[NetBehaviour] Four Dances: Screen, Bait, Abu Gharayb, Electric

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Feb 24 21:16:34 CET 2006

Four Dances: Screen, Bait, Abu Gharayb, Electric

1. Screen

Projected video with dancers before the image - as if it's a multi-media
performance, dancers 'inserted' into on-screen narrative - but they're out
of sync, they don't match up - the narrative falls apart, it's a mess -
they stumble on-screen as well - it's amateurish, a poor attempt - it's
trying to compete with the big multi-media companies - reaching beyond
what the company can do - the dancers are angry - they're really angry -
they're in front of an audience in a production which is falling apart -
they didn't sign contracts for this - one of them walks off - there's a
gap in what's left of the narrative - this continues until the projection
comes to an end -

The video is poor, hand-held, amateurish, shaky - with some of the same
dancers - they speak a bad pointless dialog - along the lines of

"Where's Dmitri?"
"I don't know. The Revolution is about to begin."
"I love you, Martya." "I love you too Johannes."
"But we can't wait forever."
"No, we can't wait forever. They're looking for us all over the city."
"Are you sure they're looking?"
"No, I'm not sure. But then... I'm not sure of anything anymore..."
"That is why I love you, Martya." [...]

There is some action - anxious walking about the city - nervous, they look
behind them, they're watching - they think they're being watched. And yes,
they dance all of this, on-screen, off-screen. The live dancers may speak,
try to make sense of the dialog; they can't. The live dancers may be the
same as the on-screen characters; it would be best, however, to split the
company - half on, half off, as if they're trying to come together across
an impossible ontology.

Bad film music from the screen, 'programmatic.' The live dancers simply
don't understand.

2. Bait

Either projected video or live - a nude man and woman masturbate stage
left; they are nude, exposed; the dance ends when they cum. They observe
two dancers -

Either dressed or nude - ballet positions, lifts, contacts, splits (facing
audience and masturbating couple) - the dancers sexually aroused - if nude

Masturbating constantly during their movements (the man clearly erect, the
woman with her hand increasingly wet, the audience close enough to smell
the scent of sex) - if at all possible they cum simultaneously with the
masturbating couple.

Swan Lake or some such music.

3. Abu Gharayb

Dancers act out positions of prisoners in Abu Gharayb photographs. Lyndie
England is played by a prima ballerina, her fiancee by the lead male. The
dance should move from position to position. At first it appears opportun-
istic; it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to watch, as if England and
her fiancee were becoming too involved in the violence. Faked blood,
bruising, should be used, as well as leather masks, ropes, etc. .

In other words, a series of iconographic figures. The lead dancers try
their best to behave as beginners - in dance, in torture. The rest of the
company is appears reactive; they're uncomfortable in their roles (often
nude) - broken, scraped. The audience wants more; the audience wants none
of it.

The prisoners are arranged by the lead dancers. They resist weakly at
best. The lead dancers appear simultaneously American and Imperial (i.e.
of any emblematic power). The prisoners appear as Other, signed as Other;
nude, they are the same. The prisoners have nothing. (Perhaps, but only
perhaps, the lead dancers carry Bibles. Or there are Bibles at hand. Or
there is a cross at hand. Or a crown of thorns.)

4. Electric

The dance-floor is covered with wire - grids, meshes, barriers. This acts
as an antenna for VLF (very low frequency) radio. The antenna is fed
through heavy notch filters cutting back on the local (60hz, 50hz) power
grid; it leads to a NASA VLF-3 radio whose output is fed back into the
space vis-a-vis loudspeakers. For one to five dancers. Dancers should be
nude or with little clothing; they interact with each other, with the
wires. Actions include sliding fingers and palms along the wires, wrapping
the body (limbs, neck, penis and breasts if nude, fingers, waist), moving
in and out of contact with other dancers. Performers should try to
maximize sound production as inductance, etc. change. Stage lighting is
sinusoidal, i.e. lights slowly increasing to maximum, then decreasing to
darkness, and back again. At first this appears as 'effect,' but it soon
establishes the rhythm of the dance.

The dancers 'worry about' the wires, about dancing among the wires,
between the wires, on them. This may not have been in the contract. (The
contract might have specified, however, 'any and all.')

The dancers behave as ionizations, lightnings, atmospherics, insects, dead
and live wires, environments. Tech runs a sound-board with effects,
including the possibility of sending the sound through AudioMulch or other
similar programs. The dancers establish and contradict their own rhythms.
The sounds screech and roar.


The dances reference projections, introjections - screens, bodies, poli-
tics, physical fields. Elements from one - for example Bait - may be mixed
with others - for example Electric. Screen and Abu Gharayb are resonant;
Abu Gharayb and Bait are resonant.

The dancers are reeling, on edge, nervous, difficult, a problem, their
desires constrained by spectacle. The dancers are on exhibit, behavioral
codes thwarted or broken. If a dancer feels comfortable, he or she should
push the dance further.

There are many kinds of ecstasy, violence. Ecstasy and violence, beauty,
sexuality, and horror, interpenetrate. For the dancers, everything is at

After the dances, the dancers should be hurried off the stage.


Back-stage, a room of rest, meditation, place of transformation from
politics 'and all the rest' to everyday life. This space is inviolate.
Dancers (perhaps) may use the room during a performance for recuperation.
Perhaps the stage is emptied.

Video is always an emergency. The dancers emerge into (their) (other)

Every piece may end early. A program may consist of one to four pieces.
The specific choreography, if there is such, is created by the head of the
company, in line with the intentions of the dance.

For Abu Gharayb, the lead dancers should be dressed in uniforms identified
with empire and dictatorial power. For Electric, nude dancers may have
lightning bolts drawn on their skin - drawn as children would draw; the
bolts would blur with sweat. For Screen, the dancers (perhaps) should have
specific character costumes; they are 'in character' - their character is
taken away from them (by mismatched blocking, pacing, clumsiness). The
dancers in Bait, if nude and masturbating, should dance perfectly,
(perhaps) facing the audience as much as possible, as if - Look, this is
what I can do in this doubling of art and arousal (as if there is a
difference). As if - I am aroused by the audience (by you) (in the line of
sight). For Abu Gharayb, the dancers form a closed circuit; for Electric,
an open one. For Bait, a circuit in the form of a lasso; for Screen, a
demonstration to the audience, acting-out for the audience.

Finally the length of the performance(s) should be predetermined only as a
maximum, the rest decided by the exigencies of the choreography and the
ability of the dancers to continue performing in these abject or particu-
lated circumstances.


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