What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations §621
A Dancer that had Paused:
The idea of leaving -- or departing from -- the path of a full professional orthodox dancer and embracing instead the space of an extended pause; in a no-dance that challenged fixed dance lines and opened-up a new field of other dances, started long time ago. This premonition of rupture happened between too many mirrors and an acrobatic like gestures, between time 5 versus 8, contretemps and a bolt change; in the yet to be embraced dyslexia, which could not count or think, nor remember or take instructions and pre settled directions. This was another way to perceptivity, another sensorial legacy, that flowed and improvised within inner unexpected yet familiar rhythms.
For the love of what dance could be, for me to stay, to go, and come back from that dance that had to be hated and the one I had eventually found and loved.
Was this a dance for entertaining, as a courtly event of miraculous acrobatic achievements of extreme bending and other delicacies brought out of our bodies when disciplined to ever extreme new heights, or was a dance that spring from ritual, as a language of communication, for mediating spirits in the gestures and rhythms that induced trance and communication?
A dance as a private intimate perception, on every day's body trajectories, or quotidian signs, positions, that our living in the world has produced and keeps creating: walking, kneeling, crawling, eating, cleaning, bathing, showering. Old or new poses and positions, mixed with new movements and actions from our relation to new machines, to our encounters with nature in trees, plants, grass, wildflowers or the concrete and brick of buildings and city spaces.
Sensing, relating, responding, communicating, celebrating.
It was long ago when I left Dance as a known professional path, to keep dance where I wanted it to be, not so much on a great elitist stage, not submitted to cultural politics and its gatekeeper’s personal tastes with its evident priorities or to the needs of the entertainment industry and society of spectacle, working like a huge wheeling apparatus of constant activities; nor either to have to submit to the eternal youth principles and exclusive focus to the physical and technical abilities that make of us master exploiters of our own bodies, always about pimping ourselves.
This is how it works in our actual court. It transforms talent into a commodity. It exploits artists as its frontline foot soldiers of an agreeable soft propaganda which is so hard to our bodies and to our self-exploitation for sustaining its aesthetic values till its exhausted paroxysm: where an artist has to suffer, or inflict suffering, compete ruthlessly against its peers instead of becoming a celebratory companionship, sweating blood and bile on equal parts.
This dance is not like the ritualistic based Folk dance from the countryside villager celebrations, where dance comes from soil and trees and seeds and farming and flocks and flowers rain and sun, along all the moon facets. Once one realised that it all was so simple and basic, that its childhood was filled with ritualist dances and sounds, manifested across summer festivities and celebrations in the smallest villages of Navarre, in sites where "modern civilisation" had not arrived yet. Isolated by Franco's fascist atemporality a relation to ritual folk events was the missing link that explained the tension between that ideal dream of ballet dance of discipline which would never be possible but had to be paused.
Esther Planas 2010
In this section there are a few of many images that come from starting points in testing alternative movements and interacting with other phases of my work and explorative trajectory. Some are of performing at gallery spaces in 1996 others, in urban sites, and later back into the gallery space 20 years later. One thing that seem to characterise the direction taken from some departing point, is that of an ambivalence or constant crisis, between working in the world of spectacle and commerce versus an ever recurring need to escape, to flee from it. Once this is achieved, the next crisis is how to give sense to a vocational praxis and way of been in the world, that so much depends on its identity consolidated via success and virtuosic values, to be given sense and purpose, beyond those objective sites of achievement. How to dance and be a dance without belonging to a dance scene, an art scene that is sanctioned and regulated by a homogeneous canon that is alien to anything one sees or wants from dance to be.
Movement or dance?
Spectacle or conversation?
Ritual, real or staged?
A whole ambivalence about vocation, talent, gift, mediumistic capacities, mysticism, ritualistic relations, and celebration and how to negotiate to navigate produce dialogue inhabit the world that transforms all of this into a spectacle, entertainment, excellence, competitiveness, envy, betrayal, isolation, surface, monetary investment propaganda, distraction, decoration.
My training as a dancer had been very intensive over the years since 1970, but I also had experienced a massive crisis about what was for me to be a professional dancer and what was dance about. My need for questioning take me to unexpected conclusions. I had stopped dancing on various occasions due to illness or physical problems (ankles and knees) and had come back for it every time to find new insight and techniques that surprised and inspired me and I had to liberate myself of what it felt like a too intensively physical dynamic in my life. The so called Dance Theatre seemed closer and somehow, after years of investigating how to assemble that praxis along my various others as visual artist; I had found spatial and always yet unknown zones for my works based on improvisation: as an actor and medium inside a context that could be film, installation, book, stage or outdoors sites. I am also using and reviving the pictures and films of ancient rehearses and investigations on improvising sessions of a self that has long gone away (1996). A times when I used to search movements and positions that could be used for my work further, cross-pollinating the material used as a visual artist.
Always aiming at a critical crossover, at a feeding of one on to the other and a step from one dimension on to an unknown, not yet site of possibility.
Esther Planas 2022