the games . august / by james gnam

Written by Rachel Silver
 

Today we experiment with an “Ifolk” dance. Staring at our phones for choreography, we attempt to recreate folk dancing in real time. Overnight Vanessa has modified the film to half speed, which makes copying physically impossible. We decide “what the dance is” is really the dizzy, off-balance, impossible sensation of the task. After several runs I begin to feel like I am dangling on the edge of a cliff, hanging on to my phone and trying not to slip. Nausea is in the air.

When I stand out to watch, I realize there is a certain facial expression that occurs when one dances with a smartphone. The face becomes fixated and strangely absent, as if the mind and body are detached. Dancers kick their feet and step side to side, spinning in silly circles, all the while their heads are lit up by the blue light of our phone screens, decapitated.

Later in the afternoon we spent time with rock band and Just Dance.  As I watch Diego, Jane, Rachel and Hannah play Rock Band, a kind of performative flair takes over their bodies. Four people are gathered around, captivated by a small screen. Their bodies move slightly with inconsistent jerks and sways, but the driving force of the music is coming from the game, rather than from inside the performers.

We finish by “dancing alone together”. After experiencing the games, we improvise with the memory of the movements and sensations from the games. These things are readily available in our bodies and in our consciousness. James tells us this dance necessarily involves “distilling” these moves down to two or three moves or sensations, so that we can fully explore their potential.