Laura Ann and I just started working on a new performance project called Goodnight, Courtney Love.
The most fascinating, frustrating, and endearing part of this project is the space we are working in.
That space is the city’s indoor swimming pool.
So let me tell you what is not working so well about that space:
Before we started rehearsing in the pool, we were in a regular dance studio: wood floors, beautiful light, windows, privacy.
While rehearsing in the dance studio, we began to work on what we called “Dinosaur Dances”.
Dinosaur Dances were these rough studies of movement where we would fling ourselves through the space with the least amount of grace, nuance, beauty, and technical prowess as possible.
We would land hard against the wood floor with loud clunks, smacks, and thumps.
We were thrilled by our lack of finesse and panache.
We started to call this way of moving Dinosaur Dancing.
However, Dinosaur Dancing does not translate so well to concrete floors and concrete walls that are submerged underneath the water.
Nix the Dinosaur Dancing that we spent weeks practicing so that we wouldn’t get injured.
There is no privacy at a pubic swimming pool, even when it is closed to the public.
That delicate process of slowly creating something beloved that will change the way sentient beings relate to each other, which in time, will then change the ways of the world?
Instead there are a handful of 20-something lifeguards watching you very closely.
They are so wholly confused by what they are seeing that their whistles become permanently stuck to their youthful and sprightly mugs, as they desperately try to figure out which rule you just broke.
Bless their hearts.
And then there are the two and three year olds who definitely need their turn on the slide.
That section you were just working on at the slide?
That section that you really want to run just one more time so you don’t forget it?
Gotta let that one go.
And the moms that walk innocently into the kiddy pool to introduce their new babies to the water?
The moment the mom walks out of the locker room, cooing to her baby with a love so pure it makes your heart break, quickly transitions into a moment of such confusion and terror when she sees you doing your post post modern dance explorations, that you skedaddle back over to the slide as quickly as possible and ask if you can have a turn too.
3. The Space:
The space is huge and overwhelming and loud and industrial with stray hairs and band-aids all along the edges and also in the water.
That’s all I have to say about that.
4. Peeing in the water:
I was told by a good friend that the chlorine in a swimming pool is so strong that it is totally okay to pee in the swimming pool as an adult.
I can’t wrap my head around that one, but when we are diving and dancing in the kiddy pool for hours on end I repeat that mantra to myself over and over again so that I am not thinking about how much pee is making contact with my skin from all the kid swimmers (and adults swimmers too apparently).
5. Thwarted, Crushed, and Defeated Dreams:
These were all of the dreams and images we had when we began to make this dance:
Climbing up the slide.
Dragging furniture into the pool.
Eating pancakes in the pool.
Cooking pancakes in the pool.
Cartwheeling in the shallow end.
Doing headstands over the fountains while reciting James Joyce.
Having a musicians play electric guitars, drums, and keyboards in the pool.
Filling the pool with sand.
Hosting a 24 hour dance party in the pool for a hundred people.
A girl can dream, can’t she?
I will tell you what is working, and working really well, next time.
Your dance mission for the week is find a space that you would not consider a “dance” space.
Take a walk around that space.
Sit and contemplate that space for a minute or two — really see what is there and what is not there.
Begin to dance.
I would love love love to hear how that goes for you.
You can email me personally or comment by clicking this link:
With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending