Fluctuation-Driven Flocking Movement in Three Dimensions and Scale-Free Correlation.


Fluctuation-Driven Flocking Movement in Three Dimensions and Scale-Free Correlation.

(when starlings flock together, dancing through the sky- we call it a murmuration.)

I have found that a full life is contained in every performance of Trisha Brown’s pieces… An entire existence in a drop. A society in history, in a single motion. A century’s worth of time in one dance.
A murmuration blow by the evening wind.

Here is on emerging within those moments.



Once the architect told me as she traced, about time. The lines she drew into the papers were the tip of points in a room full of mirrors. She told me that when you want to know, 


Under the arc, where silently they surround you: 

Go and look for time- straight in the eye. 


                        their heads floating in dust and the bright

white stone. 


I knew that place. I had watched my refracted body in those mirrors, loose limbs- 

I had laid on the floor and turned in a circle while time looped around me – and until

everything collapsed 


into a single plane. She picked up the sheet and looked at it for a long while, I stared into the glass, in the center, as my chest heaved. Sometimes at night. 


I stare ahead. Waiting, stretching my ear until I hear it, time ticking down time, trickling down- slowly and softly.  

The cold, the hard wood, the street noises. Humming, screaming tears into me. React. React. react. react. react. only react. always react.

When. will time let me go. When will

time let me be, the evening wind in Newark. 

          The evening wind that moves murmurations



twisting and swirling 




but time                                     management 

                   behind my back,

                                                                                 is what moves me forward 

                  to be in movement.                                                                                time is moving/movement?

when will time no longer be the mover that moves me. if movement could be anywhere 

else than in time,                                                                                                                     

                        what is time? 

where is time. 


She shook her head, lips pursed. Late, to be late, lateness, delay, belated, tardiness, slow, behind, too late.  Gone. Blown. Fluttered. 

Digression. While I follow this feeling, feel I follow. This crease in the wrist. Wait for me, while I follow this crease, down into the earth, flowing through currents… wait for me while I wander here. Blown. Fluttered and delayed 

 by the evening wind that moves murmurations


A thin glass and below, heads and limbs walking down the streets, here nothing. Thousands of miles away. Intertext. Look into time as a material, a quality. Is time slow, is time fast, is time palpable, is time read in the sky or on your wrist with a tic and a tac. Time as the reminder: I hadn’t grown in her limbs and she hadn’t shaped my mind. And how I hadn’t stretched on the wooden floor of her New York apartment. Summer breeze, waxed woods, streets noises.  time paused? I longed for it, I arched my back for it, I wrote in a book for it, I stayed up at night for it, I went to her and fell on the floor always looking for it. I cried because I didn’t know where her evening wind comes from, the one that blows my arms in circles, when, it is, time, for Newark. 

The one that moves murmurations.


When I saw you I wanted to tell you, I have walked that path. My stare was a cold wind blowing. A wind so dreadful it dries all life, a sweeping gaze that fixes and solidifies. I wanted to collapse history without giving you the time, the time to walk in my steps. I wanted to show you and guide you. I wanted to tell you how it must be done. To take you by the hand and count, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1, 2, 3, 4 and trace my legs along with yours on 2, on 4 place your hands. I wanted to save you. To put you in a bed of cotton, where you couldn’t throw yourself onto the ground, break your bones, break your smile, break your breath, break the rhythm, break the pace. And leave time shattered, heaving in the architect’s laugh and a room full of mirrors. 


At its heart someone is staring right back at me. They are all, bystanders, watchers, dancers. We were in a glass dome. And where was time? But yet again that might be because we were staring at the blazing sun, and I am standing between the two of you. 


In April time, murmurations moved like a sunset, like hips rocking from side to side and feet dragging.  A sun that is stuck somewhere. The moment when a cloud drift by the midday heat. I won’t know, at what time the sun set that day. But I know when it set. I watched as they came and went, as they stood there in the same mark, not knowing that it had all started and ended a million times before them. I watched as trumpets rose to the sky and hips twitched. And the same old wind blew from their limbs to mine. It was like dominos, collapsing into each other until there was no more perspective and everything stood together, flat and exhausted by the endless repetition. I had never been there. 


It was so different to anything I know, but everything for which I had longed. Everything was light and heavy -altogether heaving. 

But we continued to watch ahead. Where museums are glass domes for time to come and die, pushed up against a wall. Relentlessly urged by that same motion in the painter’s hand, move by the same evening wind? the one that moves murmurations. Between soaking in all fleshly things and hitting against the end of history. The paint still seeps through the cloth, moving further, further gorging the clean white. 

But that time we did not see. 


Because we repeat day after day. We rehearse second after second, the grand choreography of which we were told, you can be the creator.

The architect lead me through the Dome

and Time out in the cold, blew on our faces as a huge sweeping force 

so dreadful it dried up all life,   

froze and ossified, summed up. 

leaving two little children and the names we give them.. 

Chasing the evening wind away and

 dispersing murmurations. 

Everything is collapsed. When I talk about you, when I talk about her, when I talk about him. Every step has been covered, and what will come has already been decided. I listened for time as it made its way, in its own time, in its own way. 


But past labels she brought me, 


        and showed me the hidden life of all things that succumb/ 

not to time. 







twisting and swirling 




     I saw the ink that silently continues

        to make its way, flowing 

   into the wood, fusing, shimmering, in and

         out,  spreading and curling.

             never ending always 

moving even when                                                     time lied.




The evening wind that is not slow but

heavy. The one that drags its feet and rolls on its side, inhaling at dusk.

Was rising from my soles.   When the trumpets rose.

Was rising in the Dome.   When our hips swayed  . 


Waiting for the time without realizing that all the while                   millions of birds

drenched    through     my    skin    through    my   blood   through   every    breath    of    air



    our time is hard and regular, it is dry and efficient. 

 and the name rolled in my tongue over and over.    

                                                         You live in time said Kant.        

                                               I spit right back at him. 

                                                                   Time is the basic quality of existence and how

        we exist in time is fundamental to

        understanding further existential reflections     

                                               I spit right back at him.


I left my old frame and emerged into a dome filled with mirrors    -where nothing comes to an end except time

pushed up against the window.


Free falling where there is no gravity, in the Dome where time comes to die and marble eyes revolve in circles, in thin air. That intangible moment of light stillness and intensity all at the same time.  It is the hours when the sun prepares to set. We left our valuables in the changing rooms.  I won’t know at what time the light turned that day. But I know when. It fell when the girl finally slipped her eyes shut beneath the wave. When hips twitched and feet dragged on marble. When the man held his hand out. When I lay on my side. When the mother threw her scarf back over her shoulder and when the lustful teenager turned the corn on the cob, sold it for a penny. When I was pushed up against the edge, where history ends and below, heads and limbs were walking down the streets, here nothing.  At last, thousands of miles away with the murmuration- I am blown in the evening wind. 


what  is timeless?

where time is not. 


Time, when everything collapses into a single plane. The death of perspective comes with every desperation, and it all ends the same way. Pushed up against the wall. Blood drops trickling down with paint, smothered across the canvas. 


And yet here, where time and I came to die, it is where I met the architect and her evening wind.                                                      At last I am moved by the evening wind that moves


Where all the while, pigments continued to move through the fibers. Slowly crawling, where History is blind and men are forgetters. Infinitely seeping, expanding, twisting, growing, coiling and intertwining, becoming.  


Hourglass time runs smoothly over and over again. It is that time of the day again, the horizon is sleeping with the sun today,                                                                        or is it dawn?

Everything could be white. You’re hovering in the dome of light where history is being made and time presses its limbs upon the glass, 

-let me in, it whispers.



replied the murmuration









the ironsmith


<In response to YDT’s work with Trisha Brown’s choreography, the following impressions dance with NEWARK and EARLY WORKS

There is a highway that races through my house. It broke through my door and cut my table in two. I watched as plastic bags entwined in my hair. And the truck lights glared with such speed, they dry the tears. My lips are still sweet. 
The underpass goes under my bed, where I will never walk.  I know that the lady with a crooked eye is waiting on the other side. The red light hangs above my mirror and they say it was a vote. The Plymouth pushed the chair against the tub. There is a highway that divides the city in which I live. Small letters that once spelt Urban Planning, oozing rust over the ravine in our backyards. 
In the middle of my town, there is a green. Sometimes the old man walks around it and on other days he will cross it. But just where the aisles run. He might stop at the intersection of its forking paths. There is no mud on his shoes nor are there footprints in the cement. 
There are gates to lock us in and keep you out. Every morning when the bells ring thrice I will cross five streets, and I then I will take the diagonal across the central green. I won’t walk on the grass and I might stop at the intersection but I will never take the underpass because I cannot stand to see her eyes. 
I cannot write straight but I can follow the grades on this paper. “A corporation is a legal entity that has been incorporated either directly through legislation, established by law.” There are circles through which to leap and diagonals to cross. I was married in front of a firetruck’s historic memorial the day I received your green card. And codes to follow. Triangles that remind me how you are my brother and red papers that give me a name. There are frames and levels. They said I would have a window instead of bars, and they taught me about disciplines and and citizenship. Lines, liabilities, employees and neighbours. Incorporated entities and shareholders. Highways that divide, and freedoms. And ink slowly throbbed in the cotton as the judge cleared his throat. The ruler cut into the map as they drew a line, and so were nation states. There is an engine that runs and I do not know if it is the oil or your faith that keeps it turning. Millions call themselves my sons and daughters. I will smile and sue you. A rolled social contract, I lit it and suck until the devil adjust his  speed. I listened with intensity but a drop pearls drown my thigh. I am a mother, I am a home, an enemy and an ally.  Water ran, unstoppable and determined; the mother slept and the fighter died.   Every river flows and all children grow. Good citizens obey the law and grandfathers will pass. The sky is blue and I will pay my rent this month.  The waters will rise but there will be nothing but a big hole. I turned and coiled as the threads struck to my limbs. A beast was turning spinning me into the web. We’ll wear corrective lenses. 
But if you cut a thread and then it all falls apart. Then I’ll see the  light: just when a million particles dance in the glaze. 
There are invisible monsters that creep in the hallways of your logic. And they will keep you walking straight where shadows never catch up. I know because Nietzsche told me, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” There are no powers in balance. If I reach the levee before counting to three then I might see them cede.  Under these bricks there is nothing to follow, billions of sand crusts that could never stand still for you to sum. Lights in a street and men walking one after another. Stopping at the red light, nodding. Disappearing into splashes of hand writings in a constitution. The henna on my hands are the patterns of dried leaves and city maps.  A gigantic movie-set in which everything converges to feed your eyes. I dream I am a stage designer, so all I could do is draw what I know and never what I see. I would try to build a house where no matter is out of place, where no dust dances in the sunlight. Because that is what you taught me when you defined the division of labour and Plato’s forms. Sometimes I will draw on my window, and pretend that trees have baubles and globalization is a tangible interdependence of economic and cultural activities. There is no self-determination. There is the allegiance that buckles my knees and ties my hands, a cry that I cannot plea. I have heard of deathbed confessions. And that there is a cycle in which eternal darkness is the logical consequence of a life’s meanderings. Miss Bathsheba, she told me as I blew on my last match: “any day now the fabric of the universe is coming unraveled. The entire universe will get busted, cause everything depends on fitting together just right.” I will be at the heart of the storm.
The ceiling will cave. Our percentages and ratios will implode and there, between the moment when the tide emerges and when it will submerge,  it will be as if I were staring up at the nights canopy of stars, as a collapsing canvas. Or maybe it is I who will fall upward into the sky. We leaned in and a soft drop of the heart, a break in the knee dislodged the globe. It rolled slowly and crushed through thorns as I watched it sway, like a pendulum rocking and slipping between the mockery and solemnity of a judge’s sentence. 
It is a steel globe that our eyes perforated with a million bullets, flying out from my pores and hitting its surface like shattered mirrors, thrown across the stage. My arms stretch slowly around the surface. From the tips of my left hand to those of my right hand. I am grasping the edge of the frame and wrenching at the strings around my pulse. My arms are sore. Drunken and sprawled on the surface of a steel orb, the shards are coming at my outspread limbs. Peering through a thousand holes. The cloth is so damaged I am surprised it does not crumble, as those old elastic bands that collapse around the waist.  
Only then, when form is performed and deformed – through a million fractures will whim leak and reform. Until thy fall though, I will reach far out with my left hand and far right with the other.  
As I stand there embracing the steel globe, the fabric stretches across my chest and form a tense bow around the surface. It’s waiting to be released for the form to be destroyed. I will try to stop and maintain the position, to keep my arms froms snapping back together and around my ribs. But the steel and the joker gave me his “wild card”. This steel globe that I must embrace scattered sunspots into my eyes, now all I can think is that anytime soon the fabric of the world will come unraveled. 
The Furies threw powders of crushed glass into my eyes and took my hips at the crease, pulled me closer. I held my breath and my chest became heavier so that under an excess of weight the ball sighed and fell out of its socket. I pressed on to see the world drop. The foil drifted through space as if it where gliding on slick tarball. In harmonious universes, rotations and shifts never coincide: There are a million freckles on her chin, but your lashes must beat against her skin. I keep watching pressing my eye against the coated surface, through the short-circuit’s peephole: there sunspots, freckles and world systems turn to crackling embers that surge and recede as a million beating hearts. The ground is gone caused to sway and there, on the tip of a wrist dipping towards the soil as if preparing to dive; there, a metal maker makes universes out of steel sheets. From the blacksmith’s tuyère a saturated drop of weld metal runs into a globe.
The blacksmiths arm is strong but the crease in his wrist is gentle. He lets the warm steel flow into a glowing droplet. My steel globe is bloated, swollen with weight and contained matter. From underneath I watched. As the forger’s wrist breaks and swirls, the metal floods through the pipe and into his treasure’s gorge. An expanding bubble that distends and adapts as a magnifying glass: similar to that ominous drop that precedes the deluge. Waiting and resting as augurs do: defying. Just before the ceiling caved I saw a distorted and grimacing world reflected in my blacksmith’s bulb of smoulders and matter. It fell into my arms just before my cheek slides on sweat and dirt. 
I fell. I think the world was too heavy or maybe I was imbalanced, did I throw it or cut the thread on which it was dangling. But it is rolling now, and I could not tell you for sure if I stayed here with my weight still sinking into the ground, or if I am spinning out across the studio as a twister. With only a center and no shape, both the hurricane and its eye in which all is still and gently hovering amidst the commotion. The tear will pour, then it will collapse and shatter into a million steel drops. In an explosion there will always by an intrinsic random variable. A million fragments refract each other, but if only I had known to look from one into the other, layers of systems over anarchy until there is no matter in place and all is out of  line.
And I could not tell if the drop would splurge over my upturned face, or if it was I who leaped and dipped inside in the same way colliding sheets of steel collapse into a single reflection. Then shall the universe implode.  
I no longer need to think about anything, not even about the suspended particles that dance in the cyclone’s eye. I will climax where the storm tears my limbs apart and there at its center I can finally float -regurgitated from the archimedean balcony and spurted into the writhing pits of chaos. Flowers curl; they do not wilt, but curl. 

kathaa kahe so kathak


kathaa kahe so kathak 


thath thirathaka dhuna dhuna dhuna dhuna nakithada thakita thakita tirathaka thakita thakita tirathaka dhum dhum dhum dhum takithatakitha tharenda kira tharenda thakita tharenda thakita tharenda thakita tharenda that kiradé kiradé kiradé kiradé djidjikitha djidjikitha djidjikitha théh thram djidjikitha djidjikitha djidjikitha théh thram djidjikitha djidjikitha djidjikitha dhum

When the world is wild, here at its center I remain. We perform the Kathak Chakkars. Do you feel the Earth turn. The Universe in rotation. Head catches my breath just as I am about to loose it. A spring that releases. The heart of the cyclone they say. Oh, the wave at storm! -yet beneath its surface an unspoken silence awaits: the one within Thomas Hood’s poem. The one you can never hear and only know. 

Thomas Hood

648. Silence

“There is a silence where hath been no sound,

There is a silence where no sound may be,

  In the cold grave—under the deep, deep sea,

 Or in wide desert where no life is found,

 Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;


There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.”

At the heart of Akram Khan’s choreography, his dancers and his art; and from this deepest search initiated by Reggie Wilson, I met an inner-world, patient and dormant.  At a time when I nearly dropped my arms and left, left loud lectures and sleepless nights… a semester off to find myself. To rekindle with my fire that was slowly dying, asphyxiated by the empty wind of society’s useless agitation. Just when I thought I was treading on surfaces, I found the entrance. The entrance to my inner-world, the sort of ocean in which I have always longed to drown. Was it dormant, or rather entrapped? 

One slow inspiration fills my breast. And in a gasp, a shudder and the cry of a chalk falling to the ground, as it slices through the pounding stillness of the air./What if Vertical Road’s stone soldiers dusting away their sleep… were nothing more but the lakes of our consciousness stirred to waves, at last crashing against the rational frivolity of our schedules, freed and surging through my senses in currents?

In my mind these surging currents can only be Federico Garcia Lorca’s Duende. 

I remember seeing Vertical Road in Marseille, a few years back. I shuddered when the lights died. And mourned as coats shuffled and voices rose. After that I cried for a few hours and wrote a lot, I could have wept. When the dancers left the stage and the lights died, something at my core died too. Something that had been building up , and up, up along that Veritcal Road until it was just suddenly, as a thin thread cut sharp, shtak, released. I fell into my seat, but something else remained hovering above me, undisturbed it stayed, continued its journey upwards. That night I left behind a little dust, it died with the dance and there it stayed, beyond time. And sometimes I can picture it to myself: in the empty theater, above the square platform, floating with the other particles that had been brushed into thin air. Suspended. And so there is this force that charges through Akram khan’s movement; a force so inebriating that it was stirred within me, just by watching it develop. The Duende. 

“The Duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. The Duende is not in the throat, it surges up inside, from the soles of the feet. The mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained, the spirit of the earth.  Arrival of the Duende presupposes a radical change to all the old kind of form… generating an almost religious enthusiasm, the Duende that shakes the body of the dancer, a real poetic escape from this world.The duende works on a dancer’s body like wind on sand.” (Garcia Lorca 1933)

For some time now I have tried to understand, what it is that gives this work so much Duende. Here I have dispersed some thoughts…

-At the end of our representation the audience wanted to know about the presence of Martial arts within these dances. Often I too was tempted to see certain movements as directly inspired from T’ai chi ch’uan.  And yet our two professors shook their heads: influenced maybe, but not incorporated. 

There must be a link between the two, but then it is not so specific and straightforward: 

Indeed, I quickly came to find that Akram Khan’s work requires a serenity of the soul, an intense connection of the body and mind: Peace; one drop that lies at the crest of a floating petal. 

Our work revolved around the control of breath, of our center, and an intimate understanding of time and space. The choreography is so complex and intricate, so fast that if your mind moves at the same pace, it is hardly possible to comprehend and execute. The dancer must grasp the quality: melting into water to understand the ways in which it flows, or vice versa, understanding flow to embody water.

As Zeno’s paradox: thinking of time as a sandglass, sand grain after sand grain (to pursue the sand/dust and dance analogy). And conceiving of space as quicksand, compact particles, into which you carve your fingers and press against the structure, moving through space and time as if you could touch them:

“… that the flying arrow is at rest, which result follows from the assumption that time is composed of moments … . he says that if everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always in a now, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.” (Aristotle Physics, 239b.30)

I believe the answer lies at the heart of the Chakkar spins.  

Akram Khan’s work encapsulates an entire universe, this parallel paradigm that hides within, the vertical at the heart of the cyclone, the vertical at the heart of the Chakkars. The vertical on which all things rotate? Our vertical. Akram Khan’s vertical, as he swirls.

 In Buddhism, Yoga, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, meditation… all perform -the point to which returns the eye, turn after turn, as the head effortlessly engages the spin -within this state of the mind that requires a single-pointed concentration. Timeless and spaceless. 

The Infinite balancing over the fine line of human cognition: an ontological argument?

This Duende. This force.

As I swirl: I keep what Lali once said about rhythms. We were practicing our footwork to the rhythms (which I transcribed in the opening). Somehow we could not maintain the set pace and our speed would systematically accelerate. Lali told us how that was the nature of rhythms, they will always pick up, men have a tendency to let themselves be carried away by the rhythm, is what she said. The way she phrased it was particular since it implied that the rhythm was the main actor in this process. The man sets the pace, but ultimately the rhythm will take over, carrying away the dancer in its wake. And so, in agency and form I always wonder which comes first. 

Names for one part, and language for another: music. 

For instance, I was once told that my name suited me, we often say this “I couldn’t imagine you with another name!” My next question is if the name suits me or if I suit the name? In which order do these things work. Do I fit the name? Has endlessly affirming  “My name is Indrani, I am Indrani” shaped my character, perception and feel. Have the soft vowels, harsh consonants repeated my whole life seeped into my character? I believe in the phenomenology of things. I believe in how every smallest detail of an object feeds into its “being”. Each chosen material, and from the humidity of the air to the poem muttered under our breath: every process has a final word in the craft. 

Last Summer in Singapore Akram Khan told a masterclass, of which I was lucky to be a part, about thinking in terms of music and rhythms as a quality.  We worked on Kathak basics and he taught us about the dance’s rigor and its rhythmic counts. We learned a story, which became a melody, and then a rhythm… a footwork, a dance.

And so in this same order of things: recalling a dance through numbers is quite different from being reminded with a rhythm, with a melody, with a story. The intention is absolutely everything and can change the whole quality of a movement. 

Kathak comes from the Sanskrit Katha:story. Katthaka is the storyteller.

This Force again, this force that runs through the story, is the same force that will run through the rhythm and into the movement. And it is a force that burns from within, a narrative, the same tale that has sent the blood rushing through our veins.

The Duende is the destruction of preestablished order. Akram Khan’s Art, and I am here reminded too of Reggie Wilson’s work, is a reestablishment of the self. It is rejection of time and space and all the knowledge with which we have been infused for so long. (It is a remastered version of the Matrix (mind my humorous propaganda))! 

Discovering this space of pure creation was for me such a revolution, because for the first time I exited the “thinking paradigm” /the paradigm of structure and knowledge and all that information as layers of clothes in water, pulling me down/ and instead entered the “feeling paradigm,” as a matter of fact, Kathak’s related form Abhinaya, which is bhaav bataanaa (lit. ‘to show bhaav or ‘feeling’). The Paradigm of a-structurality and imminence.  One journey inwards.

During the 16th century, Moghul domination in India tainted traditional Kathak with Persian imports. A slim parallel can be drawn between Kathak’s Chakkars and The Sema swirls.  The Sema may be an anthropomorphic god for some, a spiritual concept for other. But, for example understanding the Sema (Swhirling Dervishes) is another manifestation of the Duende within this art: 

The Sema, a “physically active meditation” is the “remembrance of God. When the dervishes turn, they are focusing their attention on their inner centre and they turn around and around their own centre in this way. In turning, making a pilgrimage to that centre of our their being.” And for me, God in Akram Khan’s work is a monistic force more than anything else, it is Spinoza’s abstract and impersonal, immanent god? For me it is the Duende, it is the life of things.

When the fury of our everyday life keeps our inner ocean at bay, Akram Khan’s work is a raw struggle with ourselves. It is a struggle against the external force, against the authority of structures and rationality. This work is a strugglewith the internal force, and the acceptance/welcoming of an ungraspable irrationality in our existence, in Existence. 

“Deus sive Natura” (Spinoza)

Undercurrents. (Narrating a choreography)


There is a fear of speaking, and an even greater fear of writing. I circumvented this block around writing by finding other means for expression, like dance and photography. In doing so, I ended out re-enforcing my obstacle. The process of writing has come to feel like a straightjacket. Writing has become an oppressive process. It left me feeling  constricted, clumsy and violated. It took me a month to start writing this blog. Actually I have not written my first blog yet, this is the second assignment. I would put aside time after rehearsal to sit in front of my computer and swipe my fingers across the keyboard, helplessly. This exercise of narrating a choreography first scared me, and then I considered it as an attempt to unblock the writing process. 

Writing about dance seems absurd to me, since I dive into dancing and into my body instead of writing. 


In my body, sweating, ragged, bare and tiny. Awkward and uncomfortable. And strangled, silenced by the loudness of words and the weight of my flesh. At first these limbs are distant. But then there is cold ground and movement around. I must shake my limbs before the first group ends. I shake my body as a big bird on the ground shaking its feathers lazily before flight, or an attempt to jump into thin air. I feel like Baudelaire’s ugly Albatross, not quite made for this environment, I am clumsy in my body and terribly unwelcome. Reggie’s “shake” helps me release this tension, I get rid of my epistemological barriers, I get out of that body, I shake off the ugliness and imagine drops of water, dust and mud fly in each direction. It is a new rise. I am cleansed and energized. There are ripples moving from inwards out and back again. Where the frenzy that inhabits my soul embraces the convulsions of my body.

  One step, a second step I am not listening to the music yet. With my third step I tune in. There is a beat there is a cry. I do not know what we called this song. The long? the short? It is the one with breath and cries and moans. it is the one we learnt with Anna and Raja. I drag my right leg out and place my weight on top of it. I just sat on those big air/sand cushions, and the air is gushing in every direction under my weight. The noise of air collapsing through a pressed bag. A cushion of bursting energy ready to spring back into motion. But first it is a slow movement and in it I collect strength. It is a statement. I have to look at myself in the mirror, and acknowledge what I am for what I am at this moment, not who I am.  And I feel others around me making that same statement of presence. 

Breathe in. Sharp. It is as though I were plunging under water. A preparation . When I go under water, I disconnect. Soaking in the bath, I breathe in before plunging underneath to hear nothing but the beating of blood against my eardrums. It is like a form of meditation.   Nothing else exists. You only exist within; the rest is blurred and distant. And so I breathe in. I breathe into my senses, everything else receding into soft focus. I cannot clearly perceive those around me, but I will feel the ripples as someone kicks through the water besides me. The wave hits me, and so the ripples of water become ripples of energy in the dance studio. 

So I breathe into that dimension before jumping into the phrase. Before pivoting with the force of my arms swaying under and above. It is a ball that I throw to those next to me. When Reggie leads the warm up. When he brings his shoulders to his ears and I know what is coming: the tension builds, builds in the neck, the tension of the week: it hangs us from above and there we are suspended by that energy, waiting for release… and then it comes, that moment when we can cut the cord and release, and scream, and shout and drop down. There I release that tension of the breath as I throw both my arms and right leg. Arms, arms, Shoulder, shoulder, elbow, elbow: a moment of ease has arrived. Of unconfined energy and unthought movement. 

This drop. A missed flight of steps. A low shutter speed photograph. A heart beat that dropped. Weightless. A split second in midair. An exhalation, like one you would do in the fresh night air to test your vapor. But before it dissipates you’re spinning.  There is no story. There is only now. There is only flow. There is only forms in space and senses in time. Pascal’s division of time. An infinite present. Music notes. The vapor is still there in suspension and I swivel to see it fly to pieces: dispersed and disappearing like a balloon of dust just burst and flying in the air, the energy bursts in every direction. Slow motion and sharp at the same time.  

When I contain the motion. My foot turns out, twisting through my heel. It is when I try to seem composed. But it is there tugging at my leg. Wake up. Morning call, the top of my body follows the movement effortlessly before falling back into position. The movement is an opening of the chest, and brings my sensual satisfaction: Because I predict my next second where I will give into the impulse. It is a tingle in my stomach. A little twitch: like when someone pinches your lower thigh, just above knee level. That tingle. It is acknowledged joy where I consciously accept the movement and follow the impulse. I thrust my arms in the air, and I cannot help but be dramatic, whole body following the movement and dragging my steps. And what a flow.

The energy pulls me forward. An energy that sucks me in, which is why my movement is motivated  by the opening of the chest that pursues itself into my arms and whole body falling into those small forward steps. Before coming to halt on the edge of a cliff. The cliff is not emptiness. It is a great open landscape. A landscape of possibilities, and of unrestricted movement: the edge of the scene and of the stage. On the edge between performance and wholeness. The limit to which the dancer can entirely let go of everything, and I walk towards it, considering it. 

There I catch my breath. The call of emptiness that had drawn me forward, sucked me into its impulse. My internal voice moans, but its the moan of a weight lifter.  When I dance I place sounds to energy, in the same way Raja does. I have cries, loud breaths, moans and shrieks for movements and their according energies. So here my sound, it’s like that of the  weightlifter trying to make that first motion up, like when you are lying in bed and you give yourself a little motivational cry to contract those abs and sit up straight. I have this deep frustration when dancing. It always feels slightly off, slightly wrong. I try to find myself entirely connected to the movement, and the moment that I do, I suddenly mess up. I get it wrong, I miss a step, hit someone, fall out of rhythm: just when I thought I had accessed that point, the point of letting go. 

Here I am on that edge of the cliff, sucked in by the energy of emptiness, and I have to pull out from it. The cry fades as my leg effectively forces me back to the middle of the scene, where the action is happening. It is back in a flung arabesque, but my body is still there gazing at the horizon one last time before energetically giving into the motion. It is a choice, and the choice propels me in my swirl -feet lift the ground, -loose, -air, -wind, -freeze, -cross arms, -breathe out, -place yourself, -place your shoulders, -center the weight, -be present . Feel the tension flowing through those crossed arms as though they were crossed overlapping highways and cars, energy zooming down one forearm, lane, onto the next, up the shoulder down the back through the left. Like a giant roller coster in a figure of eight.

My heart is still pounding and when I can’t take it anymore I let it all out, throw arms down, the release, the shaking ,the throwing, the sound in my mind mimics our shrieks when warming up with Reggie, that furious rage. This is the point when I breathe in again. And for some reason, this is also when I remember how every wednesday night, I have two essays to write. That helps me swing into the weird “go through your legs and swing your body along”. The risk, the chance, the intent, I need to move away from something. To throw the weight off my back. Probably also because blood is flowing through my neck to my eyes, and I start to feel claustrophobic and once again conscious of my physical trap.

At that moment, my eyes, they always seem lost in the distance, pleading. My arms are outstretched and then, I feel so vulnerable. As though I had just been caught in a moment of utmost deliverance, one where I let the world see how desperate I am. And there my arms are suspended, a little hopeless as though I just let something I was firmly clutching fall to the ground, and shatter. Let my composure fall and shatter. I am plié, arms relaxed and outstretch, gaze lost and asking for something.  Do you know why I move? Do you know why I threw it away? Why I had to shake it all off? But that’s hardly a split second. It’s the captured moment when we awake and have no idea where we are, it hardly lasts a moment, and then everything is normal again? And I can go on with my movement. It is all unconscious again and just about the present time again. This arabesque is a stretch. To the tip of my finger to my extended foot, I could nearly shake from the energy and force I am putting into the extension. It travels from the inside out, like a blossom. Like a drop of coffee on paper-towel. When all the energy there is has been consumed, when I feel the satisfaction nestling into my muscles, as a yawn or a stretch, I release. And the sound of my head is exactly that of a yawn coming to an end. I fall backwards. I imagine gushing air, the noise of a high speed train passing right through your ear. Or standing just a little too close to the sidewalk edge when the bus swoops by. I let the potential movement drag me and I fall with the extended leg, pulled out of place by the motion. Falling into movement. Falling into release.

Open letter to Nancy Dalva


Dear Nancy Dalva,

My name is Indrani Krishnan-Lukomski, I am a Yale student taking part in the
Merce Cunningham Legacy project. It was a pleasure and honor listening to you
last week. Your words were beautiful and powerful and I hope we will be able to
hear more of them at the end of this week.
I have always loved Merce Cunningham. I remember going once to a festival in
Marseilles, around 3 years ago, Merce had just passed away and they played
recordings of some choreographies. The room slowly emptied, people leaving one
after another. I guess I couldn’t grasp a lot of what was going on, but I found
his work extremely powerful and could not understand the general reaction. Since
then this experience stuck with me and you can imagine my surprise and disbelief
when I heard the Legacy project was coming to Yale.

This semester has been a unique experience for me and I have constantly been
inspired by J.Goggans, M.Harper, N.Greenberg and Merce Cunningham.
Yesterday I danced for three hours, going through Jen’s warm up exercises,
through Roaratorio and the Mini Event. This morning I woke up at 6 thinking
about Roaratorio. I started the day going through each step each rhythm in my
mind. And then it blew across my mind that in a week it would be all over. I
just couldn’t help feeling pain and loss because it is as though I have
forgotten how any other way of dancing is possible. Recently there was a click
and I made my first few steps into a universe. And I feel it with Meg and Jen.
It is more than just dance that they share with us: I always have the impression
it is a part of themselves they are revealing to us, because once you enter that
?total? it becomes the air you breathe and just sticks.
I don’t know, I just suddenly really wanted to write to you and reflect on what
you said last week, about your “fidelity” to Cunningham’s universe. I can’t
even try to imagine what the company went through. I think I have now realized
just a small portion of what dedication is. I had not really understood until
now. I just wanted to introduce myself and share my experience.

Thank you and all best regards,

Indrani Krishnan-Lukosmki

Annihilation, the first step towards self-definition.


Annihilation, the first step towards self-definition.

(http://ydtp.commons.yale.edu/2012/02/11/you-now-have-four-minutes-and-thirty-three-seconds-to-read-this/ Continued.

« Immanence in Cunningham’s work is about occupying space, embodying your internal music. In this process the spark of self-definition brings the dancer into existence… »)


“Dance is an art in space and time. The object of the dancer is to obliterate that.” Merce Cunningham.

As an emblem of an original and symbolic universe, Merce Cunningham is not only an artist and choreographer but also a philosopher who approaches his works as existential enquiries: the purpose of Dance being self-definition. However, before achieving this, the road is long and the Dancer, choreographer and spectator must progress through different steps.  For Merce Cunningham it seems as though the first step towards self-definition is deconstruction and annihilation.

Merce Cunningham’s choreographies are characterized by the simplicity of movement, preciseness in rhythm and apparent lack of emotion and of a storyline. In this simplification of Dance, Cunningham is striving to represent movement in its purest form. Cunningham, it seems, wanted his art to be direct and without flourish and adornment. Through his celebration of fundamentals, Merce Cunningham presents simplicity as the path to purity, which is itself the promise to existential and artistic understanding.

In a Cunningham piece the dancer is stripped and his Dance is dismembered. I have more than once felt “exposed” as I perform Roaratorio. I feel uncovered and unmasked because I can no longer hide behind acting out a role, an emotion guided by music… behind an imposture. Jennifer Goggans described to us late representations where the dancers performed on square stages mounted so that the public could walk around and take in every angle of the piece. There is in such a choice of scenic organization a sort of dissection of the choreography and of the dancers’ movements.

Achieving authenticity and originality is presented as a necessity. Indeed in putting aside all ornaments the Dancer is able to move away from his epistemological barriers. These disabled him to see through to the foundations of his dance, and, simultaneously, to the very core of his person. In being asked to perform without “fluff” I managed to empty my mind from distractions and be simply preoccupied with what I am realizing and doing in the present moment. With no story to tell, no expressions to imitate I am able to concentrate on nothingness and on everything at the same time: being simply present. Cunningham structures his creations around the fundamentals of dance: time and space, which metaphysically define existence. So Cunningham’s purified form of dance gives me “that single fleeting moment when you feel alive” as he so well said.

Indeed, when dancing with Cunningham’s method I move away from everything that is superficial, in some way it is as annihilation. And it is then that the magic operates. I go from “nothingness” to being brought into existence by my movement. I am able to become one with my movement and embody my Dance, it is a beautiful and very intense sensation: Meg Harper described this as one of her reasons for joining Cunningham’s Company.

In committing to this detoxified form of Dancing and in concentrating on the vividness of the present moment, I have started to feel aware of how I function. It is as though deconstructing and simplifying my movements pushes me to analyze myself through a clearer gaze.

Merce Cunningham has given to my dancing a whole new importance. I have now adopted an introspective approach and am slowly understanding how dancing will help me blossom and define my individuality.

“The daily discipline, the continued keeping of the elasticity of the muscles, the continued control of the mind over the body’s actions, […] that the mind, body and spirit function as one.” *Merce Cunningham*


… To be continued.


Experimentation, the second step towards self-definition.


Experimentation, the second step towards self-definition.


(Continuation of “Annihilation, the first step towards self-definition.”)


My very first interaction with Merce Cunningham’s choreography struck my curiosity. I was primarily intrigued by the originality and simplicity, but also intensity, of what I saw. However, not everyone shared my opinion and I was really surprised by the general reaction of the public. Spectators left one by one and less than half remained at the end of the piece. During the first steps of Merce Cunningham’s Company, host theaters affiliated his shows to the “Experimental Section” of their repertory.

For Merce Cunningham Dance is self-definition. However, before achieving this, the road is long and the Dancer, choreographer and spectator must progress through different steps. The first step towards self-definition is deconstruction and annihilation. The second step is experimentation.

In my previous blog post I talked about Cunningham’s commitment to a simple and purified form of Dancing. Before the start of the Spring semester and of the project I was excited, but also a little anxious about dancing with Cunningham’s method. I remember wondering and I admit, worrying, that the attachment to deconstructed movement would be limiting choreographically and that classes would very quickly become repetitive. It is true that we cover little new material from one class to another, and that our warm ups are usually the same. However, when I compare our first workshop with our last one, and the way I executed and execute the very same exercises, it is evident that I have greatly matured as a dancer.

Committing to one method of Dance, one style and being immersed on a long-term basis in a single artistic universe is a new, disciplining and enriching experience. Before this project my dancing was very diversified and every week I followed a workshop with a different technique. This was definitely an incredible opportunity, but still I was never, until now, able to concentrate on progressing in a specific area of master and with a recurring structure. In devoting myself entirely to Cunningham’s method, I strive to do my best in one field. Each time a repeat an exercise I am trying to surpass my last execution. I am fully concentrated. Such a concentration entails a commitment, both physical and intellectual, that marks presence in the current moment.

There is in this assiduity a desire to bring all that is undertaken to its fullest achievement. Cunningham pushes every movement to an extreme. He forces the dancer to pour his/her energy in a single act at a time. Going to the bottom of every movement, searching it and testing it until every possibility and aspect has been explored. For example, Jennifer Goggans explained how Merce would ask them to repeat the same phrase over and over again: only on one occasion with a terribly slow pace and on another with an exceedingly rapid one.

Specifically since the beginning of the project, I have become more attentive to the preciseness in detail of my movements. I am one of the “Droopers”. From the outside our phrase appears very easy. However, behind the apparent simplicity there is a continual work where I concentrate on each characteristic of my actions. I try my best to execute the choreography as its extreme realization. In pushing back the frontiers of movement and the limits of my body I understand better the extent of what I am embracing. In continuously putting myself to the test I progress and challenge myself as a dancer. This allows me, at the same time, to understand my inward mechanism.

Just like the common example of teenagers who go through many eccentricities as they try to settle their identity, Cunningham uses extremes to break from the conventional ties of society. In refusing to compromise in the name of public opinion, Cunningham forced me to move away from beaten paths and to wander into the unknown territory of my own capacities. In this exploration of dance and in choreographic experimentation, the absolute commitment with which I execute the choreography enables me to really embody its purified form of movement. By doing so not only is there continued self-amelioration, but I am also able to understand to the fullest the purpose, meaning and manifestation of this art and of my relation to it.

…To be continued.

You now have four minutes and thirty three seconds to read this.


You now have four minutes and thirty three seconds to read this.

“Setting a process going which has no necessary beginning, no middle, no end, and no section.” My first interaction with John Cage surely replicates the musician’s general reputation. Four minutes and thirty three seconds of music like I had never heard it before. Well, in the beginning I couldn’t hear it at all. Later in his interview on His Own Music, source for my opening quote, Cage mentions the immanence of Art in our daily routines.

Delving into a project like the Cunningham Legacy at Yale is the precious opportunity to be immersed in a unique artistic Universe. An aficionada of art history, my admiration for Post-War and Contemporary art has been growing stronger and stronger since the first sparks of my adolescent mutinies. Rauschenberg, John Cage, Jasper Johns and Merce Cunningham: the quartet. I veneered them as the intellectual cradle of an artistic revolution. Iconoclasts! Idealist realists! Pure creation and true artists! This semester has given me the perfect excuse to push my curiosity further and actually be a part of their world. It is a gift. Last semester the Gagosian Galleries hosted an exposition of Rauschenberg’s private collections. It was constructed so as to understand the inspiring and avant-garde artistic environment in which he had lived and created. Just like our project this exposition was another way of entering the artist’s universe.

What I am trying to explain is that “one does not simply” walk into the Dance Studio, rehearse for Roaratorio, and then walk out and back into student routine. Merce Cunningham is a whole, the symbol of an artistic movement: in participating in the perpetuation of his legacy, I feel drawn into his universe.

As I weekly discover more and more about the artist I cannot help but feel overwhelmed by the general logic and sense of purpose that I find in everything related to him. Every detail of Cunningham’s existence and thoughts constructs around an undeniable thread of sensibility and consciousness, towards his artistic creation. I’ve used many big words, and still can’t explain what I feel: maybe because this where the problem lies. Cunningham’s artistic universe is self-explanatory and his works are an expression of this flowing sense of authenticity.

There is no break in Cunningham’s creation, no fundamental rupture it seems. This is where I bring music in. As I write I am listening to John Cage’s “In a Landscape” on repeat. It took me twenty minutes before realizing there had not once been a break in the flow of the music. As said in the opening, John cage creates music that has neither beginning nor end. It simply exists, without ever properly starting or ending? A circle has neither beginning nor end; it is the symbol of infinity. In light of this, of Cage’s comments on art in daily routine and of his piece 4:33, John Cage seems to imply that music is everywhere all the time. Of art being an ongoing creation.

This conception of music is definitely an issue I have had to face in working with the Merce Cunningham Project. This notion that each element of my surrounding is connected to another has challenged my perception of the creative/artistic process. I am indeed much more aware of my environment now. At the beginning of the project “I danced to silence”. Now, my whole approach has changed and I have become aware of those with whom I share my movements and space. Henceforth I dance to breathing, feet shuffling on the ground, I take cues…
I had never necessarily realized it, but when dancing to music I concentrate on the music alone, and count. Each dancer “dances to the music” and has a personal relationship with this music. However the individual dancer does not consciously share the act of dancing with the others.

When we do Cunningham’s group dances at rehearsal I have at times felt as though there were electricity running through the dancers: and in this way connecting us. I was told that Merce Cunningham could spend hours looking down into New York’s crowded streets. I feel as though Cunningham has recreated these scenes in his group choreographies. And indeed, there is something galvanizing in walking with a crowd. The marching and the pace propel you along and you participate in this deafening pounding that starts to resonate in you. The crowd/group/mass is animated by an intention and become bound together by this perpetual rhythm.

It is this realization that made a first impact in my life outside of the Dance Studio and actually changed my approach to and perception of my surroundings. I walk around with big green headphones. I already knew it was dangerous (accidents involving pedestrians wearing the devices have tripled in recent years!) but at that moment I suddenly realized how completely disconnected I was from my surroundings, and from people. So I decided to take the headphones off and listen to the music that was already out there, all around me. For the first time in a long time, I walked with purpose to my next class! I felt a connection and silently shared something inexplicably valuable with my surroundings.

In dancing without an external source of music, Cunningham, I think, makes a beautiful claim about our relationships with people, with our surroundings and the world. Cunningham values the music within, the intuitive music. Immanent. As I said earlier Cunningham is a whole. The spectator is pulled into his universe, and then haunted by it, because there is an overwhelming sense of order and inevitability in it. I think this comes from the important distinction between immanence and transcendence in the artist’s creation. Cunningham’s “world” is immanent to his person and this is why everything in it is so self-explanatory and logically intertwined. Immanence in Cunningham’s work is about occupying space, embodying your internal music. In this process the spark of self-definition brings the dancer into existence.