My Body, The Buddhist
Publication Year: 2013
My Body, The Buddhist becomes a way into Hay's choreographic techniques, a gloss on her philosophy of the body (which shares much with Buddhism), and an extraordinary artist's primer. The book is composed of nineteen short chapters ("my body likes to rest," "my body finds energy in surrender," "my body is bored by answers"), each an example of what Susan Foster calls Hay's "daily attentiveness to the body's articulateness."
Published by: Wesleyan University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Introducing Deborah Hay’s body-as-Buddhist.Such an agile body,capable oflightning-quick transformations—ﬂoppy then precise,al-ways deft,full ofbuffoonery and deadly serious in its commitment toeach gesture.It gallops,swaggers,tip-toes,and falls gently backwardinto the embrace ofspace.Scrambling or gliding to standing,it gri-...
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...work with small and large favors that over time have become price-less gifts.Constant,whether I am away from Austin for long periodsthese friends are essential to the network ofrelationships I need tolive as I do.They are Emily Little,Phyllis Liedeker,Johanna Smith,for my solo performance practice at his Park Place Studio,for ﬁve...
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Alone in candlelight one evening several years ago I made a list ofthemost valued teachings learned from my teacher,my body.I wanted toitemize,to see a written account ofthe practical wisdom I have dis-also noticed a parallel with Buddhist thought,although I am not apracticing Buddhist.For as long as I can remember I have intuitively...
1 my body benefits in solitude
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We are dying.We think we are not.This is a good argument for givingI lie on the ﬂoor in the corpse pose, called Shavasana in yoga.Wherever I am the dance is. Instead of dancing wherever I am, I choose the timeand space to play dance. This is equilibrium, and motion. Several minutespass before I remember even to notice that my thoughts are going...
2 my body finds energy in surrender
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...shop for sixteen untrained and trained dancers,held in Austin,Texas.It concluded with the premiere of my heartin April 1995.In May Ibegan the most integrative phase ofthe choreography—extracting asolo from the group dance material.Seven months later,Voilà,bornfrom my heart,premiered at the Public Domain,a theater in Austin....
3 my body enjoys jokes, riddles, and games
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Both hands are used to signal whether a joke, a riddle, or a game is beingdescribed. The reader will find this information in the margins.A jjoke iis rrepresented bby aa rraised rright ﬁﬁst, tthumb ooutstretched aand bbent aatthe kknuckle. A joke is something said or done to provoke laughter oramusement, as a witticism, a prankish act; an object of jesting: a thing or...
4 my body engages in work
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On February 15,1996,I brought twenty-four tall,glass-encased can-dles,purchased at a Latino grocery store in Park Slope in Brooklyn,into the dance studio at Skidmore College. I wanted to create a sooth-ing atmosphere for the ﬁrst evening seminar.* At the height of win-ter,the cool,blue glare from overhead incandescent lamps did not...
5 my body commits to practice
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Each new performance practice signiﬁes a conscious re-invention ofmy mind. Beginning with a puzzlingly simple feeling of integrationexperienced while I am dancing,I attempt to articulate and then de-ﬂeeting logic. When I have discovered all I can from one approach,II feel like a tower of babble. Millions of voices speak from my body...
6 my body seeks comfort but not for long
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The past is irretrievable and the future doesn’t exist. Why don’tIn February 1995,Linda Montano asked seven Austin dancers to par-ticipate with her and Ellen Fullman in a seven-hour memorial for herguru who had recently died. Linda used her voice in memory or cele-bration of each of the seven chakras. Ellen Fullman played her long-...
7 my body is limited by physical presence
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A dance is choreographed. It is performed. If a dancer or choreogra-pher is lucky,there will be several public performances. Most danceshave a weirdly limited lifetime. The hours I have spent on stage per-forming dance add up to less than a single year. My body is limited byphysical presence. I need more from dance than what I can get danc-...
8 my body knowingly participates in its appearances
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...this time and place,directing the ﬂesh in action—this ﬁctionalThe prologue is read aloud by the choreographer, who is sitting at a table with aquart-size jar of water. While reading, she intermittently stops to drink.Eight performances of Voilà ran for two consecutive weekends in No-vember 1995 at the Public Domain,a performance venue on Congress...
9 my body likes rest
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I received help. October 1, 1996, a driver of a black sedan, courtesyof the Rockefeller Foundation, met me at Malpensa Airport. I hadleft Melbourne, Australia, twenty-four-and-a-half hours earlier. Afterﬁfteen months on the road, my luggage was too much to cart any-more. I was carrying performance and dance practice clothes, street...
10 my body is bored by answers
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I was never drawn to participate in sacred dance classes. I feared myirreverence, cynicism, and snobbery. Little did I realize that my prob-...
11 my body seeks more than one view of itself
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My body ﬁlls, absorbs, distills. Is Still. I’m going to be anSo I wasn’t surprised when praying surfaced. As far as I know, veryfew of my peers have been smitten with similar holy journeys withinthe context of experimental dance. It is generally understood that weveer away from this subject matter altogether. Finding myself with...
12 my body delights in resourcefulness
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...both clarity and arbitrary meaninglessness in the same gestures;amusing; with an inner secrecy that ﬁnds it all-revealing; with awhich conveys a sense of urgent ﬂight as slowly as she can move.She turns (I don’t see her turn) and asks, “Who are you?” My“What do you want?” is sincere. “Fire,” she breathes. “What...
13 my body trusts the unknown
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The I Ching, an ancient Chinese book consisting of sixty-four ora-cles, was the single source of guidance to which I referred for cho-reographic direction before the start of my four-month workshop,Playing Awake,1995.To consult a hexagram,three coins are tossed inthe air six times. The combination of heads and tails determines...
14 my body feels weightless in the presence of paradox
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Exit is seven minutes. Samuel Barber’s Molto Adagio from the String Quartet,Opus 11, played by the Emerson String Quartet, inspires the solo dance. As thelights come up, the performer is seen standing to one side of the stage. Theimpulse to begin moving comes after the music starts. An arm lifts in thedirection the dance will travel. The dancer crosses from one side or corner of the...
15 my body equates patience with renewal
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...tour from May 1996 through September 1997.I was playing whatevercards I could to ensure ﬁnancial stability,and thus my attention wasLike other experimental artists,I am learning to redeﬁne home.Mycity,state,and country are not predisposed to treat me as theirs.Inthe arts columns,in their minds,or on the streets,perhaps.At the box...
16 my body hears many voices, not one voice
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...listening includes all sound as well as language and its syntax,context.This is essential to the process of unlocking layer after’ : Some of the movement descrip-tions may seem incomplete.It is because at times my capacity to dif-appropriate in the moment than one of the dancer’s seems unreason-...
17 my body relaxes when thoughts abate
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The three dances are dedicated to Cynthia Jean Cohen Bull who diedticed an uninterrupted,open-minded inquiry into all types of danc-ing.With her husband,Richard Bull,they created the Warren StreetRichard followed her lead into death.Their absence and their pres-...
18 my body is held in the present
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There are no tickets or reserved seats.I don’t know where the danceperformance is and I am not to look for nor anticipate the location.The choreographer whose work I am about to see suggests that thesmall group consisting of her audience/patrons apply her frame ofized,and massaged.My clothes contain stimulants that heighten the...
a chronicle of performance practices
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...1985:I imagine every cell in my body invites being seen perceiving1987:I imagine every cell in my body has the potential to perceive1988:I imagine every cell in my body has the potential to perceive1989:I imagine every cell in my body at once invites being seen not1990:I imagine every cell in my body perceives that alignment is...
about the authors
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... is “an experimentalist in soul and body”(New YorkTimes) and “a phenomenon capable of expanding and diversifying thelanguage of movement in the most striking and unexpected ways”(Dance Australia).Her choreography,from exquisitely meditative solosto dances for large groups of untrained and trained dancers,explores...
Page Count: 133
Publication Year: 2013