ANDREW MARCUS DISAPPEARANCE, August 24, 2018. (all rights reserved).
In response to Julie’s solicitation that I share something about the evolution/process of the presentation of this work, Disappearance, at FloorSpace:
I met Julie Rothschild in the spring of 2014, shortly after I arrived in Boulder, when she attended some classes in Disappearance as I was beginning to introduce the work to the local dance/somatics community. Julie had opened Floorspace and invited me to participate. I was intrigued with its possibilities as a small, informal performance space.
After establishing the School Of Disappearance, I contacted Julie to book a set of solo performances in the spring of 2016. Also around this time, another local choreographer, Joanna Rotkin, had engaged me to provide support for the development of her own performance process, and Joanna worked and performed out of Floorspace. I had, therefore, opportunity to analyze the space for it’s inherent qualities, and those that would support what I wished to do in terms of performance in such a setting.
What first attracted me to show work at Floorspace, however, beyond the physical attributes of the space, is Julie’s openness and hunger for community around modern, and, presumably, experimental dance and also somatic work. I had the immediate sense that I needed to be involved in some way, in this gesture toward creative community. This seemed particularly important in Boulder in which I felt isolated from the sense of art as real “work,” involving individuals and communities of support, toward engagement with important questions -- while remaining aesthetic in its grounding. This ground, juxtaposed with art as commodity of the entertainment industry, or as “political” in obvious ways, voicing specific agendas, but not necessarily participating in a more abstract discourse (or as I might say, a more truly dangerous discourse); which in my view is what makes art, of any medium important and different than other forms of expression, like journalism, participation in government, or protest, and therefore unique in its contribution to the creation of a healthy society.
In terms of the space itself, Floorspace is intimate. I had been touring Europe for a number of years, often performing in what I term asymetrical situations, from performances in spaces not designed for performances at all, to undesignated, potentially invisible interventions in public spaces and “official” institutions, which rendered such distinctions as “audience” and “performer,” irrelevant (except in concept).
So I was very up for an intimate setting, where a small group, audience and performer(s) could gather together and share an experience. This, at the time, was more interesting to me than the standard proscenium arrangement, dancing on a stage at remove from a relatively passive (receptive) audience.
In term of the physical attributes of the space, it’s size is a factor of interest, but also, it has an interesting fish bowl quality, although not so cold and oppressive as perhaps that term implies, of being totally visible to the ‘outside.’ Specifically, the performance space is visible on two adjacent sides: One occupied by a glass garage door, with a square window pattern that casts a modernist sense of order into the space, and the other by a large simple window. I find this compelling -- the transitional quality of a performance space that also is somehow very much in the world – a glass pane being the only separation from “real life.” I have an interest, given my background, in interactions both with the space of formal performance and also the real or if you prefer pedestrian world, and examining those distinctions, with my audience.
That first set of solo performances, May 2016, was called Material for Dance, and was performed on Saturday nights over four weeks. The primary motivation for Material was to share a sense of inquiry into the possible components of a dance, without identifying the outcome as a dance – a rather too neat package for the kind of anarchic interface I projected into my own history as a dancer choreographer coupled with my efforts to meet my audience where they were, which included their own histories and expectations.
The following Spring, I performed, what I called Andrew Marcus Disappearance, Solo: 4 Dances, with similar concerns although I felt it made sense to meet directly the presumed expectation that I would perform a dance or four separate dances, with some sense of an arc to completion (or incompletion), which in any case is one of the unavoidable expectations of most dance audiences. In terms of the context of my question, “what is a dance?” I would say that over the last 35 years it has been a primary concern of mine, though not always conscious, to chip away at the artiface and conditioning in my own understanding of dance, my purpose in doing it, and how I do it. Attendant questions are, among others: What is dance? With whom and for whom do I perform it, and teach it; and to what end?
So you see, my career, far from a process of progressive advancement toward unassailable and pristine sophistication, is, rather, marked by a regression to the most remedial of questions. Such is my fate: If I can, in my work, manifest an insult, an affront, an embarassment to the dictates of social order as given, and to entrenched hierarchies of meaning, value, and accomplishment (read oppression), I would in the end, have done something worthwhile. Although in truth, the emotional ground, and I think the tone of my work, although it may be challenging, is far from that of insult. It is among other things, an offering toward communion.
Following this second run of performances, Wendell Beavers, with whom I shared a history in the late post-modern scene in New York in the 1980’s and 90’s, approached me and suggested I engage those I considered my peers, in the Disappearance process of making performance work, in a series of duets at Floorspace. He offered to coproduce the series and proposed himself to be the first of my duet partners. I agreed and titled the series DISAPPEARANCE AND. The intent was, rather than impose the Disappearance methodology on another mature artist, to simply meet Wendell from the Disappearance perspective, in what he does, and see what happens.
Kim Nelson, who has studied Disappearance over a period of 5 years, if not specifically from a performance perspective (though she had had a career as a professional modern dancer), and whose primary orientation to dance improvisation had been, before meeting Disappearance, Authentic Movement, agreed to dance with me in the second set of DISAPPEARANCE AND performances. These two duets were performed in February and March of this year.
Throughout the DISAPPEARANCE AND process, I retained the desire to have what began to feel like my annual spring solo performance run. I decided, with Wendell’s agreement, to change the once per week format to the same three evening single weekend configuration as we had chosen for DISAPPEARANCE AND and that it would again be a co-production of Andrew Marcus Disappearance and Wendell’s SomaticPerformer LLC, as it felt that there was now a conceptual connection between my solos and the duet series. I then titled the solos DISAPPEARANCE ALONE, and performed them in May.
It became clear during this time that DISAPPEARANCE ALONE also had the potential to become a series to be performed by others, however in this case specifically employing the DISAPPEARANCE methodology. Kim Nelson accepted my invitation to perform the second solo set, after my own. Her performances are upcoming, this September 14, 15, 16.