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Forgetting Memory: Excerpts from The Ghost Writing Dance

by Aimée Dawn Robinson

2015 for The Ghost Writing Dance


*excerpts here, not the whole work, for more see below.



Don’t fake it baby, lay the real thing on me.

I am the record. You are the record. Dance is the secret.

Memory is made to challenge loss. Forgetting inverts, eases, capsizes; the other side of memory. The body surges with both, dance is the space between.


Embrace of continuity is dance. Rejection of continuity is dance. An ahistorical body. Memory lapse removes inscriptions on the body created by the violence of memory enforced by language.


On the morning of the performance I wake up too early. On the morning of the performance the birds are chirping and there is no milk for tea. I pray for a cloak of invisibility. The weather whips peace with troubles, gray hair rising to gray skies and crazed party children with swords and feathers in a room. Moons pass. Flipping off film frames of sun and rails, each night breeds tomorrow in a slow winter burn.


Old loversʼ faces flip by, a deck of cards. Kings and Jacks, Jokers and Queens. Muses. The red peony root will push through the soil, into my dreams of bicycle wheels through a green corridor. The space between paddle and water, between hair and the pillow, between fish and water, between one leg and another.


In another world, Kaz jingles the change in his pocket, pulls a candy out of a wrapper, backs the truck up into the laneway, sits with one leg stuck out the open door, skims the paper before weighing the harvest and feeding barking dogs. My ghost is there, keeping house. Sweeping the entryway, moving cats aside to step out to say good morning.

Sun in the eyes. Stage lights in the eyes.

A gift from poverty is well chosen.


Following the switchbacks across the clay cliffs, up the high ridge, over and down into the Hidden Lakes, along the silver river. Further north at the confluence where that one slope lowers into where the currents meet. Forgot how to cross a busy street. Walked across the river ice to the other side under a shining Moon. Across the river, up the trail to the west side of the ice road, up the hill. Pass the fork to the right. Don’t take it.


Forgetting is the other side of memory, relies on memory. Forgetting is the inverse, memory’s continuance in another direction. Imprints and information redirected, stored in the body. Sublimated, subverted, memory continues other forms. Forgetting is the organizer of memory and its shape-changer. Forgetting makes space for dance, distorts and drops. Some things are best left forgotten. I am the record. You are the record. Dance is the secret.


No forgetting, no present. Forgetting ruptures, forces the present. Searching for things forgotten reconnects us with the past. Re-locating the forgotten heals the rupture. Written memory maintains colonization. You better not forget your place. What happens if I forget my place? What happens if I forget my place on purpose?


There was deep heavy snow free of footprints. It was about minus five out, early February. The audience watched from inside the glass doors to the courtyard. The music played inside through a stereo, the viewers could hear it but I could not. I sang the song in my head, a recording of “Blanche Biche” by Elöise Decazes and Eric Chenaux, lyrics en Français, melancholic. Two, maybe just one, floodlights were positioned outside raking a hard bright light across the snow on a diagonal. The edges of the courtyard left to shadow and incidental pools of amber light from iron lamps in the adjacent park. The roses near the stone wall hadn’t been cut back. Quarter Moon, fairly clear. Before the audience arrived I paced from the sanctuary, where the second half of the performance would take place, into the courtyard, and back again. Jacket on, boots on. Jacket off, boots off. Jacket on, boots on. Jacket off, boots off. I wore my work clothes for the dance. Three pairs of socks. Sloppy boots. Long johns. Jeans thin at the knees. Denim shirt. Snaps. Green longsleeve. Long-sleeved undershirt. T-shirt. No coat. No gloves. I deked out a door no one could see, walked round back, entered the courtyard, snow up to the knee. The music started inside.


The wave says goodbye to the shore. From inside outside in, the wave unties the lesser shadow, wide white moving ridge. Remove the unnecessary. Fall to your knees. Fall again from there, fall again from there, fall and again from there, again from there fall, fall again, fall again, and fall from there again. Swing that axe.


There is a field of wheat growing on the crown of your head. You are becoming clay. You are becoming pollen. You are becoming light.


Follow the wide path through the reeds and pale grasses between sand dunes leading to the shore. Winds. Cut-leaf willows blow. The lake way up to the root line of the trees. Walking against the wind, the sand slips under your feet, through the tangles of roots. High waves. Each wave is a wagon bringing white rolling light to the road you scant seen ahead.

Glimpse the longings of sailors. Whistle Dixie. Experiment with doing what you want.


Sounds in the darkening forest. Ice is a heel. Winter headlong with forty bucks. Dive into bush, fall through holes, miss nets. Witch hidden through pale grasses swinging. Crooked and Left, pleated and begged. Wind is a full pleat. Snow is a fur collar. Ice is a high heel and so is marble. Your body next to me in the dark theatre is a comfort, a relief. The men attend to the music at the party. Smoothly DJ-ing vinyl. The women relax and dance in it.


The river moves her own stones and they are the vertebrae of your spine.


Rejection of continuity is dance. An ahistorical body. Memory lapse removes inscriptions on the body created by the violence of memory enforced by language. Embrace of continuity is dance. Rejection of continuity is dance.


Stutter the space. The space wants you. Conjure the mess of Nature. Rumple of pink is a peony, red stab is a rose petal on shallow dirty water, stock still surface, floating pine needles, the remains of a bee and soil from one rubber boot. Pinecone spines and a twist of

feathers where a bird once lived in rust-coloured branches, creaking. Gobbling through town collapse in Chinatown among tea and Red, beside turquoise spools of thread. Stutter the space. When it is all over, crawl into bed. Become the bedclothes, let the ice break, sit outside in winter.


Distort and extenuate time; forget technique to create faltering bodies; non-productive heresies against capitalism. There is no face to guide you through a plot but the body asks questions. Lapse, warp, drift, distort time. You are becoming pollen. You are becoming stone. You are becoming clay. You are becoming lightning. The space wants you.


Entrust the dance to be the accumulation and collection of those temporary and lasting changes in time and space; to be the holster of cultural memory and agent of active forgetting.


He told me, “It is not a method. It is a kind of idea to be reached. There must be a revolution which people always consider but which has not started yet. It is an incessant revolution, without a pause. It is a revolution which one never thinks about”. Absorbed in the possibilities and tasks at hand, moment by moment, he was forgetting with each gesture.


en Français: Silence. Silence. Silence.


Silence fini.

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Kwanlin Dün and Taa'an Kwächän nations.

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