Two Days of Doings for Dance.

For someone who has built their life around their passion, lately I’ve felt passionless while I go about the tasks needed to complete my supposed purpose-driven life – wait a minute, this is starting to feel like what my brain categorizes as a job. And then I ask, if a job didn’t take care of me, give me benefits, acknowledge my contribution, then wouldn’t I leave it?? So what exactly are you doing Paige Barnes and why?

A dance critic recently told me that he wanted to start a new series dedicated to the day-in and day-out of an artist, to share the unseen groundwork. I am inspired by this idea – I am stealing this idea – kind of. Below, I share the chores of two days of art-making activities. This is what I do on my days off from earning actual money. While I execute the responsibilities of my passion at a professional level, it is still basically a volunteer job, a life-long internship – ahem, it is for my soul, for humanity, for community, for…. Articism (I’ve recently exclaimed): a radical idealism where life’s choices are based around serving a creative process for self and society – at least this is what I keep telling (lying?) myself.

Okay, so here are two days… in the life of an artist who’s constant questioning of herself has perhaps led to her own demise (but I’m starting to change this perspective). This is not a new story. But it is my story… and it has not yet concluded. It is a repetitive composition, one of my favorite compositional tools, a tool that I have been criticized for using from those that are higher up… those that have an authoritative position to decide which artist gets into what festival, which artist is presented and/or which artist receives funding (thus accelerating them into the land of the acknowledged and supported.) So, I repeat a familiar story with an ending that makes me reset my intentions, start over and try again and again.

Friday, December 9

Wade Madsen’s dance class started off my day. Afterward, on the schedule was a photo session: take photos of OFS for OFS’ new website (while I was there I decided to take personal Gyrotonic publicity photos too).
It was easy to take the photos of the space but harder to take the ones of me – self-scrutiny set in. I became slightly depressed and tried to brush it off, so I turned my thoughts to the next day – HERE/NOW. What to do about the room’s temperature…the room quickly heats and quickly cools while the floor remains a consistent cold. I decided to keep the heat on through the night to try to warm the floor. After the photo session, I headed over to Next Fest NW at Velocity Dance Center. During this process, I received an email from Aileen Imperial (resident HERE/NOW videographer), that her camera broke and we brainstormed about alternatives to videotape HERE/NOW. During the show, through text, I contacted a few people to help. Ryan Adams agreed to shoot the event – a sigh out of relief for both Aileen and I. Afterward I visited my dear friend Mônica Mata Gilliam, it was her birthday and she was celebrating at Studio D. She is an artist in residence there; she is living in the space, among her creations and new acupuncture treatment room. It is her temporary home. I watched exotic birds play from Netflix projected on the white box originally created for a photographer’s studio. I absorbed the birds’ movements and feather expressions during their mating ritual, which could potentially influence future movement and costume ideas. I went home.

Saturday, December 10

After waking, I listened to a phone message. It was from Etienne Capko (an African dance teacher who instructs at OFS) telling me that an OFS window broke last night. I worried further about the temperature at the space and how to fix it. In the meantime, I bought a coffee, some plastic, and scissors, called the landlord and headed to the space. The window was not too bad but I feared that it would break more, and spill onto the street injuring someone. A repairman was on the way… While waiting, I vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, made a ‘to do’ list for the day: buy light bulbs, dust mop and facial tissue, go to the bank. I returned to OFS to find the window repairman; he was unable to fix the window at that moment – Ahhh! Before the show, I taped the window with plastic and set up the risers and the chairs with HERE/NOW cohort Christopher Hydinger, welcomed the participants and anticipated the beginning duet. By 7pm one participating dancer had not arrived, I became worried and thought f**k, am I going to have to perform??… As I imagined preparing for such an act, Stephanie Skura walked through the door. I asked her if she could write me a score, in the case I had to dance. She did so on a napkin and I began to prepare mentally.

10 minutes to 8pm, the dancer arrives – another sigh out of relief.

HERE/NOW happened. APPLAUSE. APPLAUSE. APPLAUSE. APPLAUSE.APPLAUSE.APPLAUSE.

I was tired and sad to admit, I watched the show with an ambivalent lens. The enthusiasm of the participating artists and audience inspired me. Seeing how Brysen Angeles was touched by Karen Nelson’s piece pulled me out of my indifference. Brysen is a b-boy dancer and Karen Nelson, a contact improviser, two individuals from seemingly disparate movement perspectives and backgrounds. After Karen’s performance, Brysen gave a standing ovation and later generously and sincerely praised her during a post performance interview. It was meaningful to see this impact, this connection.

Time to strike! Risers and chairs went away, a lot of heavy lifting happened – I was hungry. We got in the car and rushed to KT Niehoff’s party to celebrate her new space. My hunger transformed into thirst – I wanted a drink. I walked into the dance room and unexpectedly partook in a sweaty dance party. I spun around, kicked my legs up, fell and slid around on the ground. I laughed hard and became disoriented with joy – finally a release and reminder about why I do what I do.

Start over. See you at the next installment!