Postmodernism can seem murky at times, but I’m trying to see it as a layered murkiness. I’m trying to consider what floats up to the top first, reach down to the bottom when I’m feeling brave. The murkiness, for me, comes from deciding that not everyone plays by the same set of rules or experiences which is not only fine, but probably good. With this decision, the concept of rules ceases and becomes more about principles and structure. Rules become rather unfriendly, but the idea of structure can be fun. Structure is the navigating system for understanding a piece. Structure comes in many different forms, but basically I just try to adapt to the most visibly apparent structure. Within this structure I can connect dots for myself. Sometimes, I disconnect the dots and start over. Sometimes, some dots never connect. Sometimes, all the dots connect. As long as I feel that I know what the dots are, I’m okay with however they connect.
The idea of showing a “work in progress” correlates to the murkiness for me. Part of what is difficult for me in examining postmodern dance works, is that I’m definitely a product oriented person. While I can recognize the value in the process over product mentality, it is still a little foreign to me. I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay to simply sit on an idea. Letting an idea or thought sit, stew, and ferment takes much more focus than I originally realized. I have seen so many things, where I just thought, “I could have done that, my grandmother could have done that,” and dismissed it. I completely miss the act of being because I always feel I should be doing something. Doing can be completely exhausting. Being doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing, but that you are purposefully experiencing an idea or feeling. This sense of being is also an important aspect of the modern dance revolt, rejecting quotas, steps, hard bodies, and grandiose movement. Being takes courage and clarity to stand your ground regardless of everything being done around you. Being lets an idea be free to expose itself to you. Being lets you be free to not look in the mirror every two minutes to see how it looks. Being lets you seek what you want over what others say you need.
By applying the being part of a process, I can understand the asymmetry of a piece. Sometimes, a piece of work will feel very imbalanced to me. However, if I go back to looking at what the dancers are being or trying to be, I can find their sense of balance. What balances or grounds a work can be quite fluid. When I find that I can’t find the choreographer’s sense of balance, often it is a result of my not being totally engaged with the work. Finding their definition of balance doesn’t mean I love the piece, but that I’m responding to their work. I used to think that I only understood pieces I liked, but now I see that I can understand something independent of my appreciation for the piece. The freedom of process over product allows my opinion or reception of a work to be fluid as well. Watching the growth of a work from various viewpoints, makes it easier for me. The theater works that I understand the best are the ones I heard from backstage night after night until I thought I be sick. Hearing and seeing a work when it was done well or done poorly, lets the work be tested. A good work will usually prevail despite its presenter. The fullness of the work might not be evident, but essence of it will be there.