user avatar
Kevin Fay // Teacher
IDOCs » looking back, thinking ahead
I offer here some reflections from my experience of this year's Symposium.

2389 views      1 appreciation    

We started the day breathing, bending, bouncing, running, and jumping. From there, the feats at our disposal escalated and expanded: We could rave-dance freely and challenge our brains to forego comprehension....or we could review case studies as we flattened physical difference with scientifically-endorsed language....or, socializing between sessions or joining an assembly, we could share funny, moving, and mysterious stories alluding to beauty, difficulty, and resolve in our work. Regardless of the form that day took, for me, day one of the Symposium pulsed vibrantly with information, effort, and hope. What's more, knowing that I missed out on sessions during my experience, I left Vienna feeling like I'd only just begun something.  
I remember waking up that warm Saturday morning thinking about what was coming, and I wrote: "It begins by moving: I'm moving: We're moving: It's moving. Good." Yes. Indeed, good! It feels mysterious and poetic to write that, but in sharing dance, I think it's very good to at least begin by dancing. That said, as Ilana Reynolds led breathing, bouncing, running, and jumping in her proposed "Food for the Day", I found it funny to think about the Symposium's theme of compromise while jumping. We defy and do not compromise with gravity when we jump, but somehow, when it was done, I saw that my moving led me to an inquisitive, day-long engagement that required compromise. Truly, for me, Ilana succeeded in her session's aim "to ignite a sense of vitality in the body that is continuous and alive". And after the early morning opportunity to shake myself up and feel a rush of adrenaline, I'll add that such activity is welcome with me as "food" every day. 
I chose my next session quickly because I like the title and because I know I attend to what Shannon Stewart calls "discrepancies between conscious and unconscious, intentional and unintentional, complicit and coerced". Both consciously and unconsciously, I do not regret my choice. Truly, "Not About Thing: What Am I/We/It Doing?" exploded in my face immediately with a group rave dance that cracked open wide, personal landscapes for my sensations and questions. In a nod to expansive thinking and open discourse inside the busy session's framework, Shannon said before we started that she was open to whatever we needed. Liking the permission granted and feeling adrenaline still fresh in my veins, I went to dancing. Shortly thereafter, my body flooded me with information. With a smattering of ideas from Deborah Hay, Jonathan Burrows, and Judith Butler tumbling around beside our private, vigorous dancing, Shannon asked us directly to consider the difference between detachment and "dis-attachment". Precise, personal definitions aside, the word "dis-attachment" is Hay's, and on Saturday, I took the distinction of these terms as an invitation to let my brain and body meet and separate how they saw fit. Inside my personal, physical freedom, I felt how we are like malleable plastic as human beings, and I thought about how what we try to fix - physically and otherwise - is impossible. Indeed, we are all changing all the time, and it's my opinion that the physical curiosity or awareness we could feel when Shannon organized us in to rave dance pairs is powerful. For as we could see in solo-replay-tuning scores à la Lisa & Karen Nelson at the end, we are each capable of "live editing" and improvised composition in groups. I simply wish there had been more time for discussion in this group....Maybe, however, we are so under- and over-comprehended as people that this session would have lasted all day that way. 
As my rousing morning came to a close, I sat in the enormous studio where the day began, and I listened to three lectures on "Equitable Pedagogical Strategies that Support Diverse Learning in Dance Education". I seek out and support equity, so I picked this session to see what I can learn or share as an educator. Unfortunately, with the way information was presented and shared, I couldn't help but wonder about the distance scientifically-endorsed language creates. For though Becky Dyer, Diona Peltcs, and Halley Willcox amassed an impressive amount of content and presented it very clearly, I wasn't sure of how to respond to case studies. It felt fruitless to memorize terms, but without them, I almost didn't know how to participate. I was happy to follow the case studies as they were put forth because I love story-telling, but as an active, eager participant in Impulstanz, I couldn't help but ask myself why articulate, passionate, intelligent women relied so much on medical terms and stories in their session - especially when I think words fail to capture meaning from whatever we see or feel in movement. That is to say, we may quote Hay, Burrows, Butler, Dewey, and others to build or defend credibility, but we all learn by doing, and in my experience, we share what we learn as individuals with our bodies. Thus, for me, (diverse, pedagogical) fun came only at the end when we learned a salsa dance from Diona, and we talked about how it felt to do it with our eyes closed. Closing the eyes is a remarkably easy way to become equitable, and to find equitable pedagogical strategies like the ones proposed in this session, I think we will all do well to get up from our seats and tackle what is already in motion. 
After lunch, I took myself to Pavle Heidler's "On Creativity, Stress, Self-Discovery, Perspective, Encouragement, Education, Improvisation, and Obedience -" because I was at one time a BA student in dance who had never "been asked to form a reflection or an opinion and express it publicly" and because I make conscious efforts to create freedom for students in the classroom. From where I am now, in but also out of these particular sessions, I want to add that I think Pavle's proposition to focus on principle and not on form is very useful. Some of my best dance teachers showed me that, too. So, personally engaged when I walked in the room, I was happy to hear Pavle begin his session by inviting us to join an assembly. According to the rules for the assembly he proposed, any speaker could speak only for or as themselves, and any and all listeners could determine on their own what's valuable in the speaking. It was, for me, both grounding and motivating to open a session about responsibility, obedience, and conviction with humility, humor, and an invitation to be independent. What's more, the stories we shared about our practices for interpretation and transference gave me a real sense of the significance individual voices carry in art and in life. Somehow, too, The Moon Practice Pavle shared to finish our assembly sparked new curiosity in me about the fluid powers we have inside of mysterious experiences: So much is possible in art, so much is relative in life, and though we contain dense, diverse multitudes as individual people, it is up to us to decipher and share ourselves (humbly, I think) via assemblies, symposiums, conversations, and communities where we find them - whether we know why to do it or not. Indeed, as they wrote in the Symposium advertising, it is a precarious world, and the time for any kind of mulling is up.   
Saying so much in this reflection now, I feel I want to redo my automatic self-interview for Sybrig Dokter's "Compromised Position". Truly, with time, Sybrig's simple, open installation has given me a lot to consider: What does compromise mean? Is compromise necessary? Is compromise possible? If people don't compromise, then what do they do? Where are impasses, and what makes them important? (My list continues.) I was raised in a large, loving family in the United States of America thinking that compromise is normal or natural, and I guess that was part of my initial draw to the Symposium. That and I take it as a form of personal responsibility for me to "mind the dance". Fundamentally, however, I was educated in an all-boys' Catholic school that encourages both students and teachers to live at the same time with and for each other. I took what I learned there to heart, and I grew in to someone who strives for and participates in compromise, collaboration, collective action, and togetherness regularly. In this day and age, however, I pause, and I wonder with you here about what is real. Put another way: What can we do? What can art do? What can art education do? I think it can change conversations, and deep down, I believe that conversations can provoke the beginnings of change. At the very least, my day with Ilana, Shannon, Becky, Diona, Halley, Pavle, and Sybrig shows me and my unrelenting optimism that we are each the only material we will ever have, and in this fast, shrinking world, it is vital for every one of us to engage, support, challenge, and strengthen the shared, bodily experience of being alone without being lonely.  
So, guided by percolating personal interests and a growing desire to share, I went expecting only to move on Saturday, and I left with a new, strong fuel for my life's fire. Thank you, all. I hope we all continue what we do and remember to refresh our bodies and ourselves with jumping, rave dancing, salsa dance, and assemblies whenever our vigor is waning. 

user avatar
Defne Erdur (Editor) // Admin
Dear Kevin, it's such a pleasure to read your reflections. Through the flow of your impressive wording, I have lived another track of our Symposium. Thank you - sincerely!

user avatar
Kevin Fay // Teacher
Dear Defne, Thank you! I appreciate your response very much. I am glad I could join the Symposium and have this opportunity to share my experience.

You must be logged in to be able to leave a comment.