Just for the love of it

So I have been thinking recently about credit by association. It’s about trust, it keeps things local whilst still expanding a community…

I have also been thinking a lot recently about being diplomatic, and how I am not even aware of feeling a pressure to be so but I find myself searching for justification and weighing things up and immediately asking, “Why is it that you think that?” inside my head. It makes my explanations of things much more long-winded. It takes more time to allow myself to come to a decision. It means that sometimes I make decisions based on the merit of something that I can understand, but do not feel. It means that because I take more time to think about things, by the time I have reached the end of a (micro) thought process, I am usually feeling less intensely about the situation because time has passed and all that thinking has kind of exhausted me and I just want to go and have fun at this point, or obliterate my sense-making consciousness so I no longer have to think. I have realised that I don’t do things just for the love of them anymore but think myself out of them. Now, I think first about sustainability, I think about money, time and sanity and hassle and energy, I think about responsibility and whether I really can commit to those people, whether I really can deliver that thing, whether it really is helpful to say something or whether it will only be detrimental… I try to anticipate everything.

Seeing these sentences militantly produce themselves along the screen of my angrily purring computer makes me feel a bit sad. This is the thing I have feared for twenty years: I have become an adult. And no matter how much I drink or how stoned I get or how late I am for work or how often I masturbate instead of leaving for meetings on time I cannot escape this fate. I asked my mother once, if I would have to become an adult because I so desperately did not want to lose my imagination. So here we are; here I am.

Before this descent, I was talking about being diplomatic, and before that about credit by association.

First, this diplomatic thing, this false attempt at fairness, this attempt at public fairness, at being seen to be a fair, rational and good human being whilst manipulating a situation so that it goes as smoothly as possible. I am wildly unfair, probably a bit mad and I don’t believe in words like ‘good’ and I like it rough, so how did I get here? Writing for an online magazine, about other people’s work, studying it and analysing it and holding it up against my own interests and measures of success. I used to love writing about the thing that is/was my thing – performance – in this virtual space; it felt liberating. Now it feels icky. Now I feel shifty, like I should be a politician, or some other twat with two faces and an agenda that puts themselves at the forefront.

bell hooks wrote something about negotiation being the antithesis of competition. I think that it would be great if talking about performance, or my own work, or the work of others, could be understood not as pomposity, criticism, gushing or intellectualisation, not as a wielding or withholding of power, but as part of a constant negotiation of the thing – performance/choreography/dance/life/whatever. It is interesting, this diplomatic, too-slow-to-really-be-angry-about-much me, I notice I am cautious, withholding, so many things I have called out others for being in the past. I am cautious about writing this, thinking that I might post it on BELLYFLOP and that maybe I will get an email from one (or more) of the other editors saying that this is too personal a post for the magazine. To which I would reply that then I would not have been articulate enough. Is there ever a time when social relations do not dictate the conditions of creation in a negative way, in a way that becomes awkward because of the fear that comes from anticipating how other people might react to you? I have been thinking about this a lot too, choreography as the exposure of power structures and social relations above anything else… I’ll try again:

I recently bought a skateboard and I felt like a bit of an idiot in the shop having a 20 year old guy put together my board. He told me he would never be a pro skater, I asked why, he said because he hadn’t started young enough, that when he had started he was old enough to have fear. I think I bought a skateboard because I have the fear again, I have grown afraid of falling over.

Sometimes in conversations, with people in ‘the field’ about ‘work’ I get totally overwhelmed by what I feel to be their anxieties. Sometimes I have to go away because all I get from ‘the field’ is other people’s anxiety: Did you get that thing we all applied for? Are you getting paid for that? Have you read such and such article/blog/tweet? How do you know blahblahblah? Are you taking this workshop? I was at [blank] with [blank] the other day and… Too much of this and I panic and hide in the toilets, or whip out a can or two I have had stashed in my backpack. People outside of the dance world always tell me how self-involved it is and I don’t make work to talk about dance, I don’t write about work to talk about tendus, or anyone’s top-tail connection and my life and my work and my livelihood are surely not dependent on my constantly smiling and waxing lyrical about how great everyone is whilst avoiding saying what I really thought about a show, avoiding proper conversation.

Cue Positions was one of the rare times when for at least two hours I felt as though I was part of a community in a positive sense – not just a group of people in the same place at the same time because we all want to get the limited amount of the same thing up for grabs, this or that opportunity – but as though I was surrounded by people driven by their personal interests into a situation with other people whom they were curious and excited about. It reminded me that this.has.got.to.stop. And that I have to start doing things for the love of it again.