DANCE MARATHON JOURNAL #12
LIGHT DOESN'T HAVE ARMS TO CARRY US
CHOREOGRAPHED & PERFORMED BY
3 SEPTEMBER, 8PM
SOTA STUDIO THEATRE
50min, no intermission
PREETHI ATHREYA is a Chennai-based contemporary dancer who trained in Bharatanatyam and went on to do a postgraduate degree in Dance Studies (Laban Centre, London, 2001). Working within the Indian contemporary dance scene as a performer, choreographer and facilitator, Athreya’s approach is marked by a constant dialogue with form and the possibilities of reframing content. Athreya is one of the co-founders of Basement 21, a practice-based performance collective in Chennai. Her work has been seen in Europe at the Szene Salzburg Festival in 2008 and 2009, as well as the [8:tension] Young Choreographers’ Series of the 2009 ImPulsTanz Festival in Vienna. Athreya’s review of Belgian choreographer Michel Laub’s work, “Total Masala Slammer”, was published in the Dance Research Journal, New York, in 2004.
PREETHI ATHREYA RESPONDS TO YUKIO SUZUKI’S ARCHIVE BOX
What were your initial thoughts on first receiving your corresponding Archive Box?
The Box was small and its contents were neat, methodical and official-looking. It resembled a person’s last will and testament, with a pen included and signature required. There was a contract and a document with detailed instructions to follow. It appeared to be designed for recreating the ‘original’ dance with unquestioning submission.
From what you saw of the Archive Box, could you imagine what the ‘original’ dance was like? Have you seen the dance?
The Archive Box contained a contract, an instruction manual for movement, a pen and a pair of wireless earphones. From the way it was organised, I imagined the archivist’s dance to be something purely from his imagination and subjective response to the concept of the volatile body – evident from the title of the piece, “Evernescere”. The references and impulses seem to come from within him, rather than from external triggers. I have not seen the dance.
How have you prepared for the response presentation?
Amongst the contents of the Box, the instructions to move are what offer the greatest provocation. To obey them or not seems irrelevant and reactionary. However, to translate the written instructions into the body offers a layer of inhabitation that can only be one’s own. It is dependent on one’s relationship with one’s own body. My process is to interrogate the body using the words as a trigger.
How do you archive your work as a dancer and choreographer?
I make elaborate notes on the subject of the work. I collect samples, images, definitions, articles and reflections on the topic I am researching. When I start to find movement in the studio, I try to document it in every stage of its evolution – from collating a combination of matchstick figures, arrows and written instructions, to occasionally videographing a particular outcome. Every piece has its own notes, process videos and final outcome recorded.
How has working on this Archive Box project affected your notions of archival?
What I missed in my Archive Box is a glimpse into the ‘personal’ space of the archivist. While I appreciate the rigorous detail of the archiving, as well as the near-scientific, objective distancing of the personal and the artistic space, I feel that, if an archive is meant to be ‘passed on’, then it necessitates a relationship between the user and the archivist that runs parallel to the actual work itself.