the cozy cottage . august / by james gnam

Written by Rachel Silver

 

It’s Wednesday, and I’m fighting fatigue. This residency feels like a marathon, but every day we are back at it, making new stuff and making old stuff better.

We start with our warm-up, which turns into the group dance known as the “cozy cottage”. This lasts for quite some time, and when it finally finishes, there is a sense of peaceful exploration about us. James observes that there is a dilating and expanding focus in this dance: we start internally, but once the duet has established itself, it can break out into the space and expand, interacting with other duets. He explains, “at the moment where the fault lines blend, it opens up”.

Again, we acknowledge that the cozy cottage dance is very human and intimate. The most powerful moment is simply seeing and being seen, before we start really moving. Once you establish that narrow focus with your partner, it feels safe. James says the gaze really characterizes the dance. He stresses that this dance needs to live in our imagination, rather than our nervous system like the fast-twitch basketball dance.

We talk about finding the dance that is already there between you and your partner. This is similar to what Michelangelo said about sculpting, that every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. In the cozy cottage, the dance between you and your partner already exists, filled with your decisions and interests. You just need to tease it out.

For a while we work on another dance called “dancing alone together”. This is an improvised dance that uses memory of the games as a stimulus to create material. It is tiring, and my memory doesn’t always cooperate. But it is brilliant the way the mind brings back movement: never chronological, always surprising.

We stumble upon a new section this afternoon in the most serendipitous way. Six of us begin playing Just Dance to get some more information in our bodies to be available for improvisation. Gathered around on the platform and the floor, we throw ourselves into a silly chick hip-hop dance. But across the room, I suddenly see that James and Natalie are watching. One look at James’ face, I knew immediately what he was thinking: that “this is a thing” and will need to be in the show.