Richard Move in conversation with Abigail Levine


In 1996, five years after Martha Graham's death, Richard Move began summoning her to the stage, using his own body as the medium for her performance. Move refers to the dances he performs as Graham's works, although he has always engaged in a process of “de-reconstruction” of the choreography, making them his own creations as well. When asked who it is an audience is seeing on stage, Richard Move or Martha Graham, his answer is both: “I used to say [I performed] 'as' her, and now I’m saying 'with' her.” It is worth noting that, while Move's resemblance to Graham on stage is truly uncanny, it does require a certain metamorphosis—Move is a broad-shouldered man, well over six feet tall. While expert make-up and costuming, as well as meticulous study of Graham's work and affect, enhance Move's ability to bring Graham's apparition to the stage, there is an additional air of her presence in his body that one can best account for with the language of summoning. Move's work raises questions, in the most pleasurably troubling way, about the enduring (after)life of dance in absence of the body that originally gave it substance. Move's performances with Martha ask: Can we separate the dance from the body that danced it? If we insist the dance can outlast the dancer's body, does that dance remain in some suspended state, available and ready to animate another body? How long can the dance last outside of a body? While I pose these questions a bit fabulously (reflective of the tone of Move's relationship to Graham's work), they do point to the very concrete questions of how and whether to struggle to preserve dance. These questions have come to the fore in recent years, both by the increased availability of video and other digital archiving technologies, and by the art museum's interest in presenting and collecting performance, including dance. The proximity to the museum, with its longstanding archival infrastructure and historicizing imperative, asks dance directly about its plans for the future. In the fall of 2013, the MoMA presented Boris Charmatz's 20 Dancers for the XX Century, a program that grows out of his larger project Musée de la Danse. Charmatz describes the Musée de la Danse as “an antinatural crossbreeding between museum, place of preservation, dance, art of motion, and choreographical centre, place of production and residence” that “joints the living with the reflexive — art and archive, creation and transmission.” I spoke to Richard Move in December 2013 and asked him to reflect on his experiences performing (with Graham) in 20 Dancers for the XX Century. In the interview that follows, Move addresses the effects of the museum on their performance—the introduction of long duration into his work, the interaction with works of visual art, and the different relationship with an audience that is able to circulate freely around his work. He also addresses practicalities of performing in a space designed for the display and preservation of objects that is yet to develop infrastructure to support the performances it is beginning to present.

-Abigail Levine

View more images of Richard Move's performance at the MoMA Download a PDF of this conversation

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Interview Date: December 1, 2013   Background Abigail Levine: Let’s frame this largely as a conversation about the experience of Richard Move as Martha Graham in 20 Dancers for the XX Century, but if you would give me the most brief sketch of your trajectory in a few sentences: coming to Martha and then the evolution of that over the last many years. When did you start and what venues did you perform in, and what venues and projects you are taking this into today.
class="size-full wp-image-8537" alt="RM 3" src="https://movementresearch.org/criticalcorrespondence/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/RM-3.jpg" width="320" height="239" /> Richard Move with Douglas Gordon's video "Play Dead; Real Time" (2003) in Martha Graham's "Clytemnestra" (1958). Photo: Suzzanne Ponomarenko
Richard Move: The Martha Graham series began at a fantastic venue called Mother in 1996. We were there about four years, then started touring pretty widely, and now my odyssey with Martha continues. I like to say I just kind of stay out of her way, and she comes to me about where we are appearing together next. 20 Dancers for the XX Century was the same sort of thing, just developing this performance over the years, performing this character, this ever evolving deepening character study, in lots of different venues around the world. She is going to make another museum appearance in Singapore in the end of June, beginning of July at the Museum of Asian Civilization, which is staggering, if you can just imagine. So, you’ve got Singapore as this amalgamation of different Asian civilizations, just as the name of the museum implies, and then you’ve got the antiquities in this extraordinary museum. So that’s related, I guess, to 20 Dancers for the XX Century. But what was so interesting to me about the 20 Dancers for the XX Century was... that example is rather obvious: it’s like, okay she slept in a Chinese opium bed so let’s dance in front of the opium bed, or do a monologue in front of the opium bed about her long history in Asia, where she talks about Asia. That might not be the case at all I’d just need to see it because one of the things that was so interesting about 20 Dancers for the XX Century was this idea that we met (maybe Tuesday) the week of the performances and had walk-throughs and then convened on one or two different occasions (a Wednesday and/or Thursday) and described some of the spaces we were most inspired by. One of them for me was the beautiful installation of the elephant videos in that big room off the atrium. It was interesting because that wasn’t even on Boris' preliminary list of the twenty spaces he was going to use. But a lot of it, it was clear, was going to happen right on the night when he arrived in New York that week. Anyway, that space really turned me on because Graham had a deep affinity with elephants, and wrote about elephants, and spoke about elephants, and so I just wanted to be in that room.   20 Dancers for the XX Century: Preparation and proposal Abigail: As Boris approached you for this project, what was the invitation and what were the parameters before you got into the museum? Richard: Oh boy, it was really broad. I guess they reached out to me in maybe May or June. It was very broad. In Musée de la danse, Boris wanted me to appear as Graham. There was period that it seemed to me that we were going to be performing during all of the operating hours of the museum. Then, by the end of August, it became clear it was five hours per day. To be honest there weren’t that many more parameters or instruction. I started imposing parameters because I needed to prepare and rehearse the different solos because the parameters were definitely the 20 Dancers for the XX Century performing solos. And so I would communicate with Boris, okay I’m working on these eight solos and they are this long. The other parameter was the idea that the sound would be very rudimentary and involve just a boom box. Abigail: What did he express as his goals or interests with 20 Dancers? Richard: I think the expression of the concept really came through the exact same wording, frankly, as the concept of the Musée de la danse. For instance, that paragraph on the MoMA’s website about Three Collective Gestures and particularly the 20 Dancers for the XX Century paragraph, that was actually cut and pasted into a lot of the email correspondence. That was the concept. The particulars were definitely solos, definitely rudimentary sound with boom boxes, and to maintain a kind of fluidity, that a lot of it would be decided and determined on site, when the dancers and Boris were all in New York at the same time and space, actually at MoMA. So really it was quite that broad. So then I had to make it specific for myself, because that is too broad for me. So I started with a list of about eight solos I have, and a few of them don’t require any sound, a few of them did require some sound, either the music I choreographed them to, or my voice as Graham speaking about one of the pieces, or Graham’s voice speaking about one of the pieces. So really that was the only prep for me. I don’t know what the other 20 Dancers where doing with Boris, I have no idea. In my prep from the spring of May/June at the time of the invitation, until the week before, I was working on these solos. If I had photos of them, I even sent photos, approximate lengths of time for them, etc.. Then I had to prepare. Abigail: I’m right in saying that he said that you could misremember, your interpretation of choreography could be very loose, correct? I saw Michael Jackson's “Bad”, but it was just the feel of the choreography. It was not a precise recreation. How did you approach that in terms of Graham’s choreographic material? Richard: Well don’t forget, I’ve already de-reconstructed. Abigail: So when you say solos, these are yours. Richard: My version of the solos. So I’ve already taken that step of… well, “misremembering” is not the appropriate word, because everything I do is very deliberate. But the idea, yes, he was very interested in the deconstruction of the archive and the personal relationship with archive. You, as an exhibition visitor have a much better understanding of what happened at 20 Dancers for the XX Century on a broad scale. I only know what I did. I only saw, and I guess this is case for the other nineteen, I only saw them in action if I happened to be traveling from one point to another. But, in meeting the different things, I heard that people would talk about parts of solos they had difficulty remembering, or their favorite parts of solos. So, things were deconstructed in that way. I already have a level of deconstruction of what I call solos. Abigail: Do you consider them, then, Graham solos, or how do you think about them?
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Richard Move with Douglas Gordon's video "Play Dead; Real Time" (2003) in Martha Graham's "Episodes: Part I" (1959). Photo: Suzzanne Ponomarenko
Richard: I think of them as absolutely Graham’s work. It’s her vocabulary; they are her dramatic scenarios; it’s her costumes. The soundtrack, whether I’m using music, is inspired by her music, and/or her own words. So I very much feel like they are ours. Abigail: So yours and hers. What would you call yourself if she is the choreographer, who are you? Richard: Right now I am saying that we perform together. I choreograph, perform, appear with her. I used to say “as” her, and now I’m saying “with” her. Abigail: Well that’s a different experiential positioning. Richard: I wonder if it has something to do with the duration of my investigation of her and the different places it’s taken me historically, geographically, emotionally, physically. All of that was very heightened with the durational aspect of 20 Dancers for the XX Century. Abigail: Was this the longest you performed at a stretch with Martha? Richard: Oh, absolutely, we’ve never… in general the performances range from your more conventional lengths, between one and two, two and a half hours max. And often times being on and off stage the entire time. So, absolutely, it was our first durational encounter. Abigail: Did Martha enjoy it? Richard: [Laughs] It took our relationship to a whole new level. She and I loved it. Truly. Absolutely. For instance, the durational aspect, for me, was the key to what made the experience exceptional and exciting. Being in that room with that Douglas Gordon elephant, the pity I felt for that creature, and yet its strength and beauty... and thinking about Martha’s writing. Martha tells this story about being in Rangoon in Burma and how they had never heard of Medea and they certainly had never heard of her Cave of the Heart, but they understood exactly what I meant by it. In her famous 1963 interview, she says, “[T]hey gave her a name, gave the ballet a name, which is nearly as I can say, which means what an elephant does when she goes amok, nothing stands in the way, anything that stands in the way goes down. And you feel this in your teeth, you feel this in your mouth.” So when I saw those elephants, I immediately thought about the Greek heroines and their violence. Clytemnestra is walking among the dead, Jocasta commits suicide, and so it’s almost as if the Douglas Gordon elephant embodied both the strength and vulnerability, and definitely the loneliness, of these two Greek heroines. I spent time in that room with the Greek heroines and the elephant. What was so extraordinary (because of course I’ve done my version of those dances in solo and group versions, I’ve done them a lot) but there was something about... especially by day two and three, I stopped breaking character, which I was doing a bit on day one. I enjoy that greatly, telling people how I came to be interested in Martha Graham and almost doing impromptu lec-dems with the public.   Performing and archiving Abigail: So, as regards an archive of Graham’s work, did this project prompt either any thinking of potential, or do you have an investment of the longevity of this work? You are obviously living it. She is continuing to live it now. Is it a step-by-step process, or is it something that is projecting into the future? Does the museum space, does Boris’ museum space, do anything for that project? Richard: Oh, absolutely. One thing I did, speaking of the archives, is I dug into my own archive, and by archive I mean the traditional archive; books and things. I was thinking about ways to interact with the public; how to keep Martha present even if I wasn’t there physically. Over the years I’ve amassed this amazing archive of Graham treasures, books that were hers. So, anyway, I went into my own archive and decided to bring in a very precious book from the 1930s written by Merle Armitage and it was signed by Graham and dedicated to the author. I had one of the museum spectators read from that book while I was on a costume change and break. It was quite cold in the museum, and we had already had Thursday, a ninety minute/two hour kind of rehearsal/walk through of some of our initial ideas, and Boris’ ideas and some of the initial spaces; it was only ninety minutes or two hours, so it couldn’t be all of them. Then the first day was Friday, and on Friday night I realized I had this beautiful jacket that was made by Halston for Baryshnikov and another one for Nureyev back in the 80s for a gala. It was literally a eureka moment, I needed that jacket, literally to stay warm and then I realized I was bringing out all these archival pieces that are in my archive and putting them on exhibit with myself. I was exhibiting my own objects and myself. It’s deep into that project, and that compelled me to make sure that the public was aware of what they were seeing.
class="size-full wp-image-8538" alt="RM 4" src="https://movementresearch.org/criticalcorrespondence/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/RM-4.jpg" width="320" height="320" /> Richard Move with Douglas Gordon's video "Play Dead; Real Time" (2003) in Martha Graham's "Episodes: Part I" (1959). Photo: Suzzanne Ponomarenko
Abigail: Did you feel like this space and framework served Martha and her work well? Richard: Oh, beautifully. Another example is that David Hammons installation with the Duchamp book rebound as a holy bible on an altar. I started a lot of the days with my version of Graham’s Episodes Part I, which was her kind of collaboration with Balanchine in 1959 where she and Balanchine split an evening. It’s all about Mary Queen of Scot’s last moments, and so I have to tell you that being in that room, it was kind of this off-brown that Hammons decided on the color with the bible with the alter. Then I realized that there were these hand sanitizers on the other three walls, and they did serve a purpose. It was a bit of a double speak, in theory, MoMA and Hammons wanted the exhibit to be exhibition visitors (I’m talking on a macro, not just 20 Dancers for the XX Century for the XX Century), and they could touch the bible but their hands should be clean so that’s why they were placed in the room. So, anyway, also I realized they created a crucifix. So that room became to me like Mary Queen of Scots going to her execution. So I just looped or spoke the text I have from my version of that dance, which is just set to words of Graham speaking about Mary Queen of Scots and speaking about collaborating with Balanchine. Did it serve the piece? It brought the piece to a whole new level, and the next time I want to do it, I always want to be in that room with that set. Abigail: It seems a fair estimation then that the space and its history and curation and you and Martha were mutually affecting in a productive way. Were there challenges in this re-contextualizing or this new context for yours and Martha’s performance? Richard: Challenges… well, you know, I think all of challenges became pluses for me. All of the challenges I turned into opportunities. If I was speaking, or Martha was speaking, and I heard anyone talk, I took that as an opportunity to directly quiet them because this was important information, and Martha is one of the great creators of modern art—we are in a museum of modern art, so this is of equal importance to the Matisse and the Picasso that you can see on the fifth floor gallery. So I guess, at first, the noise of the public, people wandering through a museum, talking to each other, etc. could have been an obstacle, but I turned it into an opportunity to lecture them about the importance of listening attentively. If they are expressing, by being at a museum of modern art, an interest in modern art, then they best listen and learn about this other great modern artist.
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Richard Move with Douglas Gordon's video "Play Dead; Real Time" (2003) in Martha Graham's "Episodes: Part I" (1959). Photo: Suzzanne Ponomarenko
There were other challenges… I had a great time, and there were some really interesting moments making eye contact when I wasn’t in the Douglas Gordon elephant’s room. That was almost like a full on theater space with theater lighting, in a way, that the projections provided. But I could still make eye contact with them in the elephant room as I call it. But I was assigned to stay on the second floor galleries, to go from Hammons to the elephants. But when I would go through the space it was great, one maybe could maybe have said it was a challenge with people in my way while I was dancing a short phrase in front of another painting that just caught my eye or inspired me. I would simply make eye contact with them, dance with them, and most of the time they would imitate my gesture, and if they didn’t, I would follow them through the museum. So things that would normally break one’s concentration or fall outside of what was my plan (i.e. dance a phrase in front of this painting on my way to the elephants, or on my break to change or something) I would turn into opportunities. Abigail: So this particular time and space allowed you certain possibilities than other structures of performing had not previously? Richard: Absolutely, and especially dealing with the public and maneuvering between the spaces. I decided I was always on, either as myself, as Martha, or both. As soon as I would leave what were the backstage areas I would either be speaking with the audience or have music playing or Martha’s voice playing or I would be speaking with the audience or dancing in front of the open windows of the café where people could see me. So I would turn all of that into a performative opportunity. Yes, it would not have existed outside of the space of MoMA. Abigail: Yes, this is all the potentials that I have seen and experiences in performing in visual art spaces: the question of duration, the question of the flexibility of relation with the audience and with architecture and other art and visual stimulation. I certainly saw it realized in your performance, and I am glad it felt like it was all available to you. One of the most striking things for me in watching this was that there was almost this way in which it was a righting of history, righting as in making right. Martha Graham as giant of modern art of course, and Michael Jackson who was interpreted by Mani A. Mungai. He performed in front of the helicopter hanging on the third floor, and it was like, “Of course, of course these figures are giants of 20th century, and in such obvious dialogue with these spaces, art objects, trends” and so there was this really amazing moment of restoration and of history that doesn’t get seen in that space a lot.
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Richard Move in Martha Graham's "Episodes, Part 1" (1959). Photo: Connie Fleming.
Richard: Right. Abigail: In that way, there were some striking missing pieces for me in that project though… Richard: Missed artists you mean? Abigail: Yes, for sure. Richard: Yeah. Abigail: As I understand it, though that seemed the focus in some of the excitement for me, that that was more incidental as far as Boris’s interest. Richard: Could you say more about that? Abigail: The placement of that history within this space, this palace of modern art, was more incidental to Boris. He was not trying to create a thorough or American and European dance archive in those three days. Richard: Yeah, I don’t really know what his intention was with the selection of the 20. I think that there were a few glaring omissions if you are going to think of modern and postmodern dance history. But at the same time, how many can you include, and I’m not sure… You know it was a strange experience, I don’t know if others feel differently, but I did not feel part of a collective at all. Like I said, I was literally, physically unable to experience anything anybody else was doing. I’m not sure of the floor patterns. I believe, at certain times, other dancers inhabited the same spaces, and so I had a very singular experience. Literally, I didn’t know what other people were doing or where they were. Except I did kind of force that moment to happen with Gus Solomons - because I was so touched by, and I knew Gus… I knew that there was a period when he was in the Hammons room, and I made a point to make it in there and at the end of the performance of one of his solos, and we recounted that conversation he had with Graham on Thanksgiving, as told in Robert Tracey’s book Goddess. I really just wanted to make that happen. But that was the only interaction I had with any other dancer of the 20th or any other century I had over the weekend.
class="size-full wp-image-8558" alt="RM 10" src="https://movementresearch.org/criticalcorrespondence/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/RM-10.jpg" width="320" height="320" /> Richard Move in Martha Graham’s "Clytemnestra" (1958). Photo: Joey Ellis.
Abigail: There was also, in thinking about time and temporarily, there was a time that I watched you cross the atrium from behind a Cunningham solo and it looked very much like a haunting of the space. Richard: Yes, I’m glad you brought that up because that wasn’t an accident. I believe that was about… I can’t remember the exact time, but I was headed up from a costume change and break, and I was headed to my space and I could either cross the atrium or go through the smaller galleries. When I saw the dancer in the atrium, Ashley Chen I think, I thought, oh, Martha needs to pass through. So yeah, there were wonderful moments of synchronicity like that I noticed. Then both of us made note of it at the end of the day. Let’s make that happen again. But I believe their half hour schedule changed, and/or, like I said, by Saturday/Sunday I was losing all track of time, so it never happened again. So there were some wonderful moments like that. Abigail: I’m wondering also about... you and Martha were there, these Cunningham dances were there, this moment between Martha and Gus reanimated in this space, but this museum space is one that is designed to hold onto these works of art and be able to take them out and display them whenever they want, and now they are inviting in this sort of other way of making memory or making past. Was this satisfying? Poignant? And did this sit well as an endeavor in this space, thinking about the ongoing life of dance as a cumulative project next to the visual arts? Richard: I hope so. I’ve shared with you my personal experience, but I wonder. I wonder if it elevates the form. I hope it does, I hope that the non-performance, non-dance people, the general public, the thousands of them who happened to be walking through the museum that day... that’s a question I think only they can answer: did this project elevate, or get them, at least, thinking about live performance and dance as they ponder the import and value of the visual arts? That I think is a question that only those throngs of people who go to MoMA can answer. I don’t think it’s for the twenty dancers to answer, or Boris, or the performance curators, or the dance and performance press. I think that is for the public. I’d love to hear what they have to say.   Logistics and conditions of the performance Abigail: You felt as a performance platform for this endeavor that you are engaged in, that it was respectful to your craft and to your project? Richard: I forced it to be. I made it work. I made it have value and import. So I felt, and I felt like the response was, that what Martha Graham and I were doing together was as important as what was happening on those video screens with the elephant. They were inextricably linked. It was interesting I got some emails and calls after saying that “the elephant is very lonely without Martha.” Another person said that the “elephant needs Martha to put the elephant in context” which was really interesting. But, they only understood the elephant in the context of Martha’s presence. I think that’s a success if the goal is to elevate dance on the level of visual art object in a culture that doesn’t value dance or live performance highly in general. I also think what happened is seeing these tragic figures of Graham’s with this elephant underscored the themes and illuminated the themes of that piece of art, that the idea of this elephant on the Gagosian gallery floor was just kind of helpless, and the title of the work, Play Dead Real Time, I think for some people what I was doing was an entry point into the visual art. In that way, I felt that definitely we were of equal importance to the visual art. Abigail: Your response: “I forced it,” begs the question: did you wish for some other support to your performance?
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Richard Move with Douglas Gordon's video "Play Dead; Real Time" (2003) in Martha Graham’s "Clytemnestra" (1958). Photo: Joey Ellis.
Richard: [Laughs] No! None, whatsoever. I had over-prepared. The only thing that was an obstacle, and I hope that they are able to rectify this soon, was that I do feel that the institution of the caliber of MoMA, especially now that they have an official performance and media department ....that if they are going to be presenting more dance, or live performance, they do need to invest in a designated green room/dress room/private bathroom for dancers and performers. And that does not seem like a big deal to me. But I do have to say that that was an obstacle, but again I overcame it. My great makeup artist and I started at 9:30 each morning down by the education department because that was the best light. But then people would start coming so we found a way to make it work.But as a performer, if I didn’t have the kind of experience I did with Martha, that could have thrown somebody else. It could have really undermined somebody’s performance. There was no respite anywhere from the cold. The areas that were assigned, you know, basically classrooms for the dressing rooms areas were the same temperature as the rest of the museum which was quite cold, and I know some of the dancers really felt like it was contributing to some aches and pains, if not full on injuries. I found a way to manage it, I actually went outside and warmed up in the sun for a few minutes. I hope that they take that more seriously the more dance they present.Abigail: So relatedly, how is this project as a performance job, or a gig? You can give me as many details as you want, or just general reflection in terms of the practicalities of this as a performance job.Richard: So in terms of practicalities, what I just described would be the main obstacle. Abigail: I also mean fair compensation for the amount you were working and clarity and decency of contract, or just differences in terms of your being contracted to perform in a theater or another setting.
class="size-full wp-image-8568" alt="RM 15" src="https://movementresearch.org/criticalcorrespondence/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/RM-15.jpg" width="320" height="239" /> Richard Move with Douglas Gordon's video "Play Dead; Real Time" (2003) in Martha Graham’s "Episodes: Part I" (1959). Photo: Connie Fleming.
Richard: Well, it was completely different. We have a two-person version of the show coming up in Nebraska at the February, and I have the tech rider and the theater temperature is meant to be maintained etc., etc.. But this was a different animal from the beginning, and I understood that. The disparity, when you think of the value of these works of art and you think of the value of the human labor that went into a durational performance, five hours for three days, the disparity is quite great. But that requires an entire cosmology and paradigm shift. In general, performance and dance isn’t given the value it needs to have.That’s why I hope those people that I can’t speak for, the real general public, responded strongly to the dance, if not stronger, or on par with the visual art. Maybe that will start to change this paradigm because it’s not as easily quantifiable, commodifiable, of an object, the performance. I hope it gets to that place. I rarely feel that dance and performance people are compensated to the level that they should be, and this is no different. I actually went to a member of my advisory board for extra monies because I wanted a new costume built. But that was something I wanted. I also knew I wanted my hair and makeup person on site all three days, all day long. So I sought funds elsewhere for that. But that stuff was completely particular to me; nobody else really had a lot of costumes or hair and particular makeup needs.Abigail: Were all of the contracts dealt with through the museum, or through Boris’ company?Richard: All with the museum, yes.  Abigail: What were the things that you calculated in terms of thinking about whether the fee was fair and the demands on your time were fair? What are the elements that you use to calculate that in this situation? Richard: I guess rehearsal and preparation more than anything. Abigail: The amount of time you spent preparing. Richard: Yes, because I had such a long list of possibilities, but at the end of the day that kind of served me. I was over-prepared; I was in really good form physically and vocally. So, I think that was all fine. I had to augment the funds in order to do what I wanted to do in the way that I deemed was the right way. But everyone was paid equally as artists, as performers.

 

Potentials

Abigail: So just changing direction for a moment; what possibilities, what artistic discoveries came out of this, and where might they lead? Richard: I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of my performance. I feel like the durational aspect, especially the difficulty of the floor work that I did over and over again, I think pushed my dancing to a higher place, so that’s fantastic. I think that the contemplation of that character Mary Queen of Scots, over a long period of time in that David Hammons room, will make my performance of that dance more rich. So, I think the experience with Graham with these works of art, with the durational experience has deepened my understanding of her, the character, these dances and my own body. Abigail: And to just underline how interesting it is that putting her performance alongside these other works of art seems to have such a potent effect on all involved. That seems like it holds great potential.
class="size-full wp-image-8565" alt="RM 14" src="https://movementresearch.org/criticalcorrespondence/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/RM-14.jpg" width="320" height="240" /> Richard Move and exhibition visitor with golden noose from Martha Graham's "Night Journey" (1947). Photo: Suzzanne Ponomarenko
Richard: Yes, it’s deepened my understanding of particular aspects of her, of my choreography, of my performance as her, and also some just real brass tacks technical bodily things. I kept doing the knee work and the floor work. All of the floors there are, of course, marble over concrete over something. I felt that the use of the core that we are trained in, to lift out of the floor when going into the floor, I really had to do it on marble. ...which is fantastic, and took my dancing to another level because I came out of each day kind of invigorated. I wasn’t exhausted by it, I was invigorated by it. I think you should talk to some others because what I noticed was that I don’t think everyone felt that way.Abigail: Is there anything else that you want to touch on that we haven’t gotten to here? Richard: I think that’s it. I emailed you a few little things… or maybe just that Gus thing. There were amazing moments. I’ll just leave this note, I’m sure that it is more than enough. There were amazing moments with the public. In Night Journey, Jocasta commits suicide, using a golden noose, which I had. But it was so interesting, because I do this one thing with it choreographically in my version, but it never occurred to me: how do you tie a real noose to hang somebody or hang yourself? I asked the public. I was speaking of all of these instruments of death; there is Clytemnestra's dagger, etc.. An RN from Germany came up and introduced herself, and showed how the knot was made, while she was knotting this golden noose, she said in a German accent, “This is how tonsils used to be pulled out.” Then, of course, she had said that she had seen many a noose-hanging attempt, either failed or successful, in the emergency room as an RN. So, there were really potent surprising moments like that. First of all, no one was saying they knew how to do it, and no one was volunteering and, then, she sort of stepped forward, and I certainly wasn’t expecting that. There were things like that every day.

Abigail: Thank you for this.

Richard: You are so finally welcome, and thanks.   _________________________________________________________________________________________   Richard Move is Artistic Director of MoveOpolis! a TEDGlobal Oxford Fellow and Ph.D. (ABD) in Performance Studies at New York University. His commissions include multi-disciplinary productions for Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Martha Graham Dance Graham Company, American Festival of Paris, Florence Opera Ballet, European Cultural Capitol, Guggenheim Museum, Deborah Harry, Dame Shirley Bassey, Isaac Mizrahi and New York City Ballet Principal, Helene Alexopoulos. MoveOpolis! has been presented by Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, SiteLines/River-to-River Festival and international venues. His films include: Bardo, Jury Prize nominee at Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival, BloodWork-The Ana Mendieta Story, National Board of Review Award at the Director’s Guild of America, GhostLight, Tribeca Film Festival premiere and GIMP- The Documentary, premiering at the 2014 Lincoln Center Dance on Camera Festival. Martha@ ..., Move’s performances as Martha Graham, received two New York Dance and Performance Awards, tours internationally and was named “Best of 2011” by ARTFORUM International and Time Out, among others. Move received his M.F.A. in Media Arts Production from The City College of New York and is Lecturer in Design and Thesis Advisor at the Yale School of Drama.   Abigail Levine is a dance and performance artist from New York. Her works have been shown in theaters, galleries, and diverse public spaces in the US, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Taiwan, at venues including the Movement Research Festival, Center for Performance Research, Mount Tremper Arts Festival, Art in Odd Places, Dixon Place, The Kennedy Center, Prisma Forum (Mexico City), Teatro O Lugar & SESC São Paulo (Brazil), Festival of Dance in Urban Landscapes (Havana), and the Taipei Fringe Festival. Abigail has performed most recently with Marina Abramovic, Carolee Schneemann, PopeL., Clarinda Mac Low, and Mark Dendy. She has published essays and articles in Memory: Documents of Contemporary Art (MIT Press), Women & Performance (Routledge), e-misférica, Movement Research Performance Journal, and TDR. She holds a BA in English and Dance from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Dance and Performance Studies from New York University. Abigail is a 2013-14 editor at Critical Correspondence.  
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Abigail Levine, archive, Boris Charmatz, Dance Theater, David Hammons, Douglas Gordon, duration, Martha Graham, MoMA, museum, Richard Move, site-specific

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