September, 2014 – Mark Mann Response #2 to Scars are All the Rage Rehearsal

Choreographer: Marie France Forcier /  Interpreters: Molly Johnson, Louis Laberge-Côté (Justine Comfort absent) / Location: hub 14 Toronto 

I really enjoyed the rehearsal yesterday, especially the tonal shifts between the first dance you guys were working on and the second and third.

It was really interesting to see the action of serendipity: the way you prepared occurrences that you couldn’t anticipate, but only recognize when they appeared. I liked observing how you ushered in the surprise, and the complicity of the dancers in your searching. Their trust.

So much of the work is solving problems, of course. I don’t know the kinds of thoughts that you have when the phrasing presents a dilemma, but it looks like an action of very careful letting go. Releasing the bodies, seeing what they’ll do.

It reminded me of how solutions always have this quality of recognition. It’s always, “Of course!” The answer was there all along.

I’m really excited about the tension between visioning (wanting) and seeing (welcoming) in a … forgive me for using such pompous language, but I want something with more time and earth in it than “creative” … generative process. I felt the searching and waiting, or the trying and allowing, folded together in a way that made me thankful to be in the room.

Here’s a bit of trauma: while in Montreal a young girl of about 7 or 8 passed by me on the subway platform with three women in their twenties. One of the women turned to the other two, in the course of whatever they were talking about, and said, “Well, she’s a full-time job,” gesturing at the young girl. The girl cried out, in a voice distorted by a speech impediment, “I am not a full-time job!” Declaring, as it were, that she would be less, require less, and that she wouldn’t again be embarrassed by her own human need. (And maybe more optimistically, that she wouldn’t serve as anyone’s excuse.)

This is the episode that directly precedes my notes on your rehearsal. I watched the first part of the rehearsal – when, I think, you were really just making things up and having fun and testing this whole possibility of “cheesiness” – in a sort of pleasurable delirium, absorbing your process and basically just enjoying myself, sensing the risk you were taking and appreciating it.

But then you ran through the sequence in which Molly is manipulated sexually by Louis, and suddenly the experience was very different. I thought of how that young girl’s desire to be cared for had been punished. The way Molly’s hands are at first frozen at her side, that affected me. It directly expressed the way abuse accesses desire. I’ve been thinking quite a bit since watching their duet about the really good things I’ve wanted, like affection or intimacy, from people who’ve traumatized me, in one way or another. Desire is a big dumb animal, a beautiful dog, wanting to be touched by everyone, but still half-wild, dragging us around, until we run into someone who lost theirs…

But is it possible to say that I could relate to Louis’s character in that sequence as well? (Who has ever experienced more empathy than an abuser from their victim? But I also know how an unconscious feeling of entrapment can turn to bitterness and lead to harm. I understand that shapeless anger – mostly self-directed – that wants to consume and destroy.)

What settled in for me finally, in the piece involving children’s music, was a reminder of our capacity for dissonance. How simultaneously tragic and heroic that is. I was glad that they made it across the room, maybe because it’s so goddam beautiful when people have to try so hard. There’s, like, a public-private thing there…. but with that, I think when some trauma gives you this permanent lurking sense of unreality, it’s always juxtaposed with the preposterousness of actual reality, then you’re always a bit out of sync and distracted. From that position, there’s this sense that you could fall off completely if you’re not careful, so you have to make this extreme effort to do regular things perfectly (like have fun!!), but that just makes it feel more clumsy and wrong.

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