“I began dancing at a young age, especially for a boy-child in suburban Minnesota in the 1960's. Dance met important needs for me then, and has continued to do so throughout my life. Yes, dance provided me with an outlet for the expression of joy and other emotions, but never merely that. It's also always been an ontological arena, a place of investigation, experimentation, even struggle—a space for living with the question of the body (my body, your body) and the self, for attending to the information living in the body. It's a world unto itself, the potencies of the dancing body, springing (I theorize) from the matrix of experience underlying verbal language, from our first and fundamental perceptions of time, space, body, consciousness, me/you, pleasure/pain—in short, life. When I'm dancing, I know I exist, and I negotiate and give utterance to my particular existence. When I witness you dancing, I must negotiate your particular existence.
I'm working to reconcile the current, and necessary, interrogation of the social and aesthetic status quos with my love of fully realized, full-bodied dancing. I experiment to find frames in which dance like this can exist with validity. I also experiment to find doors for the audience into this fully physicalized dancing, often incorporating projected written text or fragments (or more) of emotionally-charged music to reveal my creative process to the audience, and to supply aspects of narrative. My hope is that while engaged with these, viewers might experience for themselves some of the potencies, the 'meanings,' of the dancing itself.
I've been explicitly looking at this question of meaning-making in dance. My use of extra-dance elements figures into this, asking the viewer to hold two or more different media together simultaneously—for example, live dancing and written text—and negotiate the poetics of perhaps not being able to connect them nor separate them, but to nevertheless experience them. Throughout, I proceed from the aesthetic stance of working with “what is,” which for me includes the real bodies, personal histories, and relationships of the dancers onstage—with each other and with the audience—as well as the relation of these with the cultural/political/social context, the “what is” outside the studio.
Recently I've been using projected video as a new progression in my experiments juxtaposing non-dance texts with the onstage dance action. This work follows that thread regarding how we construct 'meanings' (for lack of a better word) from the various 'data' we receive, and how these meanings are necessarily provisional, tentative, and temporary. It's in this vein that, in Partial View for example, I've used live video from onstage cameras, as well as pre-recorded images, providing multiple potential points-of-view (perspectives, vantage points)—both figuratively and literally (thanks to the live video). Throughout, I'm obsessed with the particular kinds of meaning—sensual, perceptual, ontological—that dance can provide.
I find the greatest value that can come from dance often arises from the most abstract aspects of the form, leading me to believe that dance may be an inherently abstract art form. As a result, I'm more interested in 'doing' than 'representing,' and, specifically, 'doing' with the body. I like performance that walks the tightrope between looking at a subject and, simultaneously, embodying that subject-between an analytical cool and heart-on-sleeve expression. And I believe in theater's potential to exercise our perceptions, perhaps giving us the skills to also experience life outside the theater more fully.