For those of you who couldn't make it on Wednesday night, this is what I performed at Dixon Place for the Hot! Festival edition of UnderExposed curated by the illustrious Jack Ferver. Jack was called away to Paris at the last minute for a very special teaching gig and he asked me to fill-in as the "host" of the evening, introducing the brilliant co-performers and then reading my piece at the end. This is the piece that I read. It's still pretty raw but I wanted to post it here for a few reasons. For one thing, I kind of like how it turned out. Also, the piece includes a couple different threads which I'm working with in a few different stories / ideas. I'm also into the idea of 'performance texts', especially insofar as they convey a verbal quality. I've included what could be called stage directions as "pause", etc. So you have to kind of imagine what that would be like if I was reading it onstage at the end of a very exciting and very queer dance performance.
BILLY CHEER'S LOVE NOTE FOR DANCE
Jack asked me if I wanted to participate in this evening and I just kind of went for it. So: I’m not a dancer. I’m not even a non-dancer. I feel like I should disclose that because dance audiences, from my understanding, do not take well to bullshit. Y’know: NO TO MAKE-BELIEVE. They also probably don’t appreciate pandering, either. Oops. (Pause).I would like to think they would accept someone failing onstage, like as a possible outcome. So.
I wanted to address this the best way I know how. I’ve seen Dance at parties. I’ve met Dance, I think. I think I’ve seen it, but like anything else in New York, everybody tells me that I haven’t seen the Real Dance, that maybe if I were here in the 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, I could have seen the Real Dance. But I am pretty certain I’ve seen it or something close to it. I think I would recognize it but I don’t think Dance has any idea who I am. Doesn’t even know I’m alive! Okay, I take that back.
I asked a friend of mine, a dancer friend, what to say. Like, if I was writing a love note to dance, what should I talk about? He seemed confused, and suggested that instead of writing it a note and reading it out loud that I just do a dance instead. That I should talk to it in it’s own language, but that kind of defeats the point of it, to me. Somebody else said that if I was going to write the note that I should just refer to the reading of it as “mouth choreography” cause then it’d count as “choreography”. But that seemed sort of like co-opting it, kind of presumptuous or something. Like getting into bed when Dance goes to get a glass of water, if we were on a date or something. It seemed like jumping the gun, or cheating, or tacky. And isn’t that what Dance is all about? Seduction? (Pause). It might not be, I’m just asking. Gosh though, wouldn’t that be great if it were? I think it’s probably about a couple of other things, too. Okay.
And then my dancer friend said that I should just talk about the QUALITY OF MOVEMENT. That makes absolutely no sense to me. What does that even mean? How can you describe that? It seemed like an impossible thing to do, and the futility factor of it was a turn off for me and so I gave it up. It seems, then, like maybe a bad idea to ask a dancer how to address Dance, in a love note. It feels like I’m asking someone how to hit on their parents or something. Just creepy, and I can’t entirely trust the kid.
I feel like I used to know so many more Dancers. Like, when I was in school. When I was in college, it didn’t seem so inconceivable that Dance and I might wind up together, somehow. Like, I know I definitely thought Dance was cute, there were really attractive things about it, and I think I could have been with Dance. But it just never happened. I felt like there was never time. The people I know who were with Dance the most, the most dedicated Dancers I knew were all in college, or just out of college. Most of the dancers I knew aren’t dancers anymore, either. They’re chefs, or writers, or performance artists or filmmakers or something else, now. I feel like either Dance is really fickle or my age group and I are just on the outs with Dance. Next week is my birthday, I will officially still be popping zits at twenty-six. It seems like Dance is sometimes really into younger people, but I also know for a fact that Dance has a lot of lovers and hangs out with people over 35.
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about perfume commercials, as a way of saying something without saying it. The whole premise of perfume commercials is to show you pictures and sounds that relay the feeling you’d get, or give the impression of, a smell that you have to imagine.
When I am thinking about perfume commercials I am thinking about dance. And I’m thinking about how when you go to see a dance show it’s sort of someone making something with their body that’s resonant with the body you have too. Or, just, that there are other possible ways to express something without coming right out to say it, that that’s not always the best way to say something. You can’t describe everything that way. And Dance, I guess, describes things in ways other than the explicitly verbal. And I’m also thinking about perfume commercials because even when they’re freaky (I mean, who wants to smell like a salty Kate Moss?) they seem to be sexy. Or at least sensual. They’re pictures and sounds that get you to want to have a certain smell. That is complex.
I’m just thinking a lot about desire. And desire, as we know, is the distance between what you have and what you don’t have. Desire is a space. How nice. What are some things you can do with a space?
It seems like dance is about addressing and sometimes potentially conversing spaces, and distances, and feelings, and ideas. And that desire could be one of the spaces that Dance does it to.
So this is the big thing that I think I might have in common with Dance. This is the thing I think I could maybe bring up at a party, by way of an introduction to Dance. Something we could talk about. Desire. Using Desire (the feeling) to talk about desire (the space). I think Dance might understand. So this is the love note to dance, to recognize something in it which is: to project outwards from ourselves in hopes of making each other understand.