On Monday I was told by Stephan Moore, one of the head sound engineers for Merce Cunningham, that there was a get together at the West Village studios. I brought my camera but the photos won't load, so I drew my favorite memory of the day:
Some of the people that came to the memorial were dancer "alumni" from the past 20 to 30 years. The organization decided to go ahead and hold a practice session and invited everyone to go to the main rehearsal space for the first stretching practice. I joined in, not knowing what to do but happy to be involved. My favorite moment was when everyone, young and old, stretched to the left, perfectly synchronized from years of practice and experience from the best teacher of modern dance. Their necks were elongated, their feet perfectly placed, and their fingers hanging lightly in the air. There was so much grace in the room. I tried to soak as much of it as I could. Hoping that the grace would stay in my movements through the weekend.
In the smaller studio space there were T.V.s set up with Merce's past performances and video footage of my residency. When I saw this I began to cry.
Emotions like these make me think more about my constant practices of not recording for the sake of questioning the idea of ownership. I didn't want to cry when I saw the old footage. The moment was gone and it remains in my memories and in my heart, which is what matters more than owning a copy of it. But I still had this human reaction to try to find and own the video. I said it was for archival reasons, but inside I knew it was for the sake of the ego having "proof" of my participation with the company.
When I asked the main administrator if I could get a copy, she said that I couldn't. "it's only available on-line, all of the original footage from the dress rehearsal is somewhere at NYU waiting to be edited, and probably won't be for a long time."
And there it was, the taste of my own medicine. Bitter yet satisfying. I can't find it online. And I'm glad.
I have always felt that Merce and I shared similar views when it came to owning and distributing works. And here I was, being confronted with the same situation that I have put others in for the past 2 almost 3 years.
This quote from Merce, pulled from his Obituary in the New York Times explains my philosophy completely:
I feel the same way about improvisation. It's appreciating the moment rather than focusing on the future.
As Agnes Martin says, " The future is a blank page." Who am I to try to fill it with false ideas that may never come to pass?
Merce, John Cage, Agnes Martin and so many other artists of the late 20th century preached the idea of the moment and presence. This is why I am so inspired by their works.
Here are some photos from their flikr account, here is my proof. I hope my ego is satisfied, although, by it's nature, it never is:
When I find the video I'll post it. Or maybe not. Just to make my ego angry.