythms, patterns and repetitions, as well as improvisational forms within the medium. It was very bizarre and intriguing. There was something extremely nonhuman and dehumanizing about it.
I sat in on their rehearsal just before the evening’s show. I also got to sit in on a rehearsal for a large tango production that tommy was
a part of. Also funky and bizarre. It involved 50 or so ‘amateur’ tangoers and several ‘professionals,' and just watching the rehearsal was quite a spectacle.
As i was leaving Freiburg, Tommy was preparing for another performance with his own company in Freiburg, the Physical Virus Collective. It was really fun getting to be a fly on the wall and to see what Tommy is up to. It is always great to see someone else's way of life and their work. It made me think how we are all doing such different and unique things in life. No one person is on the same path, doing things that are even remotely similar, and that in most cases the label of 'schoolteacher' or 'baseball player' or 'dancer' or whatever labels we use to define our work end up failing miserably at expressing fully what any given person is actually up to.
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