Thoughts from Josh Weckesser,: lighting designer and dance philosopher…
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We’ll see if we get there (1000 words) with this post; it seems a long way a way, numbers that big. We won’t get to who “they” are. What we’re wondering is what a dance is worth. Ten dollars? Twenty? If you’re going downtown to see the Paris Ballet, those might be going for two hundred. That seems like a lot. Nay, I know not seems, that is a lot. Maybe if you have a group you could get a discount. Everyone needs a value these days, especially on art. Depends on the theatre; group size could be ten, or maybe twenty (all my life’s a circle). Get out your facebook list, find some people you know well enough to spend two hours sitting next to in silence. Some people might think silence is easy. Then again, some people think art is easy. Takes all kinds, some think love is all you need. This might be too literal, I know how people don’t like to talk about figures, especially if those figures are followed by words like “dollars” or “yen” or “annual percentage rate.”
How many words are a dance worth? This is sort of a misnomer. Most of the dance words are French, to begin with, and we all know how Americans feel about the French. Also dance is its own language, full of the same lisps and vocabulary misunderstandings as the one you speak from day to day. More, I’d wager. (How much would I wager? We’ve moved past that.) How many pictures? How many sighs, gasps, shrugs? How many eye-rolls? How my excited texts, or tweets, or facebook updates? How many elbows to the person next to you followed by whispers of “look at that” with not-fully-extended arms with fully-extended index fingers at the end of them? How do we quantify? How do we know quality without numbers? How do we know the Truth (capital T)?
These questions, I believe, are at the center of “_A Correct Likeness._”:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.486609421372605.113212.104336446266573&type=3 Also, at the molten, swirling core, is that belief. Belief, like dance, is a beautiful thing, and surely we need it. I believe these questions have value. I believe these questions are worth asking. I believe these questions have no answer. I believe it is the questioning that is the reason, the journey for the sand.
If I may stretch my metaphor a bit, when I reach that shore, worn out, cracked toe nails, let’s say beautiful day, with a sky that stretches forever. Surely (surely) I feel satisfied. I will put my feet into that salt water, and let the soft waves lick at my ankles, steal the dust from my soles. I may grow bold and leave my clothes on the shore and dive head-long, reckless into the surf and swim (again, metaphorically, those that know me well know that literally this is impossible) until I have reached my limit. I see in front of me the sun setting and the endlessness of water turning red, orange, with hints of blue and black and green. I hear only the waves and my heart, not knowing which is which. I know behind me my pants await, and my shoes to cover my feet after they dry (most likely muddy then) and the jar, which I have not filled. Not yet. I am content in this moment, treading water, watching the sunset, feeling like there is nothing left to do.
Eventually the light will dim, the water chill, and I will make my way back. I will shake as much of the sea from my hair as I may, and I will allow my dusty clothes to stick more closely to me. I will kneel down, as if praying, and I will unscrew the cap, and with one hand gently usher the soft sand into the hard jar. I will reflect with a small smile that they are the same thing, sand and jar, in the same way that ice and water are the same. But also different. I will put the sand into my bag, and I will turn back, knowing I am half way though my journey.
If you will continue to indulge, the moments when we preformed A Correct Likeness were like those moments in the ocean. Satisfying and complete, but not the whole journey. There was value in those still photos juxtaposed with the moving dances in front of us. There was value in the walls that defined the space moving throughout it. There was value in the live music mixed with recorded, with instantly captured images being immediacy shown, with beer and wine and people moving throughout. There was value of being so close to the event that you could touch it, that you felt like you were both watching it and a part of it, that you were somehow inside the painting. Because, of course, you were. There was value in the open window front, and the perplexed gawkers on the sidewalk, and the person next to you that didn’t get it and on the other side the person that liked it a bit too much, leaning forward, mouth slightly agape, almost drooling.
What is the value of these things, you may ask? Rightly so, your eyes eager and staring directly into mine, wanting to know the Truth. Of course you should expect it from me, here I am, guru like, talking as if I know; that I am just being coy, talking around something rather than talking directly at it. It does seem that way, most of the time; that understanding is just over those hills, can’t you hear the waves? I blink, suddenly shy, and look at my mud-stained shoes and I kick them about nervously, as if I am about to dance. “Well, I …” is all I’m able to stammer to the floor. I reach into my bag and pull forth for you a jar, full of sand.