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Sometimes there are just works which take your breath away, this is one of those. Infra by Wayne McGregor on the Royal Ballet. See it if you get the chance – the movement, music and design all merge to make one totally absorbing, moving work. Music by Max Richter one of my favouritist composers.

This is a work that I did along with acr0mosh for Leigh Warren and Dancers
The idea was to see the music. Each musician (from the Zephyr Quartet) was individually mic’ed and passed into a Max patch by acr0mosh which did some audio processing wizardry and which was then passed to my work in Touch Designer and then projected.
This had to fit in between my studies, but I was pretty pleased with how it went, and its going to the Netherlands later this year! (which I can’t accompany due to stupid exams. Blast)

Bel from Audaci’s comment made me thunk and will hopefully change my mindset as I’m woeful at taking my own advice.

But really I should try to be proud of the baby steps of progress so far.  I have learnt stuff, I may not know as much about <insert enzyme/hormone here> as some others but I’m learning stuff.

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and now for something completely different

On another note, i saw Leigh Warren and Dancer’s new piece, Seven at the Adelaide Fringe, which was great. It was terrific seeing my friends perform and obviously relish the performance, though it made me more than a little wistful.  But really, despite the workload and the constant feeling of overload, I’m really enjoying medicine and can look back on my performing fondly and without too much sadness.

I do miss being creative though, and have signed up for our Health and Human Rights Group as junior media rep, which hopefully will prove fun.  The cynic in me says that no way a small bunch of wide eyed med students can never make much of a difference which  is balanced against the wide eyed optimism that the sentiment is worth working for and that we certainly can make a difference to communities in need.

I also miss teaching, I really have to find somewhere to teach…

Bel’s post on the transition from creative industries to medicine made me think over my transition too. (just to add to the list, here is another ex-dancer turned med student)

I enjoyed my time in the arts. I loved it. I loved the camaraderie of creating a performance, performing it, touring with it and growing with it. I loved many of the people I met, I loved the thrill of creating my own work, realising my vision.  I guess why I left was of practicality, and also a feeling that I needed a change.  I was satisfied with what I had done. Like Audaci I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it made sense to me, and it seemed ‘right’ and still does despite my whinging and bitching.

There was certainly an element that it was no longer as fulfilling as it was before. Those who’ve read this for a while know my issues with the whole system of publically funded art, the politics of getting the money and also a certain angst of, what is it, cosmically speaking, all for?  I never did get a good answer to that, but along with a feeling that dancing was no longer the most fun I could have and the very real prospect of being ‘damaged goods’ due to bodgy lungs, it seemed ripe to change.

 “The one thing that art and health have in common is the human experience.  Across both you will see the full spectrum of human suffering and elation.  The former may be a more abstract, disconnected version of, but the link is there.  Across both you will find your mind challenged, twisted in ways you never thought possible, you’re exposed to depths of knowledge hitherto unimagined.  So similar, but so different.  The problem solving too, the starting with nothing and creating a whole picture is so similar.  You need that same arsenal of skills, even though the skills themselves may differ.  And the sense of personal challenge is the same. “

I was just talking about it to a friend of mine, and I really do see a continuum across my eclectic background.  The challenges, the element of the human – its frailty, its beauty and its many faces, the drawing and synthesis of ideas from disparate sources,  the learning, the teaching and sharing of knowledge and experience, it is, as Bel says, same same, but different.

I don’t know if this post makes any sense, but I’ve been trying to get down some thoughts as I muddle my way through this med school thing.

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for bloggers/forum junkies

To nick a phrase found on Orac’s blog, ‘the stupid, it burns’.
I happen to be a forum and blog junkie and recently on one of the many I visit, an argument appeared as to what a ‘dancer’ is.

Dancers are one of the few groups of people who are so insanely ego-centric that they would get uppity over the correct usage of the designation of dancer. They have elevated it into a hallowed title, conveying an aura of ‘dancerness’, of ability, passion blah blah blah.
So some argue the strictest dictionary application – that dancer is one who dances in public for pay.
Which is patently stupid when considering the rich heritage of other cultures where dance is simply a way of life. The advent of ‘dance’ and indeed ‘art’ as a profession is very recent, these activities have been a part of all human cultures for thousands of years, pretty much as soon as culture developed – from caveman days of rockpainting and jewelry making.
But no, bobbleheads still insist that a professional arts corps is necessary because without it There would be no jane austen, no bach, andy warhol, no great musicians, building would only be functional, walls would all be one colour’ I mean, jeebus, if we didn’t have professional artists, holy jeepers batman, colour would never have been invented!!!!
also highly amusing because one of Warhols ideas was that art is potentially anything one considers to be art. And that art and not art is a blurred distinction

Other knuckleheads content that to be worthy of the term dancer one must have ‘passion’ for it, as if that is a useful definition. You might as well make ‘dancerness’ a criteria.

Interestingly it was only students and non-professional dancers who were all up in arms. My pet theory is that dancers as a whole are so mindboggling insecure that they need a shibboleth to feel secure in themselves and their art. They need a way to differentiate themselves from the mass of the ‘other’.
Or perhaps, as some of them will not assign the title of ‘dancer’ to themselves, feeling themselves unworthy of the title, it is because of the deification of dancers and artists generally – something that John Carey talks about in ‘What good are the Arts?’.
“talk of the immortality of art, in the absence of a belief in God, is childish and self- deceiving”

I was recently at a shindig for dancers and dance artists and had to exert considerable self control not to explode in an indignant mess.
I love the arts, despite being a grouchy bastard, I really believe and enjoy them, but recently I am seeing that we, as artists, could possibly be the worst thing that ever happened to art.

On several occasions I’ve been to talks and showings about ‘research’, movement ‘research’ and the like.  As a budding scientist and also just because I have a brain, its pissing me off – I am more than willing to accept the need to discover new things in art practice and that it requires investigation. But what I’ve seen is absolute rubbish which is indulgent, stupid and justifies why people hate contemporary art.

Case A.
A  choreographer and dancer have been given 4 weeks of rehearsal space time to research her project, which was vaguely looking at Communication Technologies, pas and present.  So I dutifully trundled out, as my practice is technologically mediated and I do love a good stickybeak.   I then spent the next hour physically holding myelf in so I didn’t launch myself onto stage and hurt someone – either that or holding in bales of laughter at the sheer idiocy of it.  It was actually offensive how insanely stupid the showing was.   It consisted of 2 dancers in various scenarios looking at communication technologies
*Idea one.  Stand on one leg, balance while wriggling fingers like they do in bad hacker movie. This was supposed to represent SMS-technology.
*Idea two. Hold hand to ear like you had a phone and rush around.
*idea three. Do the same as above but run from the back of the stage to the front of the stage, stopping suddenly and running back
*idea four.  Walk in circles rapidly. Apparently this was to convey the idea of radio wave propagation.
*sitting down while flapping hands – smoke signals

Case B.
this time a 2 week research grant.
Which developed a ‘call and response’ technique using sensors.
I mean WTF? A cellist plays a phrase. the dancer moves a limb hooked up with a bend sensor which triggers a pre-recorded track. Woop. Who the hell cares? Its old, and uninteresting to boot.

Case C.
I overheard two choreographers passionately talking about this ‘research’ they were going to do on tango  dancing.  I like tango dancing. I can’t do it, but it sure is awesome to watch.  However the premise for their research was ‘what if i put my leg here, instead of here’.  I mean, what if? Its exactly the same as tango, except every so often my leg goes on the outside instead of the inside – amazing.

While these may all be necessary stages in their arts practice to develop as artists, I really have to question, does the public purse have a duty to fund them? Perhaps I’m just grouchy, but for me, these projects, answer and deliver nothing of use.  It seems that this sot of thing is better left to dicking about in loungerooms.
A problem is the funding structure that I am talking about in particular – which is specifically for ‘research’ and not to be outcome oriented. But perhaps it should be – maybe it will filter out stupid, if people know they are supposed to put something on.  One thing to say about free market capitalism is that it forces some sort of applicability due to the need for public consumption – it does limit innovation as it means work has to ‘populist’ (not always a bad thing), but the state supported model goes the other way, and lets artists get all carried away with their own importance and encourages them to waffle about directionlessly.

Three works by Nacho Duato is lovely.Really really lovely. I took a friend who is admittedly not into the contemporary dance thing, and there is little better to take someone like her to. The dancers are just phenomenal, they move with strength and precision and such liquid grace- it made me more than a little jealous.
However his work is, same-y, for wont of a better one. The three works are vague and similar in movement style, but when his signature is creating glorious long liquid phrases of movement with witty and whimsical musicality, I really didn’t mind that they were similar.  He has a nack for picking gorgeous music, and a talent for arranging the space with bodies, light, costume and set brilliantly.  In short, a breathtakingly beautiful night of dance – for me, it does what dance does best, convey something visceral, something one can’t express it in words.

‘Alas’ also by Duato was a huge disappointment after the triple bill.  The elements were there – Nacho’s choreography, Thomas Pandur as director and Wim Wenders gorgeous film, “wings of desire’ as the text. But somehow in bringing it together, it sucked.  Once you put dramaturgy with dance, you had better damn well make sure its good. This was overblown and self indulgent.  The images were beautiful, the dancers exquisite, but the movement and musicality lost out, the digital projections were woefully bad, the use of voice and text basic and uninspired.  Nacho himself played the angel Demiel, and it was bad.  He can’t move as well as he  used to, and in stark relief against his dancers its painfully obvious, as my less kind friend said, he had no acting ability, nor personal charisma. It seemed largely a vehicle for him to take off his shirt, look distractingly handsome and writhe a bit.  The end image, while lovely in conception (the dancers climbing up a column to heaven, the floor flooded with the angel writing on the ground splashing) was hilariously bad as Nacho splooshed around in the flooded stage, periodically splashing meaningfully as he did 1st year contemporary dance floor work.
Kudos to him for trying something different, but very disappointing after the sublime beauty of the triple bill

Construct by Tanja Liedtke.
It was superb. Clever, witty, fun, accessible.
The dancers are just superhuman, capable of feats of control, daring beyond comprehension all with a cheeky insouciance.
Great use of props, and staging. See it.
It was incredibly difficult to watch, as I had worked on one of the precursor pieces to it, and could still hear Tanja giving us the task (and incidently getting cranky as I wasn’tn doing it very well)(and now I see how its supposed to be done, totally fair enough), but a really special work.
The team which pulled it together are truly astonishing. And lovely to boot.

Mortal Engine – Chunky Move
Unbelievably irritating. It was like watching the windows media screen saver for an hour.   It lost the charm and  connection that ‘Glow’ their previous work had.  I didn’t feel any connection to the ‘narrative’ or the dancers – it was all engine, with little of the ‘mortal’.
I was so totally distracted by the technology – which as an artist who is working on similar things, I know is not all that super mega difficult, that I lost interest in the work as a performance and spent my time rebuilding their effects on my platform.
It really looked like a first stage work – where they found cool effects and made up dances to go with it, incidentally.

I think there is some potential in dance and technology but it is elusive and difficult.

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