Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved science fiction. My mom used to write novels and stories herself. She introduced me to the great sci fi writers and I’ve been hooked ever since – not so much to the hard science, but to the question, “what if…?” I’ve especially loved the women writers like Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ and Doris Lessing who address social issues by imagining alien cultures on other planets with vastly different bodies, histories and ways of perceiving.
Katarina and I have been improvising dance in the studio for several years now. A lot of our work together has involved researching movement states that arise out of the practice of moving with closed eyes. We also often work with focuses that come from the Body-Mind Centering (BMC) work. These focuses might be body systems-based (eg moving from fluids, organs, the spine…), perceptual (visual, mouthing, vestibular…) or they might be developmental / evolutionary movement states and patterns, like we see in babies or animals. The BMC work has been a very rich source of movement material and ideas for us. We’re both interested in movement which is somewhat outside the realm of what you would normally see in a contemporary dance class or performance. We like to start by exploring the unknown and see what forms emerge.
So it occurred to us that a science fiction theme might be the perfect context for some of this movement research. What would happen if we approached our dancing as if we were aliens inhabiting human bodies for the first time?
One of the science fiction fantasies I’ve long been fascinated by is the idea that the body can morph: that it’s permeable, it can transform and take on new forms at will. I want a body that can do that! In ANIMoid we play in some of the body’s fluids systems, which are a great physical metaphor for transformation. The fluids are constantly changing as they circulate through the body, altering their form and function as they pass through different membranes, continuously morphing through various states of movement and mind. I find this useful to remember not only when I’m dancing but also in everyday life when I’m feeling stuck in a particular physical, mental or emotional state. To quote my teacher Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, “Transformation is just a membrane away.”
These days, as we get close to the premiere of the piece, I’m also finding the science fiction theme useful for circumventing my critic mind. Those nasty censorship voices in my head that say, “oh no, you couldn’t possibly, that’s too wierd”, or, “forget about it, that just makes you look like a bad dancer” inevitably have to be dealt with. As an alien being who doesn’t really know how humans are supposed to dance, I feel somewhat liberated from those voices. Not from the need to refine and compose, but perhaps from the pressure to come up with movement that some imaginary critic might think is beautiful, original or interesting.
To be continued.