Tere O’Connor is in Seattle! Velocity is partnering with On the Boards in a celebration of master American choreographer Tere O’Connor, culminating in performances of his seminal works BLEED, poem, Secret Mary, and Sister. As part of this educational/community partnership, Velocity and OtB host Irreconcilability, nine days of activities focused on O’Connor’s influential views on dance and contemporary culture. As we anticipate the performances which begin tomorrow, we share the Tere O’Connor’s artist’s notes for his work BLEED, originally posted on his process blog of the same name. See this incredible work Thursday and Friday at On The Boards, and then the three works that preceded it at On the Boards and Velocity.

Photograph: Paula Court

BLEED is the culminating work of a two-year project during which I constructed three other pieces, Secret Mary, poem and Sister, all from very different source material and each with an entirely different cast. I then collapsed these into this fourth work simultaneously remembering and forgetting the previous dances. All eleven of the magical performers from the other works are here yet the movement material is gone. Ghosts of the other dances resonate through the new work and shape its form but they are subterranean and exert their pressure on this new construction from the caves of memory.

The ephemeral — overly romanticized in dance history in my opinion — is an actual tool for me and is integral to my process. In this expanded version of a concept that has always been central for me, erasure is a form of construction. Each image or section of a dance is absent in the next, but its essence remains to color the forthcoming events. I craft these wafts of memory into my choreography privileging them over the recapitulation of dance movements. Because inference, essence, quality, reference and affect seem to be some of the purveyors of meaning in dance, I long ago ceded any desire for the expression of specific ideas to the ambiguous contours and endless associative pathways of the choreographic mind.

This work is sparked by my immersion in the poetics of dance and the information I have gleaned from 30 years of wrestling with its indeterminate qualities. My experience with crafting dances has been a journey away from the exigencies of definition or resolution that might be useful in the construction of “cogency”. I have moved decidedly towards abstraction and its potential to mirror consciousness. Contradictory impulses coexist in these temporal constellations. A search for singularity of meaning gives way to a complex weave of disparate elements. I work with a willfully convoluted palette where recognizable imagery and the anomalous enjoy equal value. I am not looking to shape hidden stories into dance but rather to understand how the sequencing of events accrues meaning in choreography. The viewer joins me in the definitions of the parts but I must provide a structural frame that allows for this and perhaps promotes the dislodging of memories in the viewer in order that they might comingle with the images of the dance. People’s projections are braided with my construction to finalize the work.

I am conflicted about author’s notes, so forgive me this indulgence. I am just attempting to help the viewer come on board with what might feel like an enigmatic project. The intense complexity of living on earth right now finds a good friend in dance. Spending some time with an information system that does not hope to deliver messages but rather acts as a container for multiple individual responses, might prove to be an antidote to the polarizing dogma that holds our world in its grip.


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