By Sebastian Grubb
For Pilot 65 l am creating a new dance-based performance piece called “Morning Poems”. I’ve been working in the studio mostly alone, trying to bring some of my poems to life in a new way. I’m fortunate to have two excellent collaborator musicians in the form of Joan Jeanrenaud and Sky Chari. I am working with them to translate poems I wrote some years ago into new music that captures the crucial essence in the words or the images. I am doing the same with my body and with dance. It’s very exciting for me to be bringing this past work back to life in a way that I never anticipated.
It has certainly been challenging to show up at the studio alone and wonder why I should even move at all. What is the value of dance? What is the value of art? What is important for me to say? And how will it contribute to the lives of others? These are, perhaps, eternal questions, but they show up in a powerful way during this mostly solo process. What I have found as my guiding light has been digging into the poem, generally not into the words themselves but rather into the feeling that I have when I read them, or to particularly powerful or gripping images. These words, feelings and images literally move me, so that it is not just me making an arbitrary choice about which leg or arm to move when I make my dance. Rather there is something compelling me to decide how to express an event or a moment or a memory. Without connecting to this rich feeling of being pulled and pushed by something, there would not be much to do or reason to speak.
Ever since my initial proposal for this project, which included 10 one minute dances to 10 one minute poems, I have realized that I have a lot more to do than I can between now and the pilot performances. This is at first disappointing, because it challenges my initial vision, but it is at the same time heartening and emboldening, because it means I have a kind of path laid out before me which I could choose to take. There are many more poems to breathe from, many more songs and dances to be found in them.
Here is one of my poems that I will be using in this performance:
Rain, pour on me like I’m worth dissolving,
like all this clay and stone were meant
to be reshaped again;
pour on me and let yesterdays melt
into sidewalks, plunge down piping,
let them cling to branches until old hours and events
are absorbed into veins, nourishing leaves
absorb me like i’m worth the flower
called by Spring, caught up in cycles and miles
of underground, buried memory, the storehouse
of dirt and departures, silent recreation
reaching, aspiring, breathing in
the damp and cool, taking this day
into its mouth;
take me like i’m worth burying,
in cycles and miles of underground.