Inner Mission

At a conference this weekend I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Larry Lavender, a smartly irreverent dance scholar. His expertise and teaching field focuses on choreographic mentorship and methods/practices for teaching choreography. He sent me this today and I wanted to share it with you. He (and I) invite you to participate in Inner Mission.

FROM LARRY:
Dear Friends,

As you know, I define choreography as “possibilizing the presence of people in places.” With that in mind, I invite you to participate in a choreographic work called Inner Mission. I hope each of you will choose to perform it during intermission of a dance concert that you attend.

If you agree to perform Inner Mission, you might consider performing it at a dance concert you would have attended anyway, rather than to attend a concert solely for the purpose of performing the work. This way the carbon footprint of the work will be zero, since no additional energy will be expended for the purpose of traveling to and from the performance.

Inner Mission researches body freedom — the freedom for each body to decide in each moment whether to move, and how to move. Body freedom is precisely what is denied to the body in many “set-work” contexts, and even in many improvisation practices where we find constraints on body freedom in various kinds of commands, parameters, structures, guidelines, and even strict rules that are imposed on the movements a mover moves.

There are no constraints on movement in Inner Mission, because in this work each mover performs a right now answer to the always-present body freedom research question: What next?

To address that question I ask that you invent, rehearse, and make perfect (in the ways that dancers usually do) one particular movement choice that will be your pre-set choreography for the work. But, when you actually perform the work, I hope you will decide at that instant whether to keep, change, or discard all or part of your pre-set What next? In other words, in this work the idea is to perform body freedom at the precise moment when, in a conventional choreographed work, body freedom would be denied.

To perform the work, make your way to any spot onstage that you choose during intermission. Your spot may be one step onto the stage, or in the middle, or anywhere else you choose. Feel free to pre-choreograph your spot, or to find it afresh during the performance. Either way, go to “your spot” and occupy it until you decide What next? Then perform what is next. Obviously, your pre-set What next? will be available to you for performance, but since you stand in a relationship of body freedom to your earlier choreographic decisions, whatever is performed during Inner Mission will be chosen-in-freedom. Once you have performed What next? leave the stage; your performance of Inner Mission is complete.

In addition to body freedom, Inner Mission is interested in existing in an unfastened relationship with the part of the self that desires to be watched performing, and perhaps to be praised for performing well. Inner Mission is not interested in taking any action to make sure it is seen by others, but neither is it hiding from them. Your performance may be seen by others, but they may not know that they are seeing a performance. If the stage curtain is closed when you perform Inner Mission, then there is a good chance your performance will not have any audience … but whether it does or does not have an audience is a trivial concern to Inner Mission. The work wishes to be performed, but it does not care if it is performed “for” any outside eye.

A bit of theory: In choosing to exist only during intermission of a dance concert, when the concert is taking a rest and no official part of its planned choreography is occupying the stage, Inner Mission chooses a peaceful co-existence with the dance concert. Inner Mission does not interfere with, interrupt, or get in the way of any moment of the dance concert while the concert is experiencing the full glory of its self-presentation to the public. Inner Mission exists only when the concert is not on stage. At the same time, though, Inner Mission does locate itself at the temporal center of the concert — it is literally a center-piece — occupying the ignored and invisible crease between the two temporal halves of the concert.

One additional request for those who choose to perform Inner Mission: If you can, please snap a photo (cell phone photos are fine) of your pre-planned What next? I would like to have these photos as a form of pre-documentation of the intended choreography of the work. Later, I would love a report from you on what happened during your performance. Did your pre-set What next? emerge in the moment of performance, or did something else turn out to be What Next? Please share whatever you can about what that moment was like. This will be valuable data for research on body freedom. I will distribute the collected data and images to all the members of the Inner Mission cast.

The time frame for Inner Mission is now until December 31st at midnight; it is a 2012 research project.

Thanks for considering participation in Inner Mission.

Love, LL

PS: Please share this email with anyone you know who may be interested in performing Inner Mission.

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