SWAN: "Coniunctio" (part one)
“Why SWAN?” I am asked. When a certain kind of image comes to the artist, she responds. The image impresses upon a receptive intellect the way intuition does: unbidden and on its own accord. Devoid of clever witticisms or conceptualizations, the image beckons attention for different reasons altogether. Archetypal in nature, SWAN offers a portal; embracing the call, the artist brings to light what resonates for this time. Why SWAN? For all of the known and unknown reasons the image itself evokes: qualities and ways of being in the world that desire remembrance.
Over the years, I have identified and attended to a central thought in my work: the empathic response through aesthetic experience. “What,” I have asked myself over and again, “is translating across the chasms, across cultures, across time?” I think is has something to do with particular attentiveness to the danced moment, a perception that life is being lived in this unique manner, that dancing is a way of being. And the dance, a form combining those elements that by chance and by mastery engenders a shattering that renders the aesthetic and empathic moment at once. Being becomes transparent.
In my teaching, writing, lectures, doctoral research, labwork, and performances, the problem of empathy—an inquiry addressed by 20th century German scholar Edith Stein—has therefore come to particularize my aesthetic purview. Since childhood, I have been fraught with the struggle to articulate, accurately, the palpable experience of bodily-felt empathy. Looking out at the peopled world through these eyes, I have taken note of feeling a kind of sadness—for the people, and my own: mine for not wanting especially to be in the world, and the people, perhaps for being in the world too much.
The breadth of my work, crystallized through a meditation on a poetics of the body—the felt inferiority of, relationships to, attitudes about, perceptions regarding, feelings for, and the poetic (empathic) possibilities therein—informs this evening’s dance. Performance is communal in the ancient sense of the term; thus my desire is that you exit this portal with an experience that sheds light on something having to do with you—thoughts that this work is an occasion for— perhaps insights into your own bodily being, and by extension, a re-awakened and particularized recognition of the shared and fragile content of all bodies that make up this world.
SWAN: a poetical inquiry in dance, text & memoir ~ part two, "rubedo"
Guest Artist: Adela Hyeyeon Park, pianist
Installation Artist: Ray Valdez
My work evolves from being drawn, lifelong, to the palpable yet silent habitations of persons in their bodies and the instinctive empathic responses I experience therein. My choreographic process reaches for, gathers, and develops a compassionate relationship with such habitations through this body, and there discovers the poetic gesture, —felt corporeal realities resonant and readily perceived by the tactile mind. In performance, I allow time for the content of the poetic moment to penetrate the performed space, honoring the potential for some translation to occur along the nervous system of your body, awakening a shared knowing of how we are this body, together, —a knowing from a distant or even recent past, —ways by which we live, imagine, witness, dream, or suppose a grand communion.
SWAN is a poetic investigation of the ‘swan’ image found in myth, music, poetry, literature, philosophy, alchemy, dance, and art. Weaving memoir and scholarly research, the project, in its entirety, contextualizes my ongoing query on a poetics of the body through meditations on aesthetic life, a knowing body, poetic gesture, ageing, and theories on poetic perception. As a poethical pursuit, Swan recognizes, articulates, and underscores an integrative understanding of empathic experience and human compassion.
SWAN "Hieros Gamos"