All posts tagged action is primary

dimly, dimly at first: a response to “action is primary”

Dimly, dimly at first: A Letter to Kristel Faye Baldoz

by Jai Arun Ravine

Dear Kristel,
On stage you bring Trinh T. Minh-ha’s book When the Moon Waxes Red as a pivot point during your improvisation. I ask Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee to open to a page that could respond to you, and this is what she says:

Dimly, dimly at first
then increase just a little more
volume then a little more
take it take it no further, shut it
off. To the limit before too late before too soon
to be taken away. (130)

What are you humming? Nice mood light. I wonder how you will start. Each time you begin dimly, dimly at first. I went to a restaurant last night called Mood. This is a moody new moon, am I right? The way you chose to light the space may suggest one or more of the following:

  • a) You do not want to be seen all the way.
  • b) You only want to be seen by certain people.
  • c) It is difficult to be in the space; dimly makes it bearable.

Everything echoes intensely, the body echoing. I see the echoes in the dark. I sense the horror and pressure of being seen, of being seen as what? I’m writing to support you here on the edge. Light change, then increase just a little more. More light now, less moving. More seeing, less seeing. More writing. You’re wearing all gray and you talk about the color gray as possibility, what reminds me of third space or nonbinary space. You drape your gray shirt across a white chair and put your arm around it. Is this a companion or a jacket? You say that this assemblage approaches the feeling of another body on stage with you. You seem alone, isolated, singular, hair over your face as a fabric. Yet in shadow there are four of you like backup dancers against the wall. You attempt to frame yourself within the moving frame of the folded white chair. But what can really interrupt the imperialist gaze, the hegemonic frame, the audience’s visualization?

Continue Reading

at the edge: a response to “action is primary”

at the edge of the space, on the border between observer and participant

A response to observing action is primary workshops and rehearsals (February 2016)

by Jai Arun Ravine

1. do what you need

I arrive at The Whole Shebang. The door is locked. No one told me the code. I push what I hope is a doorbell several times, with no response. I stand outside for 15 minutes in the cold. One of the participants arrives and lets me in.

Meg asks everyone to stand together in the center. Notice how cramped it feels. Then she asks us to move back and stand at the edges of the space. Notice how much more room you have.

I sit at the edge of the space with my water bottle, notebook and pen. I don’t expect to participate, but participation is suggested. A borrow a pair of dance pants from a friend.

2. action is primary

I’m the only person of color in a room full of white people. I sit at the edge of the space, trying to be as small as possible. This is not the first time I’ve noticed this kind of composition in my environment, but writing it down here makes it feel like an isolated event. When people come near me, I pull in my feet. My action is to observe from the outside. Even “inside,” my actions still feel like observations from the outside.

Continue Reading