Interview: Work in the 70s
questions edited for clarity
You were involved with work in the 70’s that was influenced by the theatre
activities of the 60’s; besides the experience of performing in many
different contexts, what aspects of the theatre of the 60’s you felt more
relevant for the work you had undertaken later on? Which sides of it
influenced your creations?
The main influences I still retain form that period are interdisciplinary activity in the arts and location work.
Would you describe what kind of hippie were you?
A bad one.
When you said: ” I love solo because in a way you wash all the crap out of
the art vision.” What do you mean?
Solo allows for me to experience utter humiliation. I am devoted to the humiliation as the most central place to practice art
Let me clarify my previous question: Solo is also typical in the dance of xx
century, being a symbol of the ethic-aesthetic revolution of the modern and
contemporary dance. Through this modality the performer can communicate
emotions and a vision of the world using the “speaking movement”.
I’m not referring strictly to Performance art, but maybe we can consider
the solo in the context of performing art?
Maybe in solo the artist can wash all the crap out of the art vision of
Maybe this was Isadora intention?
The notion here is that there is something happening in art outside of our cultural tendencies or on top of. I experience my work in relationship to culture. So there is nothing original to do and there is nothing important about art except that it is doen and that it is a means to gather the public around a fictitious world.
In a worlds where we can mass produce objects the artists who is making sculptures will question if it is of any value to create yet another object. I question this in the same way.
When we met in Bologna you said that your feminism started with Isadora,
a woman who was at peace with her body.
Is THE DUCK PLAY in some way related to this? What was your feminist point of view?
In the duck play my view was that of the womanâ€™s body as a producer of children, a producer of life. That the body of woman was powerful because of this and yet alienated by the roles that implies what other kinds of woman you have created?
Madwoman was the woman under pressure, the businesswoman, the woman declaring new roles I created Matildaâ€¦the woman who is not attractive but finds a means to communicate beauty by way of her intelligence
How do you see those creations today?
As little art pieces form my past.
Has your feminism changed since then?
Not changed, grown. Grown because there is an abundance of work to read and to learn. Much research has taken place in my time and I have been fortunate to be exposed to it.
Are you still fascinated with this theme?
I do not work with feminism as a theme. I show my body in every work I do. There fore I am a woman so inherit to my art is the responsibility to have debt in my research of being a woman.
In the 80’s there was a bigger number of woman in dance and music improvisation. Did you change your way of working according to this increase?
Not really. I think that everyone is evolving with the changes that woman have explored and territory that woman have gained. It is only important for me in so much that we all suffer by oppression in one form or another.
Why did you decide to come to Italy during the 80’s?
I had work and I toured and Italy was a great base for my touring. I also had work in Italy and that helped.
What was the situation you found?
GroupO. I put group together and toured with the group. I also met a great teacher (Trout Faggioni) who I studies with over the 7 years I lived in Italy. She had studied with Kurt Joose, Laban and Mary Wigman. I learned about the old modern dance movement.
Which reasons brought you to work with a group, the GROUPO? Did you also
continue your solo improvisations?
I founded GroupO because I was doing workshops and members of this company were in my workshops. We began to meet more often in trout Faggioniâ€™s studio to rehearse little pieces. I then took them on tour and grew out of that. I did continue my solo work and other work as well, with musicians and workshops.
What kind of dancer did you need to work with? How was GROUPO born?
I explained in the last question about GroupO, but to go further, it was born out of the enjoyment to work together and the enjoyment to learn as we worked. All member were younger than me, even though I was in my mid twenties so not very old either.
I need to work with artists who have a broad understanding about collaboration and inter disciplinary work. I need that there are discussion about world views as well as about art practice. I need that I work with people who consider their position to be artists and not simply professional dancers or musicians. We have to be able to take a position with the work we do and not just do it out of some professional work ethic.
How did you work together?
In GroupO we started out by making scores that allowed for choice. Then we made pieces that were set but appeared improvises in the way the structure was laid out. We titled these pieces as I had done with my solos; making them more art creations then live performance works.
Our rehearsals were done in stages. One stage would be in the middle of the countryside, in isolation, the stage in a studio setting then the next in another country in a school or theater. Over all pieces form Gruopo took one year to create. We would tour one piece while making another.
In MAGPIE I am making work that is improvised yet appears set. The work is not intended to be creations of art, choreographies with titles. Instead it is live time dance work in interdisciplinary activities like music and text. MAGPIE has worked rigorously in the rehearsal setting over the past 8 years. We approach rehearsals like scientists exploring questions that arise form performance to performance.
The meaning implied by figure and object, the fragmented narratives, pedestrian
movement, gesture and improvisation. In which works have you developed
I am working with the theories related to how we â€œperceive timeâ€ and/or how space appears. These theories are found in neuron science studies and within the studies of the senses generally. I am only interested in communicating but I ma focused more on how we communicate rather than what I can communicate. It goes back to the questions of the sculptor artists who know that mass-produced objects make it challenging to find reason for creating another object. Communication is in the same league of questioning. We can communicate (ass we are doing now) within seconds across the globe and to many places and people at once and we communicate in many forms. I ma interested in how we communicate and therefore I am involved with structural ideas around:
â€œWe believe we have a future because we have a past. The reason we have a past is because we have a memory. In reality we have not future. Our future is never actually what we remembered. The only real time we exist in is the present.â€
These ideas keep me researching the way in which we communicate and keep my attention off the redundant self-preservation exercises.
What I am communicating, if anything is that there is no author in the creative process of making art. There is no God, either male or female. There is simply creation..
In the interview of the Tangent article, Montreal, Canada, You spoke about a
one-hour piece you made for your company that appeared as if they were in
‘chance’. Then you wrote: ” My pieces were set in complicated choreography
structures that, when performed, ‘appeared’ as if they were done out of
I didn’t understand: the work doesn’t appeare in chance?
Of what work you were speaking about?
In this context I am using the word “appear” to refer to how I can imagine the public saw, heard and read the piece. I am speaking for the public point of view; from the feedback I have received and comments form public members over the years with MAGPIE.
The pieces RUTLES and THE ORANGE MAN were choreographed, structured or improvised?
Choreographed and structured. Material was arrived at by way of improvisation sessions. The piece had optional areas like the spacing in any given theater location and the timing of some of the events
How do you work with optional scores of music and choreographies together in your piece
BROWN EYE GREEN EYE, and with optional score placed for duet dance with
guest’s artists, as in WILD CARD?
I make set text and choreographies and collaborate these with music scores. The work is set but optional in that the artists can choose to do one material one night and another the next night. The work of Wild Card and Brown Eye Green Eye was set with optional materials. These pieces did have an order or a sequence of events that then broke out into an optional event.
Was the MIND THE GAP an improvisation?
Mind the Gap was the same kind of structural work as the pieces I responded to in the last question. Each was done with ensembles so the work is set by memory between the ensemble and options allowed for choice of materials. An artist would not invent the material in the live space, it was material already set in rehearsals then used in performance by choice.
Did the collective experiences, the group work, influences you individual
Yes. It is the central research I have been active with.
Yes. It has given way to all the research I have done about the senses and the way we communicate.
In which way?
Collaboration demands fast, straight and very clear communication among the group. It also demands that one looses self-preservation for the not just the group but for the art project. The way in which I work with group is (at this time) about the ability to leave the space or EXIT. This study EXIT is central to dhow I work with ensemble
Before, you used stories and text to investigate ways to disoriented time, space and location. What was your conception of space, time and location?
I am interested that the public looses sense of clock time or counted time. I am interested in how the players can dis-locate our sense of time.
How are you working with this?
By how I have set the materials in optional and finally out of order and the training methods I use for the performers to be able to do this.
This investigation could be regarded largely as the result of the influences of Cage and Cunningham in your work?
Cageâ€™s work asks us to appreciate and give aesthetic value to what we would have previously called noise and to appreciate and give value to silence as music and to appreciate and value the in consistency of nature as a model for how art should be made and viewed. Cunningham is a formalist. His work is set in structures (or combination) that allow for choice of directions. His space value system is based on the (Einstein) idea that there is no one front and that there is no one center in physical space. I have been deeply influenced by their work.
Was the experience in Dartington College the first you had with teaching?
In academic teaching, Yes. I had done workshops my entire career before I was asked to teach for Dartington. But the workshops were placed in professional dance and theater venues or professional studios.
Was this the first institution you worked in?
How was the experience of educating? Is it also a big part of your job?
I enjoy academic study in general so I enjoyed my time at Dartington. However my background is with the practice of the arts and I felt over time that I need to return to the practice or I would not be able to complete my own curiosities. I have always felt slightly hypocritical within academic arts schools simply because I have spent most of my life in the practice and when I meet with teachers who have had their entire careers in academia I am confronted with how limited I am. I feel more in my home in the practice but I adore academic discussion and debate.
Is it a choice or is it necessary to survive?
It is a choice. How I survive is my business. I do not do anything that I do not feel committed to. Survival is key for how I can get my daughter through college or even pay my rent. But I would never take a position where I was there simply for survival. I might as well have taken a waitress job if that were the case. I do have jobs. Vincent (Cacilaono in MAGPIE) makes their distinction between the job and the job job. I never do job jobs. I wrote a story about this issue in the Margaret piece (see solos) where I ask, â€œdo you love you job and hate your work or do you hate your job and love your workâ€? Margaret Thatcher said to funding bodies of England toward the artists of that decade (80â€s) â€œThat is what I love about artists, they love their work so much I do not have to give them money and they will still do itâ€. When she said that she through the art scene back 100 years. We were now all going to have to become businessmen and woman in order to survive and above all we were not supposed to love our work. (Work ethic is a drag—-is not part of my lifestyle)
Are you more interested in workshops, independent teaching, or with school
I like workshops most of all because they are intense. I normally am asked to five hours per day for five days. I prefer working in that intense time frame. It is more what I am used to form, the professional work I have done.
I do enjoy teaching classes in schools but I prefer to have my work within academies then in the trade schools of dance. I prefer art departments to trade schools.
In two works based in Dartington from 1987-1990, you worked with media
isolation and the USA law system. Why did you choose these themes?
I did LAW because I was asked to go to Washington University in Washington DC and make a piece on the students. I could have access to the law departments and access to the courtrooms. It was in the same period of the OJ Simpson case. I liked the text area (law text) and I liked the courtroom setting. I made LAW when I had moved away form Dartington and was already in Holland. My works in Dartington (anti chamber and another rone I do not remember the title) were made in collaboration with artists there and with Tristan Honsigner.
In MACHA you feature guest strippers each performance! Was it a provocative piece? What
about the treatment you gave? Was it ironic?
It was placed in a under ground basement theater that sat only 25 people and way very very small. I made the choreographies in a large studio and then placed it in the small space using the walls as a place for the dancers to complete their movement. I invited different professional strippers and artists to strip. I set the piece within set choreographies and gave choice to dancer about what they would wear and when they would enter the space. The space had a very small back stage where dancers were squashed together and could throw on odd cloths and then appear in the playing space. The piece was with Tony Buck (drummer and electronics) who created a composition for the choreography and played it live. His equipment and drums were a major part of how the space was filled. I had a performance artists (Helen Giles) playing â€œfemale rolesâ€. She appeared periodically and would do text within the characters we developed. We played this piece in the middle of summer for 10 nights. It was a wonderful adventure.
My brother is a male stripper and now runs a pornography business in San Diego. I come form a family of three sisters and four brothers (8 children) I did not see any of them for 15 years. When I returned to the USA in the e90â€s I met up with family and found out that my younger brother had become a male stripper. MACHO was a way to express the irony of me having this brother who was in so different an art area then I had found myself in. It was also a way to question all the issues around the sex industry.
With which texts of yours and of TS Eliot did you work with in CRISIS?
The cocktail Party (a play in three acts)
What do you mean by “optional scores”?
I mean it in the way I explained it in the questions about Mind the gap etc. In Crisis there was no order. Set material with optional scores but also there was not order. I set the beginning and the end. The rest were chosen so that the order was always unique and surprising. The Cocktail Party was the only order we had. Meaning that once one scene was played you could not go back and do it again. The other materials one could repeat and/ or not choose to do. Crisis was an examination of how we behave as humans under crisis (crisis management / mid life crises) and also the way chemistry works within a crisis. (The making of LSD was based on a crisis moment discovery as well as many cures we now have today) â€œThe mistake can very well lead us to the solutionâ€ This piece was designed so that the performers (themselves) were in a state for crisis throughout the play. There was nothing they could depend on happening and yet everything was memorized. Triggers were thrown out full time. It is a trigger versus the cue structure (John Zorn)
How did you work together with choreographies and optional scores in CAT WITH BENT TAIL?
This was a choreography I made in Dartington of the most classical type. I made a piece for three woman with a curiosity to see the movements I made-up on their bodies. It was a simple and quite nice choreography for three women. The title is about the way they were asked to use their body rather than the way it was made or scored.
Was SOLOING the last work you have done in Dartington? What you were working with?
I donâ€™t remember this work I am afraid. Could be that I was working on something to do with being in solo? I do not remember.
What of your interest in the activities that took place in the
1970’s in New York with Y.Ranner, S.Paxton and T.Brown?
Which are the others interested you? (D.Hay, S.Forti, D.Gordon.)
I have influences only form Steve Paxton. The others I have studied have performed with and have had some time together. But the work is not in the same direction or research I am doing. Only Steve.
In what way did Bach and his counter point, linear designs, and complexity
influence your work and your way to listen to and work with music?
What do you find special in the compositions of Bach? When we were working
in Bologna we always used it for the technical classes!
I find his work the epitome of how we count time, how we think of time and how we construct time. I feel that unless one is able to de construct a piece by Bach (without too much persuasion toward how lovely the music is) one is not able to de c construct real time. I have studied Bach my entire career. For me back is rock n roll. All music some how can be placed in the context of Bachâ€™s research (math and art) I am working within the constructs of physics and chance so (chaos theories) so Bach is the way to have courage to let the math go and let chance take over.
In the TALLER DE COREOGRAFIA Y COMPOSITION MUSICAL in Madrid, where you worked the last 26 November to 1 December, you collaborated also in the music classes for choreographies and dancers with Jorge Fernandez Guerra. How was the work? Did you work together?
It was good work and we did work together.
What do you think about “Fire Tables”?
How were the experiences with “Thought
Sonata” (1989-91) and “Improvisations” (1991)?
Why didn’t the collaboration continue?
Do you still keep in touch with Ric Allsop?
Rick is an academic and an editor. He has a wonderful curiosity and a wonderful presence that he can bring to the creation and performance of work. But he is by trade an academic. I have no had opportunity over the past year sin Amsterdam to work with him because I ma too busy and he is too busy. He has three lovely girls to raise and I had one as well.
I enjoyed all the work I did with Rick especially â€œthought Sonataâ€ We experimented with several interesting elements of text and sound and of basic and simple story telling.
Which company was NoVeMBeR? What differences or similitudes did it have with GROUPO?
Groupo was a performing company. November was a production company, much like PIA, the production company I run now. Production companies mean you can initiate activity for the artists and make selections for workshops or productions of any sort. PIA is an interesting production company because of the cyber space work available to us today. PIA uses cyber space as a place for artists and art enthusiast to communicate ideas, make assessable their work to others and simply allow for communication to take place.
November was that kind of initiative but it was before cyber space was in full gear.
What the 15 productions you did for NoVeMBeR about?
These productions were done within the November production company (and seen through by either myself or Rick) but different artists did them.
You had already work with Improvisation Companies in GB, Italy, France,
Spain, Denmark, Finland, and The Netherlands. In Italy one of these is Company Blu?
Can you please tell me for each country the most significant company or the
most interesting results you had working with them?
The company I am the happiest with is MAGPIE. I know that may sound quite introspective but it is the authentic truth. I could not be happier or more at home than with MAGPIE. It is the kind of artist collective I have searched for my entire career.
Company Blu is made of two ex Groupo members. I cannot help but have that kind of relationship to them and their company.
Extemporary Dance Company, Midlands Dance Company, Modern dance Company Plymouth, Lady Comedies, Dance Umbrella and Klapstuk are some companies/institutions you have work with. How was it choreographing for each of these? When do you work with them?
What kind of path you did you take with each company, if that happened?
Choreographers had a role for many years of power and prestige in the dance
field, how do you feel about this and were you, any way, impersonating this
I was asked to do choreographies on companies in the mid and late eighties. I decide do take the senior lecturer post at Dartington at this same time. I preferred the offer form Dartington to the commissions that were coming my way to make pieces. It was not that I felt out of place and certainly not that I was impersonating a choreographer or what ever. I simply had little interest in the work. It does all come down to long rehearsal periods with extravagant premiers and finally runs of the piece. This work already began to be UN interesting for me by the end of Groupo. I was less interested in making art pieces. I was looking for art to become an experience for public rather than a distribution of art statements and art questions in the form of a piece. I was not interested in being an author of the artwork. I was questioning then and continue to question what the self-relationship to art can be in a worked of mass-produced objects and massive communication devises. I am still busy with that. There were no invitations to investigate the annihilation of the author or the self in artwork of the 80â€™s or the 90â€™s so I invented my world to do that in. The 2000 art world does have a place to address these questions. Particularly with the cyber space as an optional place to communicate (as we are doing now)
Except for Dance Umbrella and Extemporary Dance Company (that I believe is or
was the Dartington or the Ric Allsopp dance) I didn’t find anything
about the others companies you work with. Do you still have some addresses?
I worked with several companies throughout the early and mid eighties. But I believe most have folded by now. The Extemporary Dance Company (On the bread line) was an offshoot of the Contemporary Dance Company in London run by Emilyn Claid. It had nothing to do with my work with Rick Allsopp. It folded in the mid eighties. The midland Dance company (Another couple) still exists and is still doing work. It was small company when I made the work for them but has grown into quite a good organization that function as a production company as well as a dance company. Dance Umbrella (ENGLAND) was a festival organization and still is today. I toured for them many times in the 80â€™s a swell as for Klapstuk (BELGIUM) and also Spring dance festival (HOLLND). I toured work with musicians and work with Groupo. Polveregy was another festival in that period I worked for (ITALY). Many festivals started in the 80â€s and I played them all. But you were not hired to do commissions you were hired to bring work to the festival and sometimes make-work for the artists they asked to work with.
Other companies I made work for have folded. I did not like doing commissions. Made me quite UN comfortable to do it. I prefer to keep my work within the context of the artists with whom I ma sharing discussion and trust.