No big productions, only quiet dances this season. As it turned out, the black box theatre became suddenly available, and so Maru organised an evening of dance improvisation. The set up? Anyone could join, as long as they came with some kind of concept for a dance piece for up to ten minutes.
Oddly enough, the day before I was in a storytelling workshop where 雄仔叔叔 (Uncle Hung) showed us footage of his work with kindergarten children. It is so clear that the instinct for narrative is in every single one of us. If you look at the children, they don’t worry about needing to tell a good story. They just forge ahead with the narrative, believing every single word they are saying.
Oh!, I realised. All this crap about me about being confused about theatre – I just need to jump right in and storytell, with the same kind of courage and confidence that these kids have. And so it is with this kind of spirit that I plunged ahead with this dance solo to Nina Simone’s “I wish I knew how (it would feel to be free).”
I find that half of the storytelling is establishing the type of space — and therefore the relationship that you wish to have with the audience. Maru’s piece right before me involved having everyone sit together in a circle, and he went around and danced with each member of the audience while Cally improvised poetry in response to the interaction. This was exactly the type of distance I wanted from the audience, and it seemed like a natural segue for me then to begin my piece by actually talking to the audience.
I think what really surprised me in this dance was how un-dancey my movements were. No obvious Luminski technique, no tai chi. I just allowed the tremor of my hands to evolved into the discover of my bird. In a way, it was like a little girl discovering movement again.
Many years ago, I saw — from a bus-window — a student running to school. She was running and simultaneously putting on a backpack; and I was fascinating with the fluidity of her gesture: left arm, right arm, shoulders. Since then, I’ve always thought that there is a bird inside me waiting to come out in a dance. As Josh says, I have wingspan!
I specifically asked for a single spotlight, so I could play around with the boundaries of the circle. But I guess I was kind of in the dark outside the circle, so all these photos are of me in the light; and you can’t see the audience.
The solo is a very specific form: It’s about you, in relation to heaven and earth, and the audience. I think for years I wanted to hide myself in collaboration, but there comes a time when you want or need to take responsibility for your own presence and voice on stage. I guess I’m finally in a place in my life where I’m ready to do that again.
photos by: Ron Lau and Dora Lai.