by Alice Garik

Neil Greenberg and Miguel Gutierrez in conversation, Part 1

Not-About-AIDS-Dance and Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies

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Miguel Gutierrez: I want to start with a question for you. I'm curious for you to talk about what inspired you to bring back Not-About-AIDS-Dance ‘cause then I want to ask you some specific things about time and return and who you are now, and all that yummy stuff.

Neil Greenberg: That's interesting. I'll answer all of that, but my thought about [the fact] that we are both re-presenting work—mine, albeit, from much longer ago, but both our works have premiered already—[is] that it’s a different conversation to have about a piece that has premiered already. I’m curious especially about looking at a work that is finished, and the interpretative stance you might take on it now, and how that might be different from the different stances while you were making it, and at different periods of time. But, anyway, you asked me…

MG: When you say that, it makes me think of both what brought you to the piece the first time around, and what brought you back to it, and how is it for you to come back to it.

NG: I’m going to answer the second part first, because you asked that first, and it’s easier to talk about… maybe. I have been questioning my motives for coming back to it a great deal. This is the answer to both questions at once, in different ways: I was already planning on making a piece, I was HIV-positive—still am—and nobody knew it, it was 1993, I was in an HIV support group and itbecome more and more important to me for that not to be a secret. I was noticing how much a secret that was and how I was functioning with that as a secret and I was at a time in my life when I was trying to shed my secrets, because it seemed at that time that everything that was a secret was a secret because I was ashamed of it and I didn’t want to have to be ashamed of it. So that was the instigation for my next piece, and for the grant writing for the next piece. It had a horrible working title, which I never intended to keep.

MG: You got to tell me now.

NG: It was a horrible title, and I never intended to keep it, please know that.

MG: O.k., I believe you!

NG: It was called ‘Secrets of Identity.’

MG: Oh my God!


NG: But it got the money from NYSCA.

MG: Work! Better than like, windsong.

NG: I had been working with projected text in some of my pieces before that, and the projected text had always been sort of tongue-in-cheek about the making of the dance, about choreography and about the process of choreographing, always, kind of impersonal. And this was a piece that was going to get personal, and not just about me—I wanted to bring information about the performers to the stage. I think I had a lot of reasons for doing that beside that one piece of my HIV status, but that was a part of it. And then my brother, who lived around the corner from me, Jon Greenberg, became more ill with AIDS and then died. And it was one of those completely changing experiences for me.

MG: And you were already in the process of making the piece?

NG: No. I hadn’t started making the piece yet. I had made a solo. I had worked on some material and I had presented the solo at Dixon Place. I thought maybe it was going to end up in the piece. I did some high kicks in it that reminded me of “A Chorus Line” and since the whole premise reminded me of “A Chorus Line”—you know, the dancers on stage telling their stories—there was something tongue-in-cheek there. So I had a life-changing life event. It’s been twelve, thirteen years since then, and I can say it was “the” life-changing event, one of the big ones, bringing mortality as something close to me, something real, for the first time. That is what went into the making of the piece, and as we made the piece, more friends died. It just happened that way. That was a year in my life I came of a certain age when nine people died—some of them really close to me, some of them people from the support group.

Were you there at the Alain Buffard film, when Anna Halprin was talking about facilitating that support group and somebody came in and said that he was going home, and everybody knew that he was going home to die? I was crying so much watching that because it made me realize that even though now, twelve years later, I barely knew this person who’s in the text for Not-About-AIDS-Dance, I understood with that comment in Alain’s film, the significance of his death to me. It’s incredibly significant. It brought mortality home for one thing, and also these were people who though I didn’t know them well, we’d been quite vulnerable with each other.

MG: You’ve talked a little bit about the function of the text. I haven’t seen this work but I have seen other work of yours so I know sort of how that works in the pieces, and you do all that writing yourself right?

NG: Yes.

MG: What then does the dancing mean for you? What does it mean to work on the dancing? Because something that has always been interesting to me about your work is that there’s a kind of insistence that happens physically. The language is so ornate and full of skill, but then there’s also this thing that I always experience like waves, like ‘and now we’re coming to this thing again.’ And it’s very earth-bound, there’s a lot about earth in the movement to me. Even though there is this ornate or technological (I hate that word) language, it always goes beyond that for me, of this ‘we’re going to press into this language, we’re going to press into this language…’ Spoken or written language is so much one kind of experience of meaning, so then what does the dance do, especially since I imagine that the text is on the back.

NG: Exactly, the text is on the back wall. It’s foregrounded… Depending on where you are, sometimes you can’t even see them both in the same gaze. But the dance… I work much harder on the dance than the text. It’s the main text of the work—to use text as a metaphor, since dance is not a text. But it is the main element of the work. I think it always is in my work.

In this particular case—and this goes a little bit into the procedure and the methodology that I got into, which is video-taping myself improvising, and then learning sections of the improvisation verbatim, which is where I think that technical idea you mentioned comes from. My personal history is in my body, including all those years of ballet and all those years in the Cunningham Company, and all those years trying to drop my weight after that, all of that. It’s technical in that way. Trying to reconstruct this movement verbatim, often while dancing in unison with someone, that’s where it looks so very technical.

So, I did these improvisations soon after my brother died. I had a teaching gig. Jon died in July—this is actually all on the text, or a lot of it is in the text that is projected on the wall. I was supposed to go to Taiwan on a NPN teaching gig, and I tried to get out of it, and they didn’t want me to get out of it, and I decided to continue and to do it. I’m sure I could have gotten our of it, but I was met with some resistance, and it turned out to be a really good thing for me, to get away in some place very different. I started doing these improvisations with my video camera and that turned out to be the movement for the piece.

MG: Had you done that before or was this the first time?

NG: I had done it before. This was a method that I already had constructed and that at this moment really served me. And this is what we have gone back to in rehearsals now… the original videotape of the improvisations. And the very first moment in Not-About-AIDS-Dance there’s a slide that comes up that says, “This is the first material I made after my brother died.” I hadn’t remembered that it was as verbatim as that, honestly. After the camera going on and the test to make sure that it’s going to catch things, the very first thing movement I did is that very first movement that Justine does running on stage. It’s a ‘phrase’ because we kept it verbatim and it comes up a few times in the piece, and it really is the first material.

I’m going into all of this about that piece to say that something lives in the body, and that the body has information. I don’t want to use the word expression, but it’s the closest word that I know that we have for it. It’s a world into itself, the moving body and the dancing body. There’s so much… these words: expression, meaning. Help me out here! What does a dancing body has? It has potency.

MG: Presence. It has ineffability, and it has non-language language. In a way I’m bummed I haven’t seen the piece, and in a way I’m so happy I haven’t seen it because I’m getting it from you talking about it. I’m thinking about the trajectory of your work that I’ve seen, and how I always experience music in the work through the structure of the work and also through the structure of the language and that insistence I talked about. The other thing that I always experience is, yes, there’s that technical image but there’s also the “queen”, always the image of the “queen” that emerges.

NG: You mean the gay male, of a certain age, of a certain culture?

MG: Exactly. Always, as manifested like… Think about this curlicue [gesture of rolling wrists, ornate and constantly moving arms and spiraling “epaulement”] thing that even though is very distal, is very centrally initiated.

NG: And here Miguel is moving.

MG: I’m trying to be like Neil…

NG: Successfully.

MG: When I say centrally initiated, I mean psychologically central or emotionally central. Those are codes. That’s a code that we can “read.” I don’t like necessarily to make it analogue to...

NG: These are metaphors.

MB: So there’s this visual code in the language and, then again, there’s this energetic code that emerges, which I think is what dance does also: it operates in space and it operates in the air, and it activates the room that people are implicated in, together. If you are kinesthetically intelligent as a creator that starts to sort of like perfume, it starts to waft out towards the audience, not only into their skin, but also into their energetic bodies or even intellectual bodies. It becomes chewy in this other kind of way. I think that the language you create is very, very chewy.

NG: You’re not saying jewy, right?

MG: No (laugh), not jewy!

We talked about the generation of it, I’m curious for you to talk about how is it going into it now, ‘cause there’s so much there, right, to watch. Not only is this information not devoid of content, it’s also a history, a time in your life, and your body, and you’re different, all of it.

NG: I don’t know words for it. It’s been a “trip.” It’s been very moving to go back into this material. Some of it is so personal because embedded in this materials is this change. I’m not saying I’m a different person now than I was before in this butterfly-cocoon type way, but I was going through something then. And it’s in the material, and it’s also how it’s not in the material. It’s so poignant to me how I’m dancing out there, going out there [at all]. It’s like ‘how can this guy dance after that?’, you know. And that’s in the material and it’s really neat to me. By the material, I’m talking about just the movement, not the choreographic structures that came out of it. That’s another layer of it. The decisions that I made as a choreographer largely with great rehearsal method, of going in and working on it and revising and making decisions. And further still, upon what those decisions were based, the criteria—totally intuitive and unconscious, as far as I know. And then afterwards, looking at it and getting some interpretation of ‘o.k., I get it. This stage keeps emptying.’ Like, duh! The stage keeps emptying and there’s a literal meaning of that, but there’s also the energetic meaning of that, of presence and diminishment and absence. The empty stage which occurs in that piece and which I’ve always been attracted to as a thing you’re not supposed to do, therefore there’s something there. I’ve probably always been attracted to the empty stage for this very reason, that it has an energetic reality that’s important for us to acknowledge—absence.

MG: I totally agree.

NG: It’s been great. Like I said, I’ve been questioning my motives. Is this totally about Neil mourning his brother Jon? The narcissism of it, the ‘my own personal stuff.’ Why am I putting this out on stage? And I hadn’t even thought of this, but that does make me think of your work.

MG: That it is totally narcissistic.

NG: No, because you question… Some of the stuff that I got from “Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies” is questioning that narcissistic impulse. What is it to be on stage? Let’s not put this under the rug, let’s put this on top of the rug for a change—which is what I was trying to do with Not-About-AIDS-Dance, to go back to me, me, me, me, me… I was trying to take some stuff that we kept shuffling under the rug and put it on top of the rug. And not because it’s morally right to put it on top of the rug.

This is where I can go into another segue about the dancing. And I have to go back to dancing with Merce here, and being in a studio watching, not dancing the work, but actually experiencing it as a viewer. I’m thinking of pieces that I wasn’t in, like when I was early on in the company and able to watch more, and what a rich experience that was. At the Cunningham studio, with very few people around, and the dancers just doing this work without the costumes, without the music, which of course is a brilliant experiment and a brilliant reality in the Cunningham canon, yet I, in so many ways, at that time at least, preferred the dances without that stuff. I loved the dances. Just what a rich experience that was, that I was having as a human being, just watching the dances alone, unencumbered. And that’s part of what attracts me to dance, these things that you were talking about: the energetic realities of it, acknowledging the world in that physical, temporal, spatial, energetic way.

MG: And labor, like the experience of the labor is always so much more interesting. I went to a Cunningham showing in the studio, and I’ve also been at showings at Trisha Brown’s, and it’s interesting to see this work, which now has been projected out, into the proscenium, and I always think ‘what a shame’. This work for me is so much more compelling when I’m close to it. Yes, of course there’s visual picture and visual design, all that stuff, but I’m so much more interested in the labor and in the nuances of the presence of this body when it’s up close.

NG: Merce provided opportunities for people to see the work that way in those years. We did Events, we did performances in the studio, and there were even some performances—and certainly on tour—with the audience in the round and close, sometimes. All of that helps experience the physical, palpable [body moving]… I’m doing a gesture now. I’m doing something physical. Words don’t express what the physical body dancing in time and space expresses.

MG: But I also think that words are important. And I think that it’s not an accident that out of the 80s, and with the emergence of the AIDS crisis, language became really important in these literally, politically… As my experience at the time, as I was entering college, and then dropping out of college and being a young, very self-obsessed activist in San Francisco. I remember in the early 90s there was such policing of language. No, we’re not homosexual or gay, we’re queer. And that doesn’t mean something bad, it means something good. I’m not a woman, i’m a womyn… You know, and of course thesethings continue, I don’t mean to locate orreduce them to one time, but at least my experience of that time was this sort of heightened policing of identification. How are youidentified and how you acknowledge that identification is so specific and important and powerful. There’s so much power in that. And if you don’t get identified in the way you choose to be identified…

NG: It’s disempowering…

MG: Right, you’ve been disempowered and there’s a loss of power and you gotta get your power back by finding the words that describe you. And that endless toggling between what do I feel and how do I describe myself. I am a Colombian American Queer Activist Fag Living… I just remember this whole list of things that trailed like a wedding dress or something behind me. I think it’s a different time now, for me at least, I’m just a different person, but… The reason I’m bringing up all this is because I want to go back to this thing you said about narcissism and me, me, me, me… This sort of self-consciousness and confusion you have about your motives now. I think about that all the time; this question of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.

NG: In performance…

MG: …in performance. And I guess I don’t worry so much about what is inappropriate in performance, but in terms of personal biography and how does that work. Because I also think that we’re in this time where everyone’s got a story to tell about their fucking life, and in a way personal biographies now seem very redundant or silly. A lot of what’s happening in art culture is the fake and the self, and the faking of the self. Or the multiplying of the self so that you obliterate the self, or the…

NG: The culture has created the self and we don’t even have… the self that we say we have.

MG: Yeah, it doesn’t exist, so that idea that I’m going to locate myself, I’m Colombian… that no longer exists. That the boundaries seem totally porous and transcendable and we understand that communities are now wired, rather than geographical, that we’re on this electronic age vs. analogue age, all these sorts of things. So, in a way, an articulation of the self becomes sort of problematic, in this particular moment, because it’s like well, you’re going to start to tell what everyone is going to start to tell, you know. You can spend the rest of your life reading freaking weblogs of every Tom, Dick and Harry who thinks that he’s interesting to write about himself. I can speak personally for my own work, and relate it to what you’re saying and in a way it’s like well, all I have is really myself, in a certain kind of way. All I have to work from. And while I like and admire and appreciate the legacy of abstraction, and modernism, certainly in New York—it’s a lot of why I chose to move back here, was because I was compelled by the intricacies and the many layers of “text” that exist in formally abstract work—I also feel at times, you know, calling a spade, a spade. Laying it out, and saying this is what I’m about and this is who I am. Again, it’s dangerous in these times, because it can really lead into an Oprahfication of art, this kind of my pain is like this, and you’re going to hear me and my pain, and we’re all going to cry and we feel great by the end of it; between 4 and 5 o’clock it’s when I get to just have catharsis.

NG: Because that’s when Oprah is on.

MG: That’s when Oprah is on. And for me it’s totally not what we’re talking about actually. I can see the relationship but I don’t perceive it as the same.

NG: But it could be. It certainly could be to a viewer, and from another artist, and…

MG: Absolutely. I can imagine, but I feel like that as a formula is so specific and serves such specific commercial concerns. I mean, I don’t want to talk about Oprah. She does the work that she does, but I’m thinking of this idea in art and in culture. Let me relate it to this. I remember going to see the Whitney Biennial two years ago, or sometimes I go to see art shows, and it can be nice to see art shows instead of going to fucking dance ‘cause it’s different and not the center of what I do, and I have to say a lot of what I experience when I see art and this is totally subjective and totally witchy of me to say these things, but I sit there and I think ‘this is true to this person’ or ‘this is not true for this person.’ A couple of years ago at the Whitney, I remember thinking this all looks like really good fucking MFA art. Everyone’s got their fucking MFA and they learned how to make their packageable art and they’re going to start selling it. And I wish somebody would tell me something honest, or something difficult, or truly ugly about themselves.

NG: When you were saying ‘this is true for this person’ meaning that artist at the Biennial, that isn’t honest enough somehow? Or…

MG: My criticism is I sometimes rail against this hegemony of aesthetics, this thing of like, ‘we’re going to take over the world through aesthetics’ and I feel so frustrated. Maybe it is a very classical desire that I have for this personal-voice issue. And I can see that in a lot of [different] kinds of works. It’s not to say that I need someone there being like ‘I am so and so, and I’m depressed.’ No, no, no. I don’t need that. It’s something about relating the self—this very indefinable, perhaps mystical, problematic term—to the manifestation of the self. And I’m very interested in that relationship. That’s what really draws me into the art that I love. And I’m not clear about that link and it doesn’t mean that I have to know the person making it knows what the link is, ‘cause sometimes it’s even more interesting when the person doesn’t even realize what the fuck they’re doing. It’s like you said, the space keeps emptying. You did not know necessarily. It’s that great thing that happens with art where art speaks to our unspoken realities, you know, or it articulates our present when our present is unknown to even us.

NG: It’s almost a Freudian interpretation of art. It’s like dreams. Both art and dreams are human products and both come from our unconscious and reveal—what’s the word from Freudian-speak for what’s been revealed? Repressed material. I think even the acknowledgement of absence is repressed material; the acknowledgement of mortality is repressed material.

MG: And the acknowledgement of illness! To articulate illness inside of the context of dance, which is about this powerful body.

NG: Powerful body. Wow, and you are the Powerful People. But culturally, to me, when I came to New York, what dance was about was young, joyful… It was the expression of joy. All that Edwin Denby writing, it’s dance as especially the expression of joy. He always calls the dancers boys and girls… the healthy body, the youthful body that can transcend gravity, that can jump and be on pointe.

MG: Superhuman.

NG: And that’s when acknowledging gravity becomes a very deep thing and it’s interesting, so many of us have gone that way. For me it was definitely both a reaction to the culture, that my dance culture was always about pulling up and getting away from gravity, and never making sound, you know, “you don’t want to sound like an elephant.” And also the liberation of what it felt like to have submission to gravity to work with, even though it was forbidden, repressed material… it made me more powerful. I’m using that word because it’s in the air with us. It always makes us more powerful to work with what is, instead of what isn’t.

MG: I remember taking, God knows how the fuck this happens, but I got a scholarship to do the winter session at the Graham school—this was about twelve years ago. I went to that audition maybe having done two seconds of Graham in my life that my friend Abby had taught me. And I got this scholarship and I said, o.k., I’m going to do this because it’s a way to stay in shape over the break. And I remember taking this terrifying classes from these very scary teachers and this poor schlub of a girl was in the class, and the teacher called her out, ‘you don’t look like you’re having any fun, you know. Martha used to tell us that when we are doing the triplets is like we’re the kings and the queens of the stage.’ I felt so bad for this girl being called out like that. I think at that moment, I just realized, I’m not interesting in being, certainly not that kind of queen. I want to be a queen, but not royalty, not like the aristocracy, thank you very much. That idea of ‘I’m going to somehow create this self that is somehow better than other selves, and I’m going to be venerated for that.’ God, I’m not interested in that. I remember thinking ‘I’m not interested in that version of myself.’I’m interested in dancing because it doesn’t disconnect me from the world; it actually connects me to the world. I don’t want to be disconnected from it. I don’t want to be above things. I don’t want to be removed and better. I want to be more part of. And I liked how dancing made me feel a part of the world.

NG: You’ve been dancing since you were a little kid; I’ve been dancing since I was a little kid. We’re kind of unusual for male children (Education of the girl child, Education of the boy child…)

MG: It’s very exciting. Meredith Monk was a very important influence in my early years, but go on.

NG: Me too. Anyway, I’ve been in therapy for years, and I still don’t completely know where this stuff comes from, but I think I wasn’t really existing much when I was a kid. Some of it is certainly being gay, growing up gay, in a world that doesn’t acknowledge that that can possibly exist. And a function of dance for me, I think, was feeling my body, which became “isness”, which became existence. No matter how held I was, eventually I would have a somatic feeling, like the skin across my chest.

MG: Taking up space.

NG: It’s amazing how difficult it is to feel that looking at the picture in the mirror, and yet even within that situation, sometimes I can’t help feeling it. I became addicted to it—to feeling. The other thing I became addicted to, as a practitioner of dance at an early age was the honesty, that I couldn’t fake it. Using my dance vocabulary at that time, it was either you can pirouette or not; you can’t fake it. That was such a revelation for me, I guess because I felt like such a fake in the world. So, if I actually did something in dance, it was very real.

MG: It concretized things somehow.

NG: Yeah. So, the function of dance I think is part of what we’re getting at here, all these different functions of dance and increasing that, so that it’s not only about being the kings and the queens.

MG: I think enjoyment is a big part of it. Part of what drove me to make the show that we’re doing was this question of where do I find joy in what I do. Because I’ve made a lot of pieces that were focused on pain, or pain has been a big driver for my work, you know, sort of this coil, internal turmoil of pain, or the pain of ‘I want to say something I can’t say’ kind of pain. Again I think that’s very ancient for me, the pain of wanting to articulate things that you’re not supposed to articulate.

MG: Such as?

MG: Being queer or wanting to dance, or wanting not to go to college, wanting to tell that boy ‘I’m in love with you’, all those kinds of things that define an experience of conflict, of what I want to do and what I can’t do. And dance for me is kind of like that secret place, that special place, where I can come to power—such a horrible word—but come to presence with yourself. Like you say, it’s a way of defining yourself, your “isness”.

NG: And if not defining it, experience it.

MG: It’s like Deborah [Hay] talks about ‘what if all your Brazilians of cells… Zillions!


NG: A Brazillion cells!

MG: Favela cells!

…could be in dialogue with all that there is. I got so much from that question. Because it almost obliterates me and also completely acknowledges me at the same time, in the way all her questions do. But this idea that somehow I’m in some way engaged or participating in this choreography of the world or New York City. So this question about pleasure arose for me around my work, of why do I always deny myself pleasure in the work, or why do I deny the audience pleasure. And why am I so committed to this pain, and when is it useful. What is it doing? It seems like it was doing something, because I always got really interesting responses from people, and from different kinds of people.

NG: In your previous work?

MG: Yeah, from that. I feel like there is this kind of idea about human experience that somehow transcends confines of dance legibility, of that you have to understand dance to get it, and I’ve always been pleased that people from outside of dance can have an experience. But nevertheless, when I started working on these other pieces, I was just sort of thinking what gives me joy. All these different kinds of questions came up, obviously. Certainly making the trio with the women, I had this idea that I wasn’t going to make a dance at all. ‘I’m not going to make a dance. I’m not going to make a dance. There’s going to be no movement.’ And then the only thing we did was work on movement, and I was like ‘oh, it’s pretty!’ It’s just nice to see people move. It just is. There’s something about it that I enjoy.

NG: And it need not be verboten.

MG: Exactly.

NG: Sometimes I look at my work and now I’m thinking that that is a part of your work too—finding a frame in which dance can exist and be honest and be real. Because the frames I grew up with—grew up with! But those frames… I guess that’s why I love Cunningham. When I first hit that, that was the first time that the frame felt honest. Before that dance was all about acting, it was dance-acting. Everything I was asked to do was acting. I was actually either acting a role, or acting a feeling, like joy. And usually those roles were heterosexual. I think that’s one of the reasons that I rebelled against it. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons that Cunningham rebelled against it. That frame just couldn’t work, for us. And that frame of his, where you are you, out there moving, there’s not acting, there’s not even expression in the sense of denoting or connoting anything in particular. It is what it is. And within that frame, as far as he was concern, everything, all these big movements—arabesques, ballet—could exist, why not? It could all exist for him, stuff that really reads. I’m still addicted and still love that stuff, but most of the frames into which one could put it, wouldn’t feel honest to me.

And then trying to find some frames, some ways in which this can live, with all its potency, and beauty and pain—and the Kant thing, the feeling of pleasure and pain, the feeling of life, Kant’s idea of the ultimate expression of art, as I understand it from my limited reading of philosophy. But the feeling of pleasure and pain, which is the same as the feeling of life, and that that can come out through dance, both doing it and experiencing it as an audience member, and trying to find a frame for this. And certainly that trio of yours is a frame for it that for me is incredibly honest, especially in juxtaposition to the solo that comes before. It’s so wild to think that out of this self comes a set up that creates this aesthetic object. It’s like the trio is the aesthetic object, more. It’s not entirely... And the solo is more, even though the solo is also an aesthetic object in a lot of ways, but more than that it’s also the self. And I’m going to relate that to Not-About-AIDS-Dance. It’s like the dancing is the aesthetic object and the text becomes mine and all of the dancers’ selves (filtered through me, in this case). That somehow there’s a juxtaposition of the two. I wonder if that’s one of the strategies—but it’s not a strategy, it’s not like a thought out strategy—but it’s one of the ways that we both maybe came up with, maybe differently, in order to have dancing on stage.

MG: I think it is. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. What the power of language is in performance. I don’t know. I always question. What I like about the language in your work is that it’s projected; it’s not spoken.

NG: It’s outside the time; it’s atemporal in that way.

MG: It’s thought bubbles, right. It sort of floats in front of your consciousness and you take it in…

NG: Or not.

MG: Or you don’t. And you create the language in your head, right, ‘cause you’re reading it.

NG: And it exists simultaneously…

MG: Hovering over, yeah.

NG: Kind of trying to hold the two together. Today, in preparation for this talk, I was reading some of the other Critical Correspondence interviews, including Tere O’Connor with Yasuko Yokoshi bringing in poetics, holding two or more different things together, simultaneously, and not trying to connect them or separate them—these are my own words now, but I think this is part of what Tere was getting at—just the poetics of it and that that is… that’s so Cunningham too! It’s like ‘we’re here, and there are the noises from the street, and there are the chance occurrences, and all these things together become our life.

MG: That’s an exercise in perception.

NG: Yes, an exercise in perception; I use that language too. But right now it’s occurring to me that it’s not just an exercise, it’s an experience. And back to the philosophy, that’s what art can do for us; it can take us away from our following our nose to get what we need and want, to experiencing, to broadening our perspective, in some way, which just makes life so much richer.

MG: Yeah. I certainly think dance does that. The poetics of experience very much get articulated in that.

NG: Yeah. Dance really gets to that. It’s one of the things Tere was saying. First that question of why dance? Why especially dance? I don’t know if especially dance, for sure, but dance can especially do certain things that other art forms can’t do. And the body is such a big question of experience. And we are the art form of the body! Hey!

Let’s hear the tag line: We are the art form of the body! Support us!

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Audio, Miguel Gutierrez, Neil Greenberg, PDF


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Miguel Gutierrez

Miguel Gutierrez lives in Brooklyn and makes performances, music and poetry. He is a 2016 Doris Duke Artist. His most recent work, a queer trilogy called Age & Beauty, was presented whole or in pa...
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Neil Greenberg

Merce Cunningham Dance Company 1979-86; Dance By Neil Greenberg 1986 – present; Dance faculty – Eugene Lang College, The New School (currently), UC Riverside, SUNY Purchase and Sarah Lawrence (previou...
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