Since 2001 I’ve explored articulations of the body that vacillate between organized and disorganized. This was originally articulated in Bedrock (2003) created in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing, just a few blocks from the apocalyptic site.
What choreographically emerged with Bedrock was developed further in twisted, tack, broken (2005) to explore interspecies culture, and extended with Macho (2008) which explored pain while responding to the escalation of war. With PARK, through a direct physical engagement with a landfill site, the disorganized body was projected beyond the body to the environment.
Throughout these works, disorganized configurations of the body emerge from physical parameters that impose forms of restriction and/or ‘incorrectness’, i.e. dropping the head forward or back from the more typical upright position sometimes to a point that affects balance. In contrast to these disorganized configurations, organized ones are the pedestrian with which we are most familiar; but they are also the outcomes of the physical attempts to ‘make sense’ of a disorganized configuration.
That is to say, at times the ‘making sense of’ is very ad hoc, instinctive, and spastic – bodies appear to stumble toward cohesion; at other times it is very thorough, researched, even meditative. Paradoxically, dancers talk of how they come to feel more actively aligned in mind and body through this integrated practice of misalignment, particularly when multiple misalignments exist in the body simultaneously.
In these works there is a process of creative physical exploration that is simultaneously disturbing and enlivening for me as an artist. As outcome I look to the works themselves but also to the articulation of a dizzyingly dimensional body that is unstable, unpredictable, and unbound.
The continued curiosity and engagement in this process – mine along with other artists and audiences through ongoing workshops, labs, rehearsals, and performances – over the years has generated an expanding movement-based system that for me has implications beyond the rendering of a given work. These practices have enabled me to subvert the physical and choreographic structures that have informed me. And they speak to the inherent adaptability of the human body and mind to ever shifting circumstance and environment.
--Kathy Westwater, January 2011
photo Ian Douglas
caption: A female dancer inhabits a dance studio. With her back to us she faces a large enigmatic sculpture in a far corner. One arm is raised elbow bent over her head, which is held gently tipping backwards.