This video is from a series of improvisations I did while on vacation at my parents’ house. I wasn’t too focused beyond dailiness and trying different spaces in and around the house. I would dance and then video and dance, play music or turn it off, sometimes write about it. I always picked a clip to post on Instagram (#personalpractice @mypressedflowerspace). I’ve grown to love the 1 minute limit for Instagram videos and found that usually a shorter edit reads better, but looking through what videos I didn’t delete to make more space on my phone, this one I wanted as a whole, the sounds of the bells and the dogs and cars and the afternoon light and the limes on the patio floor.
I had been interested in people tagging videos of themselves dancing, at home, outside, at the museum… with #personalpractice and the momentum and community growing out of it. I messaged some of the folks to find out about what it was for them and included their thoughts in a project for Bebe Miller’s NYC Downtown Dance of the 80’s and 90’s History, Theory and Literature course. I compared the virtual space/community facilitated by the tag to the Open Movement practice of NYC dancers and choreographers in the 80s. Of course, as part of my research I also started my own instagram #personalpractice and have become accustomed to this welcoming group of people liking my videos. I know them by their movements and by their words about their practice, for which I am grateful. Below is an excerpt from the paper.
“I try not to think too much about [what I choose to post] because I don’t want it to become a super curated experience, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t narrow it down from a longer clip to my favorite part” (@smoragbord).
This idea of sharing without being “super curated” is about candid conversation for me. We see each other, we study each other’s movements onscreen. It is short but daily. We are continually tethered to a conversation here on earth. We can imagine the kicked dirty clothes on the bedroom floor, the glances left and right to see who is approaching before improvising on the sidewalk, and yet we can also see how someone else’s movement inside this particular frame will always be a little different than our own. Susan Rethorst says we “yearn for… a kind of pressed-flower version of ourselves, a kind of death before death, an attempt to objectify life even as we live it, to hold it, ‘see’ our own life through its being seen by others” as a way of improving the story of our lives (118). Having witnesses, in the case of #personalpractice videos, takes that desire, and puts it into conversation. If the dance is just watched privately and tweaked and tried from a new angle, making a record of preservation, I can imagine myself a story for others, but the daily public posts keep this self story integrated with others’ and the story changes life as a group project. The group project is reflexive and performs, not as the quality of moments, but as accounts of a person’s life.