Karen
Christopher

can't find the edges of Seven Falls

from the live performance of Seven Falls, May 2017, (the boat in the background is not Harry's)
credit: Vanek Photography

It’s hard to know when the performance starts or when it stops. With some performance there is a very clear start and finish. There might be a long set up time but it is clearly defined and delineated and the start of the performance has a kind of click. When it is over perhaps there is a bit of disassembly required but there is never confusion or blur regarding the far limit of the show margins. But with Seven Falls, partly because it is made so quickly each time it is made, and because its making and its beginning are intermingled with the circumstances of its presentation to a larger degree than your average studio-based performance, it is hard to absolutely identify the moment when the performance of it has taken over and when it has finished passing.

It finally ended after an intermission of about a week when I tried for the second time to return the padlock key for the lock and chain that secure Harry's canoe to his barge. I went to see if he was around as I’d been carrying the key in my wallet since I returned the canoe that day after the show ceased to be an organised event in front of an assembled audience. He'd been so generous to let us use his canoe in performance, loanin git to me without having ever met me before I presented myself in front of his boat with the request of it. Now I wanted to be sure to be diligent about every aspect of the return of it to its rightful owner. I’d sent him a text enquiring about how to return the padlock key. I was hoping it was a spare—but I didn’t know that for sure. I never got an answer. After about a week I went to see him at his boat in person. When I got to where the barge had been moored it was gone.

Later that day as I rode a bike over a bridge in a different part of the canal system as I glanced to the right I glimpsed a familiar distinctive paint job. I went down to the tow path and texted from outside the boat. A message came back from Harry: Just leave the key somewhere inside the boat. With that I opened the door to his boat home and placed the key on the counter feeling part of a magical world free from worry. And as I left it there the notion hit me that now the show was finally over and that I had been the last audience member as well as the last performer to leave the stage. Some parts of the work are very very private.

Tags: Teresa Brayshaw, Seven Falls, duet, Chisenhale Dance Space, canoe, TwoFold

Posted on Saturday, 3 June 2017 by Karen Christopher

TwoFold: How to keep our friends from drowning

4 short descriptions of How to keep our friends from drowning (Eirini Kartsaki & Joe Kelleher)
photo credit: Christa Holka

1.
Something is broken, the simultaneity is infuriating, each motion, each stutter intelligence and swindle—a martini or just water and olives. A hiccough might contain at one and the same time pathos, humour, mundanity and drama—the everyday trauma of human capacity—the beauty in a smudge and the glamour of a neck brace. This is how we got here and always with the tantalising question before us: how did they injure themselves in this way?

2.
They are not broken, they are inflicted on us, they will not stop until they get it right: the explanation of how they came through the infuriating noise to settle down before us.

3.
How to keep our friends from drowning takes a furious run at accelerating speeds, whiplash proof via prophylactic neck braces, wheels spin in position and we know there will be injury, the only question is how much saliva will be spent in the service of it.

4.
It is desperate, it is vociferous, it is packed with an urgency I cannot explicate, their safety measures have made me suspicious, it is an extraordinary rendition, I am all ears.

(because they asked for it)

Tags: duet, Chisenhale Dance Space, Eirini Kartsaki, Joe Kelleher, TwoFold

Posted on Thursday, 27 April 2017 by Karen Christopher

Untangling in front of you

After performing our new duet miles & miles at Chisenhale Dance Space in July I became transfixed by a coule of questions: How did we untangle in front of you? How could we trust it was something to watch? Isn't untangling  knot something about which you say "I can't do this if I'm watched"? The untangling of a rope or string or other line or set of lines can be one of the most panic inducing dilemmas there are. Why would I want to play it out in real uncontrollable time in front of an audience.

The untangling is an unquestionable by-product of the forces and concerns we are laying out in miles & miles. Something about the attempt at linearity or organisation of a sense of life and its actual uncontrolability is at the heart of our performance work.

To reorganise a stream of consciousness unleashed into the world merely by being alive is almost an impossible task.

Undoing a knot is the kind of thing that might produce the declaration (even to friendly onlookers): I can't do this in front of you.

The pressure of another's gaze is unsettling to the mind of the untangler. Furthermore, what might be streamlined for one person to sort out becomes precarious with two as each sees the knot or tangle from a different point of view. The binocular aspect is just enough to tip the apple cart. But as we do work in tandem we must exercise the capacity to refrain from turning on each other like over-heated rats in a crowded cage. And this is how we kept our nerve, by knowing there is a future to survive together.


. . . this will eventually be completed as an essay including (but not limited to) the following sections: the whole body through the loop, the performance of confidence & optimism, the technical terms we feigned to make it seem we were in control, and the vicarious thrill of our ultimate victory.

Photo: Manu Valcarce Photography 2016

Tags: miles & miles, duet, Chisenhale Dance Space

Posted on Sunday, 7 August 2016 by Karen Christopher

finding the end

this is an excerpt from writing done during our Roehampton DTP residency to finish work on the performance duet miles & miles (this past January)—and we still aren’t really finished—the next deadline is coming up and is backed up by an imminent performance (7th & 8th July 2016, Chisenhale Dance Space)

A resolve has settled in, both a kind of clarity about what has to be done today and a realisation of the limitations a day includes, here, with us, in this room. We are finishing. We are finishing finishing. There’s a special setting on my brain for when the end is near. Maybe there’s more than one option for this setting. Maybe one of them is a kind of panic which produces wild-eyed blindness. Another is a wistful acknowledgement of the limits we face. We have only come this far thus far and the likelihood that we can see the edge is becoming more and more real. It is possible that the unknown possibilities—including dizzying brilliance as well as dim disappointment—are blinking out like spent candles. It is in this moment that we, giggling, came upon a plan to tell ourselves everything was still possible. But how do you fool yourselves when even imagination feels bounded by reality, even if that reality is one manufactured by yourselves?

Let us say we have determined that our show is using a central metaphor or analogy or visual image, surely the possible endings must come in line with the trajectory that springs from this central post, this guiding principle . . . or maybe anything is possible.

Tags: University of Roehampton, DTP, Sophie Grodin, residency, miles & miles, duet, Chisenhale Dance Space

Posted on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 by Karen Christopher

the ebb and the flow of the way it goes in these final days

Leading up to our premiere (Control Signal, preview 3rd October in Bristol at Wickham Theatre, University of Bristol and then premiere 10th & 11th October at Chelsea Theatre in London) we are taking it fine, smooth, and with raggedy edges that scratch what itches and itch what doesn’t. It is easy and isn’t easy. It is fast and slow at the same time it is trying to hold a polyrhythm in your head. I hear that we are finishing. I hear it every morning. I hear it before I go to sleep at night. We are fact finishing but we are not screaming into the finish line, we are stepping. The steps high and irregular early in the past week. We stumbled at a few steps which were just ever so slightly misjudged. Forgot this, didn’t enjoy that. It was better the second day. And we tap-danced into the third day which felt like a dream dotted with laugh. So it goes in fits and starts. Adjustments to new versions. Long discussions about the pause or not the pause and this table is not going to work no it won’t well if it has to no, actually, not even then.

I’m certain it will feel like a free-fall when we finally crack the ice on this one but we will be ready and not forget to pull our rip cords and remember to look around us on the way to the ground. I think we are lined up to enjoy it.

Tags: Control Signal, duet, Sophie Grodin, Chisenhale Dance Space, Chelsea Theatre, Wickham Theatre, University of Bristol

Posted on Saturday, 21 September 2013 by Karen Christopher

Chisenhale week in which we remember that real life continues even now

The crime that we didn’t commit, that we committed not to commit, is to stop living while we make this piece, even in the final phase in which push is coming to shove. If we are squeezed between a rock and a hard deadline it think we’d just as well get comfortable. If it is close, we’ll just cuddle that cut-off.

Working at Chisenhale was great. We were in the main space so we had depth of space and beautiful sunlight coming in through the windows. We also had jackhammers. It was time to replace that old cement with bricks outside in front of the building across the street. This was our sound track while we worked with Boris Hauf who created some excellent sound for the piece. Litó Walkey worked with us as an outside eye and helped corral our thoughts and aspirations into a more minimal package. She helped clarify the images we were working toward.

It all happened as we hoped: some time for showing the guests artists what we were doing (had been doing or thought we were doing or hoped to be doing), some time for them to explore the city and think about us working without them in the studio, some time for us to work without them, some time for them to come back and say we missed you yesterday and thought about you as we wandered the city, more time to work, some time to have a meal together. I didn’t sleep enough but otherwise, it was great. The piece has been combed and parted, we got the extra bits out. Now we just have to do better what we’ve got left. We’ll work it and run it 6 times before we go to Bristol and then it will be complete.

Tags: Chisenhale Dance Space, Control Signal, duet, Litó Walkey, Sophie Grodin, Boris Hauf

Posted on Saturday, 14 September 2013 by Karen Christopher