Office Hours: Brujx
luciana achugar and André Lepecki
luciana achugar, a Brooklyn-based choreographer from Uruguay, has been making work in NYC and Uruguay independently and collaboratively since 1999. She is a two-time Bessie Award recipient and was nominated for a 2016 Bessie for Outstanding Production for her latest An Epilogue for OTRO TEATRO: True Love.
André Lepecki, Ph.D. is the Chairman of Performance Studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. A scholar at the intersection of critical dance studies, curatorial practice, performance theory, contemporary dance and visual arts performance, his writings include “Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement” and “Singularities: Dance and Visual Arts in the Age of Performance.”
André Lepecki: And that- I think, it was very very very very important, so if you have any ideas of not doing it tonight or whatever… I would suggest…
luciana achugar: Not to?
AL: -That you do it! That you do address people- that you do talk to the audience…
LA: That I do talk- Yeah no, I think my fear was- that everyone was gonna watch from the seats-
AL: Yes, and that might happen–
LA: -and that might happen depending on- I never expected what happened- which was almost like the opposite extreme- I was hoping it would be a combination and I would- I felt like that I had to say something to encourage responsibility- to take- to give people agency and to feel free to walk around- I don’t think the piece depends on that-
AL: No, but it was really beautiful!
LA: I like that kind of fragility on our end as performers that really truly the audience makes the work and that the ones that are seeing it from the seats are actually seeing- not just the work that we’ve created, but the work that the audience is creating and so I’m- in theory, and as conceptually I’m really interested in that- it’s also makes for a lot of, yeah, fragility or possibility for failure, which is again like conceptually interesting but like– and I never expected that so many people on stage would be blocking the view of the others and then I thought that today maybe I should say this happened yes I- this happened- I don’t know if I should tell them what happened, but to say, “Just so you know…” Even though I did tell them and if they weren’t having the correct view, I would imagine they would have taken it upon themselves to go somewhere else, but what if someone- you know cuz my mum came and she- she’s really old and her back hurts like she kind of stay- and I realize like “Oh-”
AL: But that actually makes me ask the question like where is the piece because… or what is the piece? Actually, you know? Because okay, so that have to do a little bit with my “dramaturgical” because- so we’re all at the beginning as an audience and you constitute us as an audience when you go up the stairs and you say, “You are the audience.” So at that point, it’s very important for us to know that. And then you give us a task. And then we go through that narrow corridor- which means like we- we become kinda individuated once again. There’s like this kind of- because it’s very narrow-
LA: I know!
AL: It takes a while. And then we go into this huge thing- the first thing- the huge space through the stage? And what I remember was the red was super strong- I was like, “This is red and gold!” Which is already kind of communist? But then there was like the three of you all the way up- and I remember like this word- I don’t know it in English, but in Portuguese- it’s “Azarpiyas”? this kind of mythical being- half woman/half bird?
LA: Oh it’s a bird-
AL: Perching over there- yeah and it’s like, “Okay this is great!” And it was like everyone’s kind of uncomfortable walking around the stage and we’re like being looked by you, so now we are the artist. And so this kind of, you know, distribution of labor all of that. And I’m like okay- this is great and some people are like trickling through the audience. And then you start coming towards us. So the only dramaturgical thing is like- as you came towards us, I realized very quickly, we’re on stage. And then you take your pants off and then you’re like lying in that position then the majority of the audience came in. But for those who are just arriving at that moment-
LA: They missed that!
AL: And they could think there was a kind of ritual- I don’t know- there’s an image that I think is very important or important experience you know that they missed-
LA: The plan was that we’re there. The audience comes in, they see us, and we have a moment there. And I got- that maybe it was my performance anxiety- I started to see some people and the front came down and I told them, “Let’s start going down!” Because I- I got scared. I mean I’m not saying just- but that was the plan. That we would just have a moment where I imagine the audience comes in, and we just look at each other. We’re on this side and you’re on that side and we’re just sitting and then we start. But I didn’t let that moment happen because I got- I have this fear of, “What is the audience gonna do?” And they didn’t just stand and watch- I guess some people wanted maybe- already some that started maybe? That was the people that came in first? They started to come down-
AL: To come down, yeah.
LA: So then I thought, “Oh it’s not gonna happen. They’re gonna come in, so let’s start!” Because then I thought the-practically speaking- if they’re all sitting then we’re… Yeah I guess I should- that’s a good observation because I think I reacted from an anxiety that that moment that I thought it was gonna happen- I immediately thought, “Oh it’s not gonna happen. Okay we have to go!” But maybe it was just not happening for those few that came down…
LA: And then in the back because it takes so long- they missed it completely. I’m glad you said that. Yeah tonight I’m just going to wait no matter what and-
AL: And I loved it, so- Okay maybe like a more proper interview question?
LA: No! I appreciate hearing that!
AL: So can you say a little bit about this piece in relationship to your other pieces? Like what’s happening?
LA: Yeah, I mean the last- I feel like I’m always really taking one step from one piece- just kind of stepping on the next stone if you wish… So the last show that I had done, it was in just, you know, danced in a dance studio and we were- there was a DJ- a house music DJ and I had been working for a few years on a method that I had started. Even from the beginning, when I started choreographing, I think during the creative process, I experienced a lot of frustration with this relationship between the concept that I’m dealing with and how to work. I have always, from early on and when I started making work, would be conflicted with like, “How do I get at this thing?” And being frustrated by not knowing. Or I’d have a kind of conflict between creating material- set material and improvisation- you know, live improvisation. And then also there’s that tension, but also I’ve always experienced this feeling that it’s the method of working that has to become the work. That otherwise it always feels like it’s a representation of ideas. And that’s what dance feels like- it’s against representation in a sense as a form. So I want to make the work be very much that, so then not creating movement that’s representing the idea. So because of that, it felt like a discovery. After many years, I started proposing to the dancers that instead of concerning myself like making material and making the work why don’t we- why don’t I just let go of that? And actually look at what is our practice and just create the practice and make the work the practice! And also because of these anti-capitalist ideas or realizing like “Oh, I’m always trying to resist making each work as a thing?”
AL: Uh-huh, a self contained object!
LA: Exactly! And that it’s like a practice- like it’s a body of work! And also like, there’s also this other aspect of like trying to free myself from the ego- like being caught up to get- some aspect of it is- am i succeeding you know like you know, ego trips-
AL: But it’s really great because you have like in your website you don’t have a manifesto you have a mission statement right? It’s called Mission- it’s really great actually!
LA: My website? I haven’t even updated it I don’t know-
AL: I have it here!
AL: So, you say you have a mission, which is different than a manifesto, and I think like manifesto is a very early 20th century affirmation of the artist as, you know, the one who transformed everything to the force of art. And I find that the mission is something simultaneously, on one hand, like it’s more ambitious, and on the other hand it’s more humble, right? “So my mission is this…” you know? “This is what I want to do.” And you say, “I make work as a practice of growing a new body- an uncivilized body, a decolonized body, and a utopian body.” And that’s super clear on yesterday. Like that piece- like what happens when the three of you start performing in this very strange costume, right? You got your butts out- the flesh is there but it’s not- and then you have like this piece of garment. And everything’s like between this kind of formation of- its kind of gymnastics, which is simultaneously- it’s like gymnastics- but it’s also labor, which is also kind of maybe dance? Which is kind of discipline? But it seems to come from some kind of imminent need to do that- there’s a kind of sacrifice going on. So there’s a lot of things going on at the same time with this relentless machine in the middle- this metronome, which really drives one crazy… so I was thinking like where is it that the piece is taking place? But I find it very interesting when you say, “I want to create this other body.” It would be maybe an ego trip to say, “I want to create this body for you and for your dancers.” But it seems to me that the body that you meant for you and your dancers is a body that is being offered for us to think about this as a possibility of life. And certainly things that happened last night was super interesting, in terms of the audience. Because I don’t know if you noticed, but one of the things that happens- like people start, of course, filming you-
LA: Taking pictures- that’s amazing!
AL: And all of a sudden, there’s like a few women that start doing this thing- like they’ll just put themselves in between. Did you see like- in between?
LA: I heard- someone told me- I had no idea that was going on!
AL: So there’s a kind of care of you- you and your dancing- you, the dance- not your dance-, the dancers… and so there’s this question of care- I, all of a sudden, I had like this moment when you showed me like okay maybe this is the moment in which this machine has to be stopped because I couldn’t stand anymore with the metronome before- no!
LA: I know! I wondered if people were gonna do something to the-
AL: But you put that into us. And then like this young woman that also put a blanket? Like a jacket between so you don’t hurt yourself. So, all of a sudden there was this “caring” thing- and I wonder if you could just talk about that?
LA: Yeah, well I did one showing- one work in progress- when I was kind of preparing. The tech person, I asked her because I was very insecure about it. “Is this just hor- does it seem-?” I think my insecurity was about, “Do we just seem extremely masochistic?” You know? That there is some of that. There is a sacrificial thing that- I mean I think that in my work, there was a lot of that- pain… and even though for many years, like I was saying, I’ve been dealing- I finally felt like I created or I found a method which was the “practice of being in pleasure.” I felt this- this is kind of- like a- I’ve done that for many years? Sorry, I’m answering your other question but I’m gonna get to it-
AL: No, its fine!
LA: I guess, in a way, I felt like I was finally liberating myself from all this work that I often feel like there’s a lot of harshness in performance that feels like almost like a Catholic thing that I’m reading myself off, but with the practice of pleasure it felt like it was… well pleasure and pain are very close!
LA: You know? But now with this, I felt it was something that I’ve also always been very interested in. Just as I’m interested in doing a performance that is a practice of being in pleasure- a practice of ridding ourselves of shame- that I feel like as a performer, as a woman, I want to do that work for myself with my dancers, but also for the audience. I want to communicate that and I want the audience to feel- not that I feel like the ideal is the audience participate or that they end up dancing with us- and in the last piece, it was more obvious when it was just three hours of us dancing and with music, it was the opposite of what you’re feeling where it’s it’s more like- unless you really don’t like this kind of music or you get tired and you leave early- by the end most people- the ones that stayed- ended up dancing with us because it’s just pleasurable to dance to the music. But my goal is not to make the audience do something. It’s not to make the audience help us or feel, but yes that empathetic feeling. I do feel like in yourself when you start to have some response where it’s like, “Oh this metronome, like this marking of time is like driving me crazy!” or “Am I supposed to care for them?” like that to me is the ultimate role of theatre in a sense- is to relate! Like that’s the real relationship of audience to performer- it’s like a kind of empathy
AL: Because I was thinking like if it’s an empathy or like the proposition of an invitation because I was blown away by the rigor- it’s a rigor that has to do with commitment and engagement as opposed to a kind of discipline- it’s a different kind of thing? Like the three of you there- you can see where you are with each other, there’s like slight deviations from the proper choreography because you allow yourselves to be tired or to moan or to just like have a glass of water and then come back to so–but something like this, it has very much to do with images of labor, like total actually committing to the labor or to the task at hand. And that lasts for quite a while! And at that time, also, the machine is very *begins snapping in rhythm* I don’t know- binary? It’s like a clock, so yeah, that’s what is driving me crazy! But then like in the “second half”- which maybe you know- the “second half” of the piece-
LA: No but there is, yeah.
AL: Like this other moment in which you take your clothes off and you finally embrace? You finally start to gather? And that’s the moment of relief and that’s also the moment in which the music changes and more kind of polyrhythmic kind of mumbo or whatever- like Milonga? I don’t know what it is, but there’s a kind of Latin American rhythm going on there.
LA: That’s his project! He’s been doing that project of creating this robot that- His project is the music at the end- I asked him to veer from his pro-because we met and we realized ike in his own project- he actually teaches in NYU- a class here- he got his doctorate here at NYU. He has a similar project on his end and mine with music where he’s- even though it’s a robot- he’s designing that like a program a kind of robot that improvises polyrhythmic like non-western music and he’s, you know, he has like an experimental salsa band like his interest is this also like this possible decolonization of music or like how we hear- that sort of thing. So that’s why we came together in this project and I just know-
AL: Did you work together before?
LA: No- we’d never, no. He saw my last project.
AL: Do you want to say his name for the-?
LA: Oh! Efraín Rozas– he’s from Peru. And he came here to do a music ed-? Musicology, I think? And his project is about, you know- he’s been interested in Latin American music and the Afro culture. And more specifically also like Santería and like this kind of- I never done research, but it seems like I always- what I want to create is actually some kind of trance-like ecstatic state through dance. And what’s interesting is that the last piece, we were doing in this very anarchic place because I was- in the last piece, I was interested in… “Okay, I created this practice now and I have this group- I have like a bigger group I have been working with for a while!” It was eight of us and we had been doing this practice for a while, and we started doing it on the streets and then when I brought it back into the studio with house music, it felt like it was somewhere between a party or performance and a ritual and we were getting into very trance-like states. But what was interesting is, to me, what my proposition in terms of authorship was- I was interested in- going back to this ego and stuff- like if I let go of my proving myself of a kind of mastery as author- what I’m interested in, what I’m making work in is in my love for my kind of activist- my belief in art and what dance can do now. If I go from there, then what I think I have to offer is this practice that I’ve been doing with the dancers. What happens if I just propose that and then we just… what we did in that piece, it’s very related to this too because it comes out of that and it’s this possibility of letting the thing- now this one’s very choreographed, but it comes as a response from this work for years. For years of just doing this practice- and that becoming… When I had choreographed through doing this method, I realized I don’t need to even choreograph- the method is the work- that’s the work! So it’s this kind of like- me talking to them and working with them, and then finally I wouldn’t talk. We would just put the clock for like one hour and we would just say, “Okay, we’re doing the practice!” And then by repeating it, for a year we did the practice. We just rehearsed- not what is the piece going to be, but this is the piece already. And by the practice of meeting and doing the work over and over, then we did a show! And that to me honestly it’s still like my favorite ultimate thing because it felt like it made itself and that I just proposed a way of being? And the work, the people, the community that we became and the history, the memory- like a form appeared though. That’s the thing that was fascinating is- I didn’t have to make the form- it made itself through that kind of practice and through the people. Like, you know, if the three of us were to have a score- I guess it’s like when you have a score- but it’s the same people and the passage of time in the memory of that becomes a piece! I mean to me, that’s the most fascinating-
AL: It starts to emerge.
LA: It emerges- so then this is discipline, like you said, you said discipline. I think it’s because I feel that was like a kind of possibility, to me it was kind of like practicing the possibility of anarchy because what happened is like we were in this practice of being in pleasure, in the sense of you decide to notice that there is the pleasure in being, and then listening like really through time as you’re waiting. You don’t have to create. Even improvisation, I realize, is a production of something- because improvising is- right? It’s a creative production! If you’re really just being in pleasure- you know, it could be just sitting here until some impulse comes… some other impulse… so then you start- that kind of makes you be in the listening- that to me, that undoes this hierarchy of the mind leading the body…
AL: But you know I was thinking like yesterday, which was so interesting, is that there’s a moment in which the more metronomic first half, repetition, you realize, as an audience, the patterns and this- again, like this very disturbing relationship between women’s bodies, labor, discipline, a kind of… And us there being interpolated by being so close to you… but one of the things that comes out is that you do- you give everything! After a while, you realize that the three of you are giving everything to this crazy machine- let’s call it like choreography or metronome or choreographic metronome or metronomic choreography? And it is actually like- I feel it because you give so much and we’re there with you that after when you finally touch each other and you do like this kind of flower whatever- that’s the moment that I felt like, “Okay now it’s our time to give!” Like it’s clear to see that right now the rhythm has changed-it’s polyrhythmic, it’s more playful. There’s a suggestion of dancing… Probably we need to dance! We should dance because it’s our time to give something back to you- that’s how I felt. You know, as opposed to let’s do this because luciana wants us to participate, you know, which is sometimes-
LA: That’s what I don’t want- that’s what I mean. I don’t want to tell people what to do- there’s a lot of invitation and asking- I think like I was talking to Efraín the composer afterwards and he said, “I wish I would have heard what you said.” But we talked about what I should say for a while and how much I should say or not and he was saying you know, “What’s beautiful to me is like, in a way, you asked for help.” Because we were like, “Wow! I’m surprised how much they were there with us!” Because we were afraid of the opposite and he said, “I wonder if it’s because you just asked… in a sense, you asked for help.”
AL: I think it’s important to ask for help especially right now in this world… and it’s important for people to learn that this possibility of choreography is- because I kept going- there was a moment I was so moved by the fact that I could no longer see you- each one of you because there’s a lot of people onstage right?
LA: Yeah I couldn’t feel the-
AL: So I could see like- I could see a little bit of a little bit of flesh here or maybe the jacket, but that didn’t matter because it was as if each one of the dancers were these attractors-
LA: Ah, and you were seeing the movement of the audience!
AL: And you can see the move- so I went out to be up
LA: That’s beautiful!
AL: And it was the most moving thing ever to see like these conglomerates of people like around some of you-
LA: Like migration-
AL: Someone just lying down, looking up and just listening- like migration exactly! So that’s when I start asking- this is really interesting because the work is not like “Look at me!” you know? Like it’s more like, “Let’s do something together!” you know?
LA: Yeah, because it’s boring if you just look at us, I would imagine right? I mean it could be, if you’re just in this demanding way- like maybe yeah if I was asking for you to look at every moment, to pay attention to all of i, to me, it’s partly a ritual and it’s partly a job like we’re- partly it is- I also have these fantasies of witchcraft or kind of…
AL: Can you talk a little bit about this because it’s Brujx?
LA: Yeah, it’s like I mean I was playing with like a Latinx… Brujx, you know? Yes, I think that I had this fantasy… but yeah there’s something to me that is about this gap between the experience of yourself and your energy- the organic sensorial experience of being. And the other like gap between our own experience and that and the others experiences. And that as a dancer, not just as an answer as a person in general, but this mystery of this inherent power in the liveness of the body. And what is dance? To me, dance can be instead of- like I was saying, it’s not a representation it’s more a “becoming”. There’s something about in what we do also that is like a drawing from the pelvic floor and the sexual organs. that’s why there’s a lot of like, you know, like the eroticism in this… but like a reclaiming of that energy as a potential magical, powerful energy which is true because it’s liveness right? Like I mean the sexual organs can create life! What’s more magical than that? And what’s interesting is- the three of us are mothers- the younger one just only has a one year old, so there’s something about labor. Like we’ve talked about labor, actually birth labor, and how we are reminded in the doing of this- we are reminded of that threshold of pain labor of a kind of like a necessary labor, but it’s of love. I mean this sounds very cheesy, but there’s something about the magic in a live body. I think also because, forgive me for being very dark, but I lost my brother- and my younger brother died almost two years ago and when he died, it was very unexpected and you know, I saw his dead body, and I was it was like a moment of- I come from a Catholic family. Like the body is there and people sit around it and I was very angry that people that were coming in where the body was were chatting, but then there was this old family member- this old woman who was friends with my mother that just sit there the whole time. And I remember I didn’t want to go in if anyone else was there. I just wanted to go in and I remember my instinct- what my body wanted to do was- I felt like I wanted to start doing dance. Like I understood what I make being there with my brother’s body that was still feeling alive in some way, but was dead. And I realized like “Oh I’m always talking about the body the body the body the body, but it isn’t just the body? It’s the live body, it’s-” And then when I came back, a couple weeks later I had to be teaching… I was teaching dance for movement research and I realized, I mean it’s like the most cheesy thing, but it’s like the magic of the live body! In being in my body and I feel like often what comes up is I think it’s the relationship from like the pelvis and that energy through the spine to the arms. Often it seems like representation of them, but I often feel like to be empowered to channel that feels like being almost like a witch! But also, one more thing that I want to tie into with that is that I want to read this book. I’ve heard this woman make this book about capitalism- and what’s it- Frederici is her name or something? Yeah, someone told me I should read that because I don’t have much time- I should read more but I do feel-
AL: Witches and capitalism that kind of thing?
LA: Something like that, yeah. Because I guess one of the things about witches was that they were too sexual, too powerful, too knowledgeable, healers, right? Things like this! So one of the things that I noticed after I read that stuff is that it’s not that I’m doing it because of that- I feel like I learned those things come up in the practice, in being, in these practices with people, in the studio, in myself and my practice. This comes up and then when I read about that, I realize, “Oh what I’m doing is actually that!” That is where the resistance of capitalism is and that’s where the feminism comes in. It’s just because I feel like when I’m- even the banging, I know someone was trying to help us not hurt ourselves and it is- it bruises our feet a bit… it is a little painful, but it feels really powerful! There is something about discipline that’s like when I went so far in this practice of pleasure, and being, and non-doing, which I loved, but I find also as an aging body, because I am 48 years old, I feel like there’s a power and feeling your muscles and discipline-
AL: In this kind of commitment?
LA: In this commitment! In this work- that work is both a suffering- that labor. It’s like there is an abuse of work and labor, but there is a power. And yes being in this time-like robot that is setting time, I mean, that to me, is like we are taking ourselves through this practice where we’re both like… to me, we’re showing a kind of oppression of how hard the body works. And sometimes I have images of slavery- of course I’m not a black body, but I feel like, “Oh I can only imagine this like being obligated to do this labor.” Like you know? Your back down, pushing like it feels like pushing the jeans to music. Like we have to push and through in this position where it felt like- it felt like we could become machines- I wanted to do these things. I was also playing with like the body- like machines being kind of almost coming out of the body. Like machines are almost like copies of bodies working-
AL: It’s definitely made by bodies, right?
LA: It’s by bodies and they have like things that look like bodies!
AL: I was thinking, like it’s very interesting because also, it felt like what you just mentioned about the passing of your brother and this kind of corporeal experience- also of birth and death- made me think of something that happens in the piece as well. On one hand- especially in the beginning, you can be more controlled because you’re still not so exhausted. I could see bodies in motion and there’s a moment when all of you start getting fatigued and specifically when you’re holding positions that look like yoga like this/that. All of a sudden the body starts to- or something that we recognize as being a body- starts to collapse and a flesh- the flesh starts to speak and to jiggle. So there’s like the nervous system- the involuntary movements that are completely part of it and one of your dancers were- there was belching a few times! Like the insides of the body entrails like pelvis, sweat, the flesh- and once the flesh takes over- then I feel like it’s not only longer like a division between improvisation and choreography which is still at a certain level of composition, but it really takes us to a different kind of understanding of life which is the kind of Zoe life. It’s a kind of Zool- it’s a kind of animal life- a kind of parahuman, under humans- it’s something else which is- these tremors of the flesh are actually coming to the fore and that’s the moment in which all of us, I feel, start to feel interpolated with this passion of like, “Okay so how is it that we are still participating at this metronomic society?” And that made me think a little bit about when you write here, when you say, “I make work from the rage of being a Latin American living in the belly of an empire in a post-colonial world.” And then you say, “I make work as a practice of growing as one would grow a plant”. And I’m just thinking like you know, there’s a really interesting relationship to another imagination of- let’s call it body for now, so that we understand the term- but not imagination of the flesh. And in that sense, I find like the way you have been working with women and through women’s politics and through a kind of understanding of, “How is it that women can disrupt the whole logic of capital through a kind of knowledge of the flesh perhaps?” I think it’s super interesting.
LA: I always… I guess what you’re saying makes me think- well in one sense, when I realized like I started thinking of like- What am I- I wanted to like be better at communicating to dancers, like how do I direct dancers because I don’t understand when I’m doing, when I’m performing, or improvising or doing certain things- I don’t know how to make them do that. And I’m not that kind of choreographer that’s very good at that direction. That’s why by doing a practice I- and what I realize is that, “Oh it’s almost like I feel like an animal!” But I’m not like pretending to be animal- what is it that’s making me feel that I’m able to undo- and then-
AL: It’s precisely becoming yeah?
LA: Yeah and then I realized, “Oh, it’s a kind of ridding oneself of shame!” That’s how I- when I start getting to more like being, allowing myself to be really erotic, and that feels more like an animal would be where they don’t have this self-consciousness of now it’s okay to be like this or now-
AL: And that’s why I love, like at the end, when the three of you are almost naked and there’s a kind of mambo- whatever- salsa? Whatever’s going on in terms of rhythms- it was like the opposite of what I would imagine to be like a “free dance”- it was more like I don’t know how to say it, but I just love the way you dance. It’s just like it’s kind of weird and you’re kind of very serious- it’s very interesting. I don’t know how to say it better than this, and it’s very non-dance studies, it’s very non technical. But it’s something like-
LA: Yeah, I don’t know-
AL: It’s just like rubbing against people-
LA: I think it is coming from- I feel like it’s just trying to be very much putting- like when I teach it, I say I try to- I found like one way of doing- I say like, “Let’s start from…” It’s like trying to put knowledge in the flesh, like you’re saying. To look, not to locate, but to listen. The possibility that knowledge is not in the brain, that there is knowledge in your hand, in your flesh, in your fashion, in your bones. So I mean, we can talk about it, but to actually practice that takes being in a different state. And one of the ways that I’ve been doing is it’s like I start practicing- I would make them because I realize like, “Oh when I’m in that state, what I’m doing is…” When I’m looking for example, if I’m getting into that state- I’m not thinking “André, mail, or chair, knee-” I’m just experiencing. It is- it feels more animal. I mean I don’t really know what it feels like to be an animal, but I don’t know. I call it a practice of seeing without naming or seeing without knowing, so that you look and before your brain attaches a name to what it’s seeing or knowing, you practice- which is completely a hundred percent, it’s not possible 100 percent unless you’re truly having a brain- what do you call it? You know if your left side goes down or something like that? But in that practice, it’s like you’re choosing to connect more to the part of you that is empathetic actually. It’s an empathetic practice. Like I look at that and I look at, instead of saying, “Oh it’s a-”, thinking or noticing that it’s a curtain- I just feel that I like that seeing- like my whole body seeing and then all of a sudden I’m more into my flesh, and that gets you into a state more like that, and what I realized is that that is a practice! Then I started realizing, “Oh this is a practice of empathy because then I’m not so concerned with the label I put on you” And actually I can like enter in a more empathetic- I do feel like that is a more- yeah I don’t know sometimes I think, “Oh I should try to teach that for-” It feels like good for conflict resolution or something… like seeing the other not as another. Then I realize like, “Oh it’s a kind of…” You start to see- where’s the seeing? Is the seeing when you don’t name it? You don’t separate it from yourself? And then you notice that fabric- you can kind of feel that? And then is that outside of me or is that part? Is my body just here? Is my-? But I love that- I realize like, “Oh your body’s just your-” I mean, that’s your studies- in your writing and everything you’re talking about that-
AL: It makes me think of the laws and the logic of sensation but also like that- yesterday I was definitely seeing and perceiving, but I was also sensing. But I was also sensing because of what everyone else was sensing at the same time, so this like this kind of field of sensation and I’m like, just like people displace themselves in space following…. I’m pretty sure like the sensations and the effects also go to modulations due to whatever is going on with the mass with all the reflections and that is really great yeah! Like if you want to say one last thing or one last comment or where you want to go with your next project or if you feel happy with the piece?
LA: Yeah I don’t know I’m always- I’m very self-critical. I think I just wanted to say one more thing about discipline when you were mentioning discipline- I feel like it’s important to say, I don’t know, in this work I feel like there’s a question or a problem- to me, it’s a question of what do we have to do or how do you deal with- how can we be in a state where we’re not separating productivity and discipline on one end, and time, you know? This cup- this way of being in the world where this division of time- this relationship determined productivity and what’s valuable and that discipline- that I feel like goes into, in terms of polarity, towards that kind of more authoritarian fascism, if you think of like a body ballet. Or like there’s also from the perspective of practices of dancing and how to be in one body like something more technical, more formal, more- and then this other end of like no form or-
AL: That’s not what I meant-
LA: Yeah no no I know- I know you- I feel like I’m grappling with that because I always feel like I have this tension or like love of form and attention that I want that- the like that’s why the other piece I’d let- I said I’m gonna let go completely of form.
AL: But there’s still some kind of like- so in a way it is kind of what I mean because they have to do like- yes, there is movement that is rigorous because it comes from a disciplinarian position which is about technical and the voice of the author- “do this”- but there’s another kind of rigor which requires a different kind of notion of discipline which is kind of an imminent surrender to the necessity of being rigorous and committed even to physical practice that may lead you to a certain kind of pain or displeasure at a certain moment, but on the other hand like you do that for the sake of something else?
LA: Yeah right- it takes you through another state.
AL: Yeah it takes you to another place and I feel that you do that in the second half. And that’s why I can see like without that- “suffering”- because in the first half of the piece, it would be impossible to get to the stage, to the moment in which you take us together for that moment of the flesh, so I think that they’re both- it’s very beautiful.
LA: I think it’s also like this question of, because I guess maybe, it’s because I have questions about anarchy and also again, I haven’t deeply studied anarchy, but I think that there’s an overall idea like it where it’s in such a moment of like there’s more and more fascism rising everywhere… like I hope not it’s literally so scary-
AL: You won’t have to go to Uruguay-
LA: I know but Uruguay is scared because they’re like “We’re so little”- but I think that at the same time there’s all this consciousness or like uprising that has been going for a while of like maybe capitalism’s you know- Before, there was a more of a passivity of like this is it! This is the best system, you know, we gotta accept it! And now there’s a realization like- what the planet, you know all these things, and yet- I mean to answer your last question, I guess I do feel I don’t know if I feel like, “Oh this is like the best piece ever!” Or anything like that… I feel like I’m more- I was very confused about it and very confused about how- is this a cop-out to have the audience…? Depending so much in the audience and stuff like that… and then what I realize now, “Oh it’s these questions that are…” What I realized now after having performed in, like I said, when I talk to the audience, I do feel like I only understand it when it’s with the audience. What I’m really doing, I understood what the rigor, and that my interest in all this, that we were creating for, in terms of its relation to the body and dance, but in terms of a proposition to an audience, I feel more clearly now after last night, that it’s- that it’s a lot about questions of a desire to make art from the place of thinking that dance to me is ancestral- it’s before theater, so dance in the theater- I feel like the responsibility that it has to ask questions about what is the possibility like, you know, it started with this beginning of Western civilization coinciding with it like dance/move entering that. So I feel more clearly how, “Oh that’s what I’m doing…” I really want to ask myself and the world and dance in like why are we framing dance here? Like this relationship to our civilization and what’s-
AL: I was just thinking, to go back to your mission, because the first line you say- “I make work as a practice of growing a new body which is uncivilized and decolonized”. And the second line says, “I make work as a practice of building a new theater”. And then I was thinking there’s this great moment in- Derrida’s reading Artaud, you know? And Artaud also wanted a new body and a new theater and in order to create a new theater you have to make for yourself a new body and in order to make- and if you make for yourself a new body, then a new theatre, a new dance will exist. And all of these have to do with liberation of desire, a different understanding of what pleasure is, a different economy, different politics, so I feel like yeah….
LA: Thank you, I’m so glad you were able to be there and I’m gonna take your advice- I’m glad you said that because I think there was a fear- that beginning I think it was like from fear that I jumped-
AL: And then I noticed actually you were the one ahead of everyone else And I was like “Ooh maybe Luciana got a little deflect.”
LA: I totally did! They were like okay if you want to… like that’s not what we were gonna do but…