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The text below is a project proposal: conceptualized, revisited and revised. It is written and rewritten at different moments and displays a change of thinking and framing of the project in relation to the passing of time. At first, it served as an outline for a research. Then, it was the centrefold in our investigations. Later, it became a reminder of the origins of the work. And later yet (as the performance Kneeding crystallized), it was almost completely discarded.

Plain text are written in August 2008

Highlighted text is written in the summer of 2009

Strikethrough is invalidated in the summer of 2009

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JEFTA – a void KNEEDING.

I should do a solo because it’s the last thing that I would do. I should do a trio because it’s the first thing that I would do (if not a duet). It is quite inconceivable and frightening for me to work on a solo, not only because I am not used to it but also because it is centripetal. For me, solo has been a format that makes sense only in relation to problems and confrontations, something I hitherto have not wanted to endeavour upon. Group-dynamics is for me much less complicated than my own dynamics. I think by doing this I am asking for trouble. That is why I choose to work on a trio, but in the process we try to work as if on three solos. More than choreographically and compositionally speaking, I mean in terms of how we associate with what we do: we have an intimate relation to it. We use the centripetal focus, but in three performers simultaneously. However, I want my problematics of the solo format to be productive, by using and even abusing them. I want to confront my reservations and iffy impressions of this personal method of working, by using and even abusing it. There are many no-no’s existent in my thinking of the solo a personally driven work that I want to discard in favor of elasticity of conceptions, working-methods expressions and materials. Hence, the first ones are listed hereunder in a no problem-list:

  • SELF-REFERENTIALITY no problem
  • THERAPY no problem
  • INTERNALITY no problem
  • SEARCH no problem
  • PSYCHOLOGY no problem
  • (SELF-)EXPRESSION no problem
  • INDULGENCE no problem
  • DEVOTION no problem
  • PROCESS no problem
  • DISCOMFORT no problem
  • SLEEPING IN THE STUDIO no problem a little problem
  • EXPOSURE no problem
  • FEELING GOOD no problem
  • UNINTELLIGIBILITY no problem
  • FEELING no problem
  • FLUFFY no problem

Recently, I find A year and a half ago, I found myself interested in myself for the first time in my life. More specifically, that I analyze and evaluate how I function: my thoughts in relation to my actions, my inside in relation to my outside, what people don’t see (or what I think they don’t see) in relation to what they see, intrinsic movements in relation to external movements. The mechanisms at play between psychology and physicality, between states of mind and bodily manifestation, between internal processes and expression, I now find amusing engaging. But I don’t want to work on my identity nor express my insides for the sake of telling something. I am interested in how the work can be centered around me without a personal perspective being the agenda. I therefore want to invert the method of working: the source being me and my self-expressions albeit constructed through others and through the integration of external sources; using others to create the (fictional) (hi)story of me, yet letting an air of self-centeredness prevail. This method not only implies a personal disconnection to the making of the material but it also shifts the aboutness from being about saying something to doing something. The attempt lies in formalizing a system based on personal needs and “problems”. The “problems” can be manifold and belong to any register: personal, emotional, physical, relational. In the project we succumb to the idea that we can work on our problems through movement.

The source will be dance therapy:

Dance therapy, or dance movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement (and dance) for emotional, cognitive, social, behavioural and physical conditions. It is a form of expressive therapy. Certified dance therapists hold a masters level of training. Dance therapy is based on the premise that the body and mind are interrelated, that the state of the body can affect mental and emotional wellbeing both positively and negatively. In contrast to artistic dance, which is usually concerned with the aesthetic appearance of movement, dance therapy explores the nature of all movement. Through observing and altering the kinesthetic movements of a client, dance movement therapists diagnose and help solve various psychological problems. As any conscious person can move on some level, this therapy can work with any population.

To apply on myself movement as a trigger of therapeutic self-expression for making art I find a horrendously appalling thought. I am very interested, however, in seriously attempting just that: to find movement that is expressive of my thoughts, states of mind or even my subconscious directly working on what I consider beneficial for myself. Also, I want to investigate the appearance of (dance) therapy: the aesthetics, the expressions, the codes, the qualities. The activity of connecting internally for the sake of solving or searching for something; the movement from inside to outside, are things I want to attempt to not only exercise in the process but also in the performing of the sessions.

What happens when dance therapy becomes performative? What happens in the slide between dance therapy and artistic dance (as they call it above), where dance therapy should happen in a closed, safe environment with the aim of self-reflection and artistic dance should produce the opposite, namely activation and reflection in the viewer?

As a procedure I want to work with people who make my performance through being my therapists. The therapies or practices can be fictional or not, but the therapists should act from a position of knowledge and belief. I initiate, I am the material subject, I make choices and I author (I can lie). But my collaborators, or dance-therapists, have a certain power. Since I am the client, they hold more knowledge than me, sometimes even the truth, even though this lies inside of me to discover. I am all ears. I am all body. Together we find out how I function in relation to movement. The therapists have a methodology of working on and with me to unblock my patterns and problems through moving, accessing ways of moving for my wellbeing, creating connectedness by movement etc. There are multiple therapists. Through this I want to suggest an ever-changing, flexible performative process, that doesn’t consist of one therapy or practice applied, but many.

With my dance-therapists I can talk about the artistic process outside of the studio, as with anyone else. In the studio, however, it is strictly a therapy session, this “strictly” being for us to construct. In the studio, we work on JEFTA. For therapy to take place there needs to be a problem to work on. A problem can be a blockage, a desire, a question, a need or a curiosity concerning my body or my mind that implies using my body in movement. The problematics of the “problems” are simplified and given a clear frame. Hence, procedures that deal with these “problems” in a very concrete and physical way are invented. By layering these procedures and by being busy with them for a longer duration we design a practice. I think of this practice as something we do that is not training, process, nor product, and yet is the thing that is all three at the same time. I think of this as a “working on myself” actively. The practice is not about creating a true therapy that we believe in. It is experiential yet fictional, and not to be shared as a therapy.

There is a devotion to our own bodily experience, i.e. creating a sensorial body, not set in time nor space, and a trust that through this experience an audience can have an experience. We as performers work on ourselves, affect ourselves, do and undo ourselves. We use our bodies to do that, explicitly and actively so: the expression becoming that of an activity. The attempt will be to first find these materials, then layer them, working on macro and micro levels of movement. There will be practice, in order to become virtuous in the doing, with a principle of constant rejuvenation. Then we will create a score, which complies of rules as to what happens when and where. This is a score, which is open to change: which in fact accommodates change, supplying a way to dance this material with a highly present yet invisible structure.