Re: The great Debate

Johannes Birringer (
Wed, 23 Dec 1998 05:09:10 +0000

yes, Per, I agree with you, and am wondering why these debates are
flaring up right now, and what we could do with/after them,
constructively. The funding issue (for production, conferences,
festivals) seems intimately connected with the question of how we carve
a future for the field in the educational sector, as well as in regard
to funding and development support (equipment, for example) that we all
need to do the kind of experiments we like to do (my company is in the
process of getting a new G3 powermac and we run into the problem of not
getting one in the USA that has a fire wire connectuion built in, nor
getting one donated from the corporations we have approached, it's sad
and aggravating, especially since we teach workshops and have an
educational outreach program, but are not acknowledged yet as an
educational institution).

Does anyone out there (independents) deal with these issues of setting
up a dance company as a non-proft organization, applying for
city/regional funds and finding out that funding is given more
frequently these days if the work is educational and (politically
correctly) multicultural and what does that mean for one's artistic
mission, how do we compromise or tailor our mission to the current
funding climate? How do we avoid tailoring?

lastly, someone one our list asked me whether I saw " hot body tattoo"
in concert amd what I thought.

I am afraid I must speculate. I could not see the one-night concert as I
was in rehearsal. A close friend/lighting designer saw it and told me it
had an interestingly reduced white quadrangle space (taking up only a
small portion of the large theatre stage), used for the trio of dancers
and their movement (staying within the small area), mirrored by a white
screen for film projection of footage of the dance (shot from above,
different angles, distorted angles, equivalent movement footage and
extraneous images).
The dance as a whole apparently was driven by very hard, invasive and
oppressively loud techno music, the movement angular and sharp (inspired
by martial arts motion vocabulary), the evolution of the piece
relentless and exhaustive, very much along the lines of contemporary
physical theatre, the mood negative and, my friend suggests,
anti-technological (if that paradox makes sense - a commentary on
technological alienation and disenchantment). A piece about the end of
the century and the cold rhythm of political imperatives.

[my friend also commented on the discrepancy between the seemingly
gender-neutral dance and costumes on stage (black outfits all) and the
surprisingly gender specific film images of man-handling and male
aggression against women]

The political imperative (apart from the conjoining economic pressures
to work, make money, succeed, work long hours, smile, not ask questions,
work overtime, work more and be available at all
times/beeper/cellular/and such) seems correlative to the currently
experienced military technology (tactic) of using bombs to distract from
impeachment/sexual harrassment). US foreign policy is a perversely sexy
dance of awarding punishment (on behalf of the substitute catholic
self-flagellation) upon others, a version of S/M techno displaced from
the disco to the theatres of operation.

How does the dance community react? how many sensors can we install in
our stages and children's museums, and what exactly, for a cultural or
ethnographic critic, would the employment of sensors imply to an
audience hooked to their beepers and cellular phones and time managers?
How does contemporary dance manage time or tell us something about time?

happy vacation,

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.