Theoretical Dance: This Body is in Creation (1979)

“Theoretical Dance: This Body is in Creation,” Only Paper Today, 6:8 (October 1979), p. 18.

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Theoretical Dance: This Body is in Creation

Celibate/ Societal Convulsion
A Dance Performance by the A-Motile Dance Company

Part 1:

The celibate is on the periphery of society. He is a social danger—a secret hysteric, a convulsive. Half respectable and acceptable, he is aside of society, marginal, bordering the demi-monde—with criminals, delinquents, sexual deviants, pimps and madmen. He is undesirable; hence, a celibate. He is the true desirer: hence, the celibate. Without family or conjugality, he is all the more social. On the edge, he is all the more political. Celibate, he is all the more perversely sexual. He is a social traitor, a social danger, a social terrorist—contagious, the carrier of a new plague. He produces intensities. He proliferates by himself. On the periphery, he precipitates a series and makes convulsive connections. He is without cause and reason. Coming from the outside, he remains there. His social contagion spreads to the centre. This silent solicitor, he convulses. He is not a cause nor an effect. He convulses silently, productively, like a machine. He is not our cause. We convulse.


Part 2:

Only Paper Today: What brought you to dance?
A-Motile: I learned to dance through looking at still photographs. My body was created through looking at photographs. It was the site of this choreography, rather than the site being a neutral space.
OPT: How does this create a body?
A-M: The gaze of the photograph, as a technique, comes from the outside and adheres to my body. It establishes a network there on the surface of the body, as one establishes a colony. It is essentially a recording technique, and the body, at that moment, in that configuration, is created by recording. The gaze as technique cuts up my body; to its insistence, I gave the resistance of the recording surface of my body.
OPT: Why did you form an a-motile dance group? Doesn't that mean that there is no movement, hence, no dance?
A-M: A-Motile is theoretical dance, and, as such, a refusal of these necessarily essentialist conceptions and distinctions. One of my teachers, Merce Cunningham, once said that even when we are standing still, we are moving. I began to think about how the truth of our bodies is created, and I say truth in quotation marks. I began to think who or what creates the identity of the body, distributes its functions, organizes its behaviour. And for distributes, I might have said represses, and for organize: control. There are the givens of our bodies, their a priori limits, supposedly.
OPT: But, they are our physiological givens.
A-M: Not necessarily. Perhaps they are images that are controlled; but controlled by whom and what? Actually, I think our bodies are created by history and economy, invested and inscribed with the relations of power and domination. These confrontations occur on the surface of our bodies. But there are breaks there too...
OPT: You mean, there is an issue?
A-M: Yes, in the sense of an issue being a flow, not a contention. In reaction to the political technology of our bodies, against the body's destruction and collapse, all that is left to us in our bodies is our own physical disgust and convulsions, our own control of our bodies in the willed loss of control and usurption by cataclysmic desire. As a celibate dancer, I open myself to this convulsive disgust. These symptoms are the locale and breaks of my desire.
OPT: Desire? Where does that act?
A-M: Well, let me first say that my performance as a dancer is a mechanism created between a simulation—I could say an ideology, and those photographs I talked about are this simulation—so between, as I was saying, the simulation and desire.
OPT: So it's a machine.
A-M: Desire isn't the machine. The machine is created as the performance/text/body between the simulation and desire. What desire is...well, it only becomes recognizable in the machine when the machine takes a form, or the body assumes a symptom. But the machine only works by breaking down, and that breaking down, that rupture, releases desire. In order for us to escape capture by that simulation, by the ideology, we have to keep breaking down our bodies, rupturing them; because, you see, we are always building this machine within the simulation. We can't escape that. So it's not a matter of freedom, but only of an issue. We keep on the edge, look in, and move out. What we're doing is mapping a network, machinating a body.
OPT: But being on the edge is ineffectual.
A-M: No. You don't understand. We're all on the periphery—there is no centre. We know we're peripheral so we become parasites of a sort, or scavengers. We build a machine on the larger social machine. It's great! They themselves give us the model for this. We build on its machine, repeat its structure, use its tools, its cast off or unprotected pieces and processes. We pervert its logic, or, rather, we develop, intensify and exacerbate its obsessions. So by inscribing this code and system on our ciphered bodies, we syphon the flow, but we syphon by rupturing.
OPT: But you still haven't defined desire.
A-M: I don't want to define it. It's a motion that I want to make flow. That's what my performance is about. I want to make an anonymous mechanism that is released into the social realm. It's the audience's desire I want to flow. I want them to convulse, to become the hysterics we all are. That's why I am a celibate, and that's why I don't move. I'm only a node in this network, and the performance is an impulse that creates the network. In its effect, it is an effect. Theoretical dance is the closest thing to desire that I know.
OPT: Do you have anything planned for the future?
A-M: Yes. I've completed a dance called ‘Peripheral/Drift’. Through the peripheral non-site of an anonymous audio tape the work inhabits other dance performances and forces a drift from both expression and task.
OPT: Thank you. I feel a bit restless. I think I'll take a walk and convulse.

Image: Permanent Press

Image: Permanent Press