Photo by Tasha Doremus

Enduring Presence: A Response to Gregory Holt’s 2,000 MOVEMENTS

September 16-17, 2015
thefidget space

Photo credit: Tasha Doremus

To witness Gregory Holt’s 2,000 Movements, a series of 2,000 unrepeated, layered movements, is to witness an enduring presence.

Moments of context—a score slipped into the program, Greg’s brief yet informative introduction—helped me grasp on and tune in, gave me frame and focus. (I love context. Thank you!) “Listen to the city,” Greg said, and then he began.

Late sunset streamed through the windows of thefidget space, churning into twilight. Asimina Chremos’ lighting design seemed to offer the passage of time as a suggestion. Because Greg had invited us to “listen to the city,” I knew not to expect recorded music.

As time [time did not “pass.” As I sat there, witnessing,] I found that I no longer expected anything. Not that I didn’t expect anything. I think maybe what fell away was expectation itself.

Potentiality replaced expectation.

My ears opened up to the edges of the space and beyond into North Philly. Greg’s simple directive transformed even the act of listening; it allowed the audience to take in the performance within a much larger sphere. We heard children playing on the street below, a parent calling out, back and forth, a car coasting by blasting its radio. Greg, dancing.

Sound didn’t mark time. Lighting didn’t mark time. Greg’s movements somehow didn’t mark time.

Donna Faye Burchfield, my dance teacher during my undergraduate studies, was also at the show; afterwards we were driving around remembering our shared history together, moments I remember so vividly (Pina Bausch at BAM in 2001, red yarn, the exact opening movements of dance from 2002). Then we talked about Greg’s performance. She was saying that we were somehow, all of us, suspended outside of time. Suspended outside of needing to know what time it was.

Because it was 1+1+1+1 it opened me up to the present moment. Every moment being present. Every movement being presence. An enduring presence.

Presence replaced expectation.

As a witness, I was attuned to every moment (every movement), and to the moments inside each movement. To the movements inside each moment. Moments inside moments inside movements inside movements.

Back to Greg’s question “What is a movement?” How do you create a movement? A social movement? A choreographed movement? One gesture at a time, perhaps. Tracking yourself, being conscious of yourself as you move through. Spatial awareness as it shifts. The soundscape as it shifts. What’s around you, as you shift. Always being present in the transition to what comes next.

During a co-working rehearsal in the studio, I noticed Greg had brought a few books of poetry. The lines he shared with me were jutting, words butted up against others, breaking syntax and creating new meaning, creating new structures. As a writer and dancer, I can think about Greg’s choreography in terms of syntax. The 1+1+1+1 unrepeated, a series of words (movements), the arrangement and performance of which ruptures and shifts structural meaning, outside of any set form. Greg’s choreographic monument is language unfettered and exacted.

As Greg moved through the space in wholly unexpected ways, within a wide range of texture, tone, variation and feeling, and always with presence, I understood that a movement was being built. I understood how I could build a movement. Greg brought me to a new set of questions. How can we avoid repeating unhealthy and destructive patterns? How can we stay alive and responsive to the present moment? How can we cultivate practices that grow, yield, activate, adapt, resist?

A new syntax.
One gesture at a time, perhaps.
What’s around me, as I shift.
Always being present in the transition to what comes next.

Can I say that it was beautiful?



Learn more about this project on the FringeArts page.