Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wreck Beach Butoh: Undress Rehearsal

So, as Barbara had warned, the beach really does change everything. Different surface, different geographic relationships and distances, added natural variables. All of which combines for an experience that is as much about endurance and being able to make adjustments on the fly and maintaining acute spatial awareness as it is about performing the piece with presence and to the best of one's ability. Not that the latter still isn't expected of us, as we were reminded after our run-through, which included more than a few hiccups on my part, one semi-disastrous collective mistake at the end, and which according to Barbara lacked energy from start to finish. In her words, it was "too easy."

It didn't feel easy to me, starting with negotiating on one's bare feet the rocky forebeach closest to the cliffs, where we stored our gear and set up a quasi-green room. The Tower Beach part of Wreck has always been much rockier than the more visited southern part; however, I don't remember it being quite like what we encountered yesterday. It's like some gardener had come in with a truck full of landscaping stones and dumped them all over the beach. When Noah and Molly and I arrived, Jen and Salome were duly clearing as smooth and sandy a pathway as possible through them from our encampment to the water's edge.

Speaking of the water, it was pleasantly warm-ish. But also quite choppy. When we did the Mad Chefs bit, we were being buffeted about and swept off our feet like bowling pins by the waves crashing into us from behind. To say nothing of the energy required to swim against those waves in even getting to that section. Exiting the water was far less difficult, as one just had to let the tide sweep one ashore.

As for moving on the wet sand, I found it had plusses and minuses. Falling onto it rather than onto a parquet studio floor (however well sprung) was certainly more pleasant on the joints. However, there was also the tendency to sink into it during certain moves, which played occasional havoc with my balance. Traversing it butoh style, with one's weight forward and sliding rather than lifting one's feet, was also a bit challenging, depending on how fast or slow we were going. But doing the cat/cow gallop (a weird menagerie of a metaphor, I know) was certainly easier than on a hard floor. And while one wasn't able to get as much rebound from the sand in propelling into the ecstasy jumps, I actually enjoyed the experience of performing them. Embracing the actual sky does help.

Other things I hadn't anticipated: the cold from the wind when one first comes out of the water, and how it takes a great deal of will not to shiver uncontrollably while also trying to do the choreography; having to squint into the sun during the last of the statue poses; the labour of applying and taking off the white body paint; feeling so self-conscious in front of what amounted to an accidental audience.

Oh yeah, and how tired I felt afterwards. So much so that I decided to forgo the Dancing on the Edge show for which I had tickets last night. But I'm feeling refreshed this morning; it's another beautiful day and I'm pumped for the first performance.


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