ground reference

POSTED IN as a maker, Projects 27.02.2011

direction by Kristin Hatleberg

danced by Janet Aisawa, Amy Jones, Allyson Paty, Ariel Polonsky, Zoe Schieber

sound by Jim Smith

The study of the body remaining still, while in motion:

There are so many experiences we have no choice but to endure, and they wear grooves into our bodies.   Take the morning’s commute as an example: Here in New York City, people mill around on a platform waiting for the train, step on, ride to their stop, and exit. It’s easy to think you’re not “doing” anything during that time, when in fact your body is logging a complex chain of compensations for every acceleration, turn, and jerk of the train on the tracks. Is it possible to physically map these compensations? Can we log our bodies coping mechanisms and create a memory map of experience? Of the imprints made on our bodies by the motion of the train?

My dancers and I attempted to, and the results are cataloged in “ground reference,” which has been presented as both a staged performance and a living installation in a gallery setting. We rode the same exact route day after day, and observed our bodies reactions over and over and over again. We recorded what our bodies were doing, and then aired the actions back on solid ground with as much exactitude as was possible. In the performance each performer wears an iPod and listens to a field recording of their specific train ride, using the sound for memory reinforcement. Each performer is restrained to a two square feet of space–the amount of room MTA allows for personal space when designing trains and determining mass capacity.