Move the music

My previous piece about college may have left you with the impression that this term has been nothing but frustrations. Well, a much of it has been nothing but frustrations but there have also been good things and I’m hoping the worst is now behind me. So, some good things…

The first couple of weeks we spent a lot of time being different materials: glass, metal, rubber, acid, melting butter, crumpled paper, that kind of thing. There were one or two moments, as I bounced around like a rubber ball or took on the form of a dissolving sugar cube, that the “what am I doing with my life?” and “what if my friends could see me now?” questionss crossed my mind but once those were dispensed with it was all interesting stuff — how to imbue our bodies with these qualities.

Once we’d explored this we had materials, played by different people, interacting. Occasionally this seemingly silly and mundane idea resulted in strong little scenes, like two rubber bands being pulled apart but struggling and longing to get back to together. Suddenly they’re no longer people pretending to be rubber bands but it’s a little emotional scene. Hurrah!

Each week we’re in a different small group to create a new little piece of theatre to present to the whole class the following Monday afternoon. I usually find our daily creation group sessions incredibly frustrating, as I’ve mentioned before. I’ve realised how difficult I find working in a group unless the members work well together, something you can only achieve over time unless you’re very lucky.

For our current three week project I guess I’ve been very lucky, because it’s been a joy — I guess we have the right mix of people to manage an easy going democracy that gets things done. The task was to visit galleries and choose a painting to create and perform, and we settled on Quattro Stagioni by Cy Twombly at the Tate Modern, a “painting in four parts” (1, 2, 3, 4). I wasn’t wild about doing an abstract painting, and my one visit to the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston didn’t do much for me. But it’s been fine. I’ve found interpreting an abstract painting far easier than a figurative one, in which I get all caught up in my head about whether I’m being too literal or not. And I’ve even started enjoying the painting for what it is, so I’m resolving to be more patient with abstract stuff in future.

In other classes we’ve also moved on from turning paintings into movement and are now working from music. This is much easier, thankfully, although still tricky — we can’t simply dance to the music (all of which has been instrumental so far, mostly classical with a dash of Miles Davis) but have to somehow embody the ever changing feeling of it. Move the music. Easier said than done, but still easier than moving blue, or red, or any of that nonsense.