As bipeds in an ableist society, most of us take ambulation for granted. We rarely think of the thousands of movements we daily improvise to make our way in and through this world: from the reach of an arm to clasp a coffee cup or the swivel of a head to see who is calling our name, to the spontaneous leap over the puddle on the street or the full-throttle run to catch the bus. We think even less about what, in our bodies, allows us to execute such movements in the first place--until, that is, we hurt ourselves. Yesterday evening, for example, as part of Yves Candau's MFA performance Points de vue, I learned that the simple rotation inward of one's lower arm is enabled by two pivot points--one at the elbow, the other at the wrist--that are connected along a radial axis. As Candau shows us with his physical repetition of and verbal commentary on this twisting of the arms, what dance gives us is the means--technically and linguistically--for isolating, breaking down, and understanding this movement. In classical ballet, after all, the proper "carriage of the arms"--otherwise known as the port de bras--is meant to serve as a graceful and harmonious accent to the movement of a dancer's legs.
Candau's performance takes the form of a staged field study, one where the dance studio intersects with a magical research forest both real and imagined through a combination of movement, text (Candau's voice alternating with that of Barbara Adler's), and sound (both live, courtesy of Nur Intan Murtadza, and recorded, Candau having used his own computer software program to create an eight channel electroacoustic composition based on his outdoor recordings). Kyla Gardiner's lighting design completes the immersive effect, one in which we become increasingly mindful of our own kinaesthetic responses to what we are experiencing as much because of as in spite of our sedentariness. Indeed, as Candau moved and spoke about how and why he was moving, it was hard not to take notice of how one was floating one's own head, or tilting it to the side, or what shifts in weight and energy were occurring when one crossed or uncrossed one's leg. Dance scholars have become fond of talking about the concept of "kinaesthetic empathy"--the experience of moving along with or in response to dancers on stage. But those same scholars rarely discuss the ideal set of conditions to best enable such an experience. Candau seems to have found the right mix, one in which moving and talking and listening and feeling combine to produce a true embodied mindfulness (and vice-versa).
Points de vue has one more performance this evening at 6:30 pm in the Hastings Street dance studio (room 4750) on the fourth floor of SFU Woodward's.