PAF – an invisible academy

I wrote my last post from my room (above) in PAF – Performing Arts Forum, located in the village S:t Erme north east of Paris. It’s a self-organised space in an ex-monastry for people into performance and art.

I just finnished reading The Name of the Rose that is set in a monastry, which creates a kind of strange fictional backdrop for my mind – allthough I don’t think my stay here will turn into semiotic-philosophic murder-mystery. Anyways PAF is based on very simple principles:

  • Don’t leave traces
  • Make it possible for others
  • The do-er decides
  • (Think them interrelated)

I’ve only spent a night and a day here so far but it’s extremely inspiring. It is open the whole year and there are amazing spaces to do things. As far as I understand it’s financed a little bit like a hostel. You pay 14 euro per night for a bedroom and access to all the spaces. In the entrance there is a schedule where you can propose activities for the coming days.

Tomorrow the philosopher Nina Power, who wrote One Dimensional Woman, will start a seminar. (Introduction in Swedish at Popvänster)

The place also reminds me of the idea of an Invisble Academy, present in Grant Morrisons epic anarcho-occultist comic adventure The Invisibles, which I unforteantley couldn’t find any image of.

100 Dancers – It’s far from the studio to the streets

100 Dancers in Copenhagen

I’ve spent a week in Copenhagen at the 100 dancers workshop. The aim was to do improvised public dance performances. Although I haven’t had time to seriously think through what we did I have some thoughts that I want to share with the ones who were in the workshop as well as people interested in the field of public dance improvisations.

Big thanks to the organizers as well as all the people who were there and engaged in the process. In a time when Europe is shaking it’s nice to get together with people from all over the place and share thoughts, experiences and dance.

Spending 3 days in the studio to prepare for 4 days of street performances was probably a mistake. The labs and proposals that came in the studio’s were nice and had an important function to get the group together, but once we took them to the streets it was obvious that most of it didn’t apply. There is a long mental, spatial, performative distance between the studio and the streets and I think we would have gained a lot by doing stuff in town far earlier on in the process.

The studio is safe, defined and easy to overview. The city is rock solid, uncompromising and unpredictable. The gaze of the audience also pushed us into street performance aesthetics that we were not at all prepared for such as pantomime and clown work. Leaving the everyday life regular clothes style and starting to dress up made things even worse and at some point it all looked like amateur theatre. People running around dressed for show, but with no show to give.

At that point I really lacked a basic confidence in dance as a practice. It’s actually quite simple – bodies moving through space with spatial, temporal and compositional elements in mind. 100 dancers with pacing, listening and moving together would be enough and enjoyable for both the audience and the performers to engage in.

What generally did work was to create intimate situations in the public sphere. It creates a strong and simple dynamic. Many of the scores proposed non-social interaction capabilities in a neat way. Here are some examples of scores, I can’t remember who came up with them:

  • Undulation. Standing in a group with a direction. Breathing together, then moving with a smooth wavelike motion. Walking with one step per breath. Enhance the undulating wave untill the arms go up breathing in and the upper body going down breathing out.
  • Ripple. Gathering in an extremely tight but standing pile of bodies. Slowly creating space in the group. Expanding. Breaking out in a contact duo with somebody. Fill the whole space with dance. Coming to stillness. Running to a new center, a new pile and starting over again.
  • Orpheus & Eurydike. One person sit on a bench, another approach. They have a flirt and a hug. The one sitting there first goes away, stops and look back. Another one comes by and it start over.
  • Entering a space in a conscious and listening way. Dancing with the whole group in mind.
  • Slow motion.
  • Being with. Standing with a couple of meters distance, looking at each other, giving it time. Leaving, finding a new person to be with.