Stephanie Cumming photo by Micheal Reinhart

I can give you this much pure data; 7 countries, 14 cities, 48 participating artists, 105 performances, 70 journal entries and 2,144 photographs. Rewriting Distance in a nutshell.

Quote from writing during one of the performances … “truth is forbidden, facts are okay.” Stephanie

There were five performances at Mile Zero Dance and together we were five. Gerry Morita, Stephanie Cumming, Piet Defraeye, Guy Cools and myself. Six with Michael who came and took photos, and 7 if you count the room … and we always count the room.

Each performance is an improvisation with a simple score. There is a performer, a witness and an audience position. Always with the witness moving into the performance and all the other positions shifting in relation to this change. It’s a revolving door through the witness position.  What am I talking about? Are you confused yet? What’s a witness? What’s a performer? What’s an audience?

Another quote: “a chandelier …

                                    (light is so many things)

            a language,

            a weight … suspending stories into air

            from the ground.” Lin

Lin Snelling and Gerry Morita, photo by Micheal Reinhart

We don’t know the answers to any of these questions, definitively. We know we are seven. We know we can write on the walls of the studio, as well as on the paper in the room. We know we use only what we find in the studio and the surrounding neighbourhood to tell the stories to each other.  We can be stupid, smart, glorious and banal. We know we are telling each other fragments of truth and lies; and we are mixing things together. We like to do this. Our stories have middles and beginnings, and endings come and go … like a tide capturing and releasing a gentle line on sand; we see and hear them disappear and re-appear. This is somehow satisfying; we forget why.

Another quote: “Is the history of wood still traceable?” Piet

Guy and I have been performing Rewriting Distance with guest artists since 2011; but it is never the same. It keeps deconstructing itself. I am continually surprised at my lack of control in the whole matter. I am frustrated, elated and disturbed by how we travel through it. It’s a land onto itself. We trespass in it. This land appears in studios; offering freedom to each participant to tell a story; any story they want. To listen to others, to write, draw, scream, sing, sound; speak or lie, sit, stand, change position, even dance. Rewriting Distance is the strata of situations passed through, with bodies bearing witness to the elusive through-line.

Piet Defraeye, Guy Cools, Stephanie Cumming, photo by Micheal Reinhart

Piet Defraeye and Gerry Morita, photo by Micheal Reinhart

At Mile Zero Dance, Gerry, Stephanie and I sing a song from out of nowhere; specific from beginning to end. I will remember it. Not the specifics; but the way it came from nowhere and was complete. Guy and Piet dance with the intimacy of shared and divergent naked ancestry; dressing and undressing theory and practice.  Guy and Stephanie together in this land for the first time develop some spectacular lifting techniques. Gerry sings a song at the piano. I have never heard Gerry sing like this. Piet and I sing an opera devoted to body ablutions. Stephanie builds a cabin from all the debris feeling a need to clear the space. This finishes our performance and is a place to start the next one. “History sticks to your feet” says Piet.I write this down.

The audience. Who is the audience? The performer, the witness … what does this mean? We assume nothing, except a belief in what will come when we step together into this land. If we listen and most especially hear and shape these sightings, soundings and marks on the wall, we might discover the story. This might even be ‘language’. I hear it as music, filled with vibration and rhythm … something that oscillates through all of us.

It curves the room and tallies the numbers. It’s a present history towards an on-going story. Thank you, Mile Zero Dance, the McCauley neighbourhood and everyone who participated.

Stephanie Cumming and Guy Cools, photo by Micheal Reinhart

Drawing/writing from performance book, Lin

From writing after the performance …

“The wall becomes a living document of the past, but the audience sees something new.” Gerry

Written by Lin Snelling

Lin Snelling’s performance, writing and teaching is based on the qualities improvisation can offer as it applies to dance, theatre, visual arts and somatic practice.