Thursday, May 29, 2008

As long as it's recognized, that's always been the plight

May 28th

Yesterday Gisela did her workshop for the Cape Verdean Capoeira Association. We met them at the usual spot, that of the local Assomada high school. We were received with nervous enthusiasm. I say we for I had to accompany Gisela as interpreter. To do her workshop she needed to send out instructions and I was there to relay them. Master Beto was there ready and willing to participate full heartedly. We had about ten to twelve kids (some came in late) and they were all fully involved. They understood, or were made to understand that such classes in the West cost quite of bit of money, but more so, that someone different was providing something different, and whenever such opportunities in life appear pay attention. Difference in the monotonous is like water in a desert; a quick motivator of change. She did some warm ups and floor exercises, she then moved to some sequences. When asked the students were pleased with the activities, they found it challenging, an addition to their everyday though more subtle and complete, as far as body moving is concerned. They were mostly intrigued by how smooth Gisela moved the ease with which she was able to show the techniques, this by relation to how hard the moves actually were, after they attempted them. They understood the precisions and methods the body has to understand to be able to communicate ideas without words. Something familiar to the activities they are currently in. They were made to take in to account various possibilities, variations on conversations/communications. We ended up by going into the capoeira circle and improvising with the movements they knew and the ones they had just practiced.
We left with high levels of appreciation, from them and us. Beto thanked us and invited us again. One of the students also invited us back, asking Gisela to challenge herself by using only capoeira music the next time.

May 29th

With no time yesterday to finish my writing I have to continue today. The sun is shinning again, like Marley said, and music is sweet. There is some Morna playing in the background. Have not had my tea yet, so the breath is still hot; no one should get too close. Back to yesterday. We pretty much spent the day in Praia; the hot city of Praia. We went this time for some errands. We each had them, but started the day with a common one. We went to meet Cesar Cardoso, the organizer of the exhibition, Texturas Da Cidade. The event will be taking place this Friday the 30th at the Fundacao di Amilcar Cabral. Cesar is a amiable person, a young Cape Verdean intellectual who is also a photographer, and as far as I can assess he is does well in his craft. We went to the space to view it prior to our bit in the exhibition. Magaly will be putting on one of her videos in a sectioned are of the building, and Gisela and I will be doing a collaboration performance piece, with voices and dance. While there we got into a slightly heated discussion about one’s position on improvisation and professionalism. I argued the fact that improvisation does not mean you have not taken the time to know the piece you will deliver, the space you will activate, or the crowd you will intercept, it means more that you will rely on past information, relative to the activity you are looking to do and look to activate yourself as you activate the viewers. Magaly’s position was one of responsibility and study, precision and as much accuracy as one can achieve, the constant movement toward increasing your knowledge and information of your work is important and as such in almost all times time and study should be respected; I think now we were taking similar positions, just not seeing them clear though method. The conversation went on for a small chunk of time, with both Cesar and Gisela looking on with slight hints as to which side they may be leaning on, but all good things come to an end. Cesar interrupted us positively and said that our discussion was missing a component, that of its relationship to the medium. That was it, we moved on. Magaly and I later would laugh at how savvy his interruption was, and how he was able to get us back into focus; so we could move on.

Continuing on with yesterday: A day of conversation and critic. Magaly was able to go and view the water plant which supplies ninety five percent of the water to Praia, Gisela and I went for a walk. Earlier that day we wended up with yet another heated discussion. This time it had much to do with the University of Cape Verde and the Residency. Magaly, to my surprise, asked me if I see the residency working with the University, she asked me this right in front of Angelo, the assistant director of the University. This took me back some as Magaly knows how I feel about such partnerships, and to place me in such a position came off a bit testy. I can’t say I appreciated it. I first told Magaly that I was not sure this was conversation for this time. In thought she could have asked me this at any other time, outside the space of the university, if she truly wanted to know my position, but I think she saw herself as an educator and Angelo too, so she sided her herself. I told Angelo that I was planning to have this discussion with him at another point, a point that we could speak as friends, art colleagues, for my position of higher education institutions have always been bitter, of the bad taste kind. After telling him this I did not step back from the questions initially posed by Magaly. I told them I see positive relationships happening with the university and was absolutely appreciative with the attention and welcome we had received thus far, but I also mentioned that such attentions were partly motivated my the relationship the University of CV had with Magaly’s University of Bridgewater State. I also mentioned how the relationship we had thus far established was character based, meaning they came also from a person like Angelo, who is interested in the arts and the critical discourse that is needed in the island. His personality is automatically one that would embrace this residency and as such I can’t place full judgment on the relationship we’ve had with the University sonly on the University; the university also sits as another entity. The residency needs to be as spread as possible, for the Arts touch many facets of a country and the university does not. We argued, essentially, Magaly and I, over the role of Institutions like Brown University in Providence RI, US; their affectability in the city and what roles they should have, their presence and to whom they present. I could go on a small paper on this conversation, but this is a journal of accounts; for the most part. I will say that, again, my position is one of responsibility and awareness, Magaly’s feeling are that such a University as Brown is a leader in outreach and inclusivity; hard to bite seeing how much they charge per class! Again we had a needed interruption, one that eased this conversation into another space. Angelo mentioned that we are yet again not taking into account a component; that Universities, all of them, are businesses and as such it has this as its first priority.
Later that day we got yet another point of critical discussion, when we met Abraau for drinks in the western part of Praia. He had not been able to meet us earlier. He spent most of his day preparing for his weekly shoots. We spoke about Reis di Polon. Some of the views that came from Abraau and Angelo were that they had become stagnant; a certain level of achievement had left them creatively impotent, unable to look back at their work and reflect, motivate, push, assess, reconfigure. This thought was with the understanding that they still had the creative capacity and ability to continue their creative climb. Gisele said how she thought Manu was almost a genius, with how he has incorporated theatre in dance; the current conversation in contemporary dance. His methods of prop making, a gadget man of sorts, were also noted by Abraau. I wondered if an infusion of different choreographers into the company would help. Having different persons make pieces for the company would raise many levels of critic. This would raise the level of technique in the dancers, something they themselves feel they lack, and such studies would confront Manu, making him have to deal with new activities; a creative method of responding. This too we will see. I am interested in continuing our conversation, Manu and I. I will see how receptive he is to this information. I have to thread simply as, once put by Gisela, the man could be bordering genius.

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