I’ve been at Mt. Tremper Arts Center for 3 days. It feels like I have been here for a lifetime and I am full with the exchange of information, experience, dance, art, writing, practices, and conversation, wow.
Today I took a walk with Jan Mun and Emily Drury down to the Esopus river that runs through the valley between our mountain and the one that we look out on. We walked slowly and pointed out things we noticed along the way, inspired by a walking, writing, improvising practice I had learned from Simone Forti. We had all done a sensory exploration in the studio for an hour before we went walking, moving with our eyes closed to taste and smell more, switching our focus to touch and skin, listening to sounds through ears and bones, and then opening our eyes and playing with a few different ways of seeing.
On the walk downhill, we looked at tongue shaped leaves and spider webs adorned with raindrops. We lay down on cool damp rocks and imitated the movement of a tree that turned in two spinal twists up its tall trunk. We dug in the gravel, felt the closing in of branches above us, and discussed the shrubby habitat that gets made when clearing a space for power lines. At first, the walk was a bit hesitant and stilted. I had set a limitation on our conversation that guided us to share observations in the present more than calling up past experiences. But as we got going, the details around us stood out and we were struck by the orange bittersweet roots dug and yellow barberry roots that we dug and scraped. At one point we stood still watching a butterfly fly a circular path overhead, and I felt that the score had worked its magic, inviting us to dwell in wonder for extended moments.
At the river’s edge, Emily and I wrote a list of actions, elements and qualities from Anna Halprin’s techniques for making dances in nature—and then we performed them with and for one another.
Emily’s score (performed by Lailye and Emily):
Soften, bubble, preen
Listen, disappear, harden
Shape shift to make contrast imperceptible
Lailye’s score (performed by Jan and Emily):
Dig deep wings