Ode to Artifacts

a letter

Contact Quarterly 2011English
Contact Quarterly Vol. 36 No. 2 (Summer/Fall, 2011): 0.

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Dear Jurij

Your process makes me wonder what turn my dancing would have taken if I’d had a video to study of the elderly musician who performed a five-minute dance in the Tibetan Folk Opera that visited a small town in southern Vermont in the early’70s. His face was obscured by a massive lion head hat, his ankles sported bells, his hands, rattles, and through a commotion of fabric, his movement rang out as precise as a stitchery, as energetic as a polyphonic choir, as effortless and unpredictable as a dream.

For two decades following, I conjured the image of him the minutes before I stepped on stage, each and every time in hopes that I could become that dance, reaching for specificities I’d not had time to bring to consciousness while he danced before me, hoping that what I knew I saw, what I knew I knew of what moved him-me (cause otherwise, how could I recognized it?) would visit me in the heat of the movement (or moment, as you might say)

Over the years, I was aware that my memory of him had less and less visual or auditory content, yet I continued to conjure with what remained of my sensation of watching him. Then, after more time and further decay, I could summon but a general feeling of elation that was less like a map and more like a bath. And eventually I forgot to remember. Now this remembering (rememberment?) is just words; a story about a memory that aspired to have body, but was never more than a ghost.

A video of a dancer could be a ghost of another kind, revivable by watching it. Surely, you have revived a dance of your own invention through observing a video of a man improvising. It is an unexpected shift in perspective for me that video artefacts of improvisational dance can have such enduring value.

Thank you for agreeing to publish a cull of your raw notes of the first years of your self-transmission in this chapbook. CQ is especially fond of seeds and beginnings, listening in, leaps, recycling, and recirculating, so to speak.

to dreaming awake,