This is not a letter but my arms around you for a brief moment
Choreographed by Nico Brown
Performed by Nico Brown and Amanda Kmett'Pendry
Music by Niall Jones
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out (Becket, MA)
August 27, 2016
La MaMa Experimental Theater (New York, NY)
May 21-22, 2016
This work represents a huge departure for me as I brought another dancer into the work, largely in an attempt to find methods for further complicating choreographic structure beyond the capacity of the solo.
I started by creating two very long phrases, which were referred to as the Basic Phrases. Using these as an outline, we used moments from the Basic Phrases to further expand and generate larger sections of material, often returning to original places in the phrases and proceeding accordingly.. In this way, the phrases bacame a roadmap for a larger word to deviate, return to, loop around, and speed through.
These phrases also became references for a certain type of physicality that governs the dancing. Moving away from much of the balletic terrain that had previously dominated my work, I became interested in a curved spine, falling off center and generating momentum through distal limbs. Ideas of release technique permeated through my interest in strong, rigorous dancing that maintains the forceful, brute aggression of my previous solos.
The title of the work came to me in a bookshop. In a rummage pile of textbooks, one book had been ripped in half. Facing up, the only words on the page, was the line "This is not a letter but my arms rounds around you for a brief moment." The poem is from a love letter written by Katherine, a New Zealand poet. It's origins are not significant, but I like the idea of something's form (a letter) being a placeholder for a feeling (my arms around you for a brief moment).
In hindsight, I find This is not a letter... to be problematic in the rest of my work. I realize that a lot of the meaning of my work resides in my dancing body--a white, gay, male body, often dancing alone and in silence. The decision to bring another person, a woman, into the work, departed from this and I'm not sure if the result was as successful as previous works. Inasmuch as I strive to look at dance as a practice of formal composition, I neglected a significant aspect of my choreographies: my body as a maker of meaning in and of itself.