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Countdown to Gala 2017, Day 15: Excerpts from Issue #37 of the Movement Research Performance Journal

The 2017 Movement Research Gala on May 8 will celebrate 25 years of Movement Research at the Judson Church and 50 Issues of the Movement Research Performance Journal. As we count down the days until the Gala, we’re posting #50DaysOfMRPJ with Editor’s Notes and excerpts from each Performance Journal.

Movement Research Performance Journal Issue #37 was released in Fall 2010. You can view the full Table of Contents here.

*The Movement Research Gala will take place Monday, May 8 at 6pm at Judson Memorial Church. For more information, to volunteer or to purchase tickets, click here.

#MRGala2017 #50DaysOfMRPJ

MRPJ#37: Chrysa Parkinson

Editor’s Note

Editors: Trajal Harrell, Moriah Evans

I think the dance world has a fetish for anniversaries. I must admit I am a little bit suspicious, but who can blame us for wanting to celebrate and announce our survival. In the case of the 20th anniversary of the MRPJ, if those journals could talk about their own survival, the stories they would tell would no doubt rival “Saturday Night Live.” But as it is, let’s just hope they make it to the party ;)

For this issue, we decided that it was time to put our focus specifically on dancers. Although, the boundary between being a dancer and a choreographer is constantly in flux, we wanted to just shift our attention a bit. Recognizing that as trends have also shifted at Movement Research, in general, favoring the choreographic process is perhaps also an outgrowth of the breakdown of the company model. It seems more and more artists are taking the choreographic impulse in their own hands. Yet, I harken back to when I first came to know Movement Research housed in Context Studios on Avenue A. There was a definite feeling in the building that exploring dancing and being a dancer was just as vital an impulse. One such person I remember teaching at MR at the time was Becky Hilton. Check out the interview in this issue alongside the other thought provoking pieces.

It’s true that trends change and we must not confuse memory nor statistics with truth. I dare say, that choreography and dance will always be in a tango together. I do, however, agree that we can separate them as current artistic thought and practice is theorizing. Though, let’s be frank, they’re a little bit more than kissing cousins! And now that we’ve gotten that out the way, I hope this focus on dancers in the journal will be a change not just for this issue, but a recalibrating of our emphasis here at the MRPJ.

And on a last note of sadness, writer Jill Johnston died on September 18th. Among other things, her writing helped illuminate the dance and performance burgeoning in the 1960’s and 1970’s in New York — a fervent period of change and new definitions which Johnston was committed to articulating. The news of her passing came too late for this issue, but we are gearing up for a tribute in the next issue.

All the best, Trajal

I first stumbled upon Chrysa Parkinson’s myriad of identities through text. I was reading a book about P.A.R.T.S. published by P.A.R.T.S. and read this amazing essay, and I was in awe: who is this woman? She seems to have a key to various alchemical mysteries brewing in the domain of dance and precise articulation about what we are all up to all the time as dancers with such a nuanced understanding of contemporary dance history from the perspective of a dancer. Here is a woman who has integrated brain to body and back again so that the old Cartesian duality we gripe too often about in dance circles is utterly dismantled.

As Tere O’Conor explains:“Chrysa is taking responsibility for the full breadth of what it means to be a dancer on a different level and creating a new vision of that — she is a thinker-dancer-teacher-maker-writer.” As the boundaries between “dancers” and “choreographers” and “critics” and “dramaturgs” shift, collapse, bump into each other, switch places and morph in this era of dance, lets acknowledge that we are at a point in history when careers like Chrysa’s really do propose a new model for the practice of being a dancer.

All I can tell you, honestly, is that you should pay careful attention to this portfolio. Please think about everything that Chrysa Parkinson dances, says, draws and writes more than once — at least twice. Study this model that she’s forged for herself and apply it.

— Moriah

STRUCTURING AN IDENTITY AS A PERFORMER (excerpt)

by Chrysa Parkinson
View PDF of full article here.

WHAT IS IT? A FLUID STRUCTURE WITH 4 CONSTANTS, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

*WHAT I CAN DO OR *NATURE
*HOW I SEE MYSELF OR *IMPOSSIBLE EPHEMERA
*HOW OTHERS SEE ME OR *UNCONTROLLABLE ONSLAUGHT
* WHAT I CAN’T DO BUT TRY TO LEARN TO DO OR *NURTURE

EXAMPLES OF HOW THE STRUCTURE MIGHT LOOK:
A POOL OF WATER WITH FOUR AREAS OF DYE, SPINNING AND STREAKING AND SETTLING BACK INTO SEPARATION

A HOUSE WITH FOUR ROOMS

A DOUBLES PING PONG GAME. I AM THE BALL

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