Gregory Holt

Gregory Holt is a Philadelphia choreographer, improvisor, and performer. He studied Linguistics and Dance at Swarthmore College, and Movement Research and Performance at the Institute for Dance Art in Linz, Austria, where he teaches dance theory and research methods. He was a 2011 Live Arts Brewery Fellow through the Philadelphia Live Arts

More from Gregory Holt

Boards, Geometry, Choreography

Boards, Geometry, Choreography

As part of the Day of Dance we played with an interactive installation Boards, where long wooden planks disrupt a projection of a still figure aimed at a flat wall.

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I WILL CHOREOGRAPH THIS ESSAY! 10 movements for Susan Rethorst, all in a line.

Why am I making a choreography out of writing? What do I think will happen, what is informing this process, and what does it have to do with Susan Rethorst?

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Spread the word

Postcards from a dance

By Gregory Holt, February 12, 2013

In classes with David Brick of Headlong Dance Theater, he calls attention to three perspectives a dancer can be aware of:
  1. the perspective of what you are seeing, now, from where you are
  2. the perspective of what an audience member would see (seated where ever you choose to put them with your mind)
  3. the overarching, bird's-eye-view perspective- tracking the whole situation from a position outside of it
I think of these as representative of different mental capacities- capacities for perception, projection, and abstraction. The chance to play with them is exhilarating, stimulating, even a little super-human. Sometimes watching dances sucks me into all three- I feel equally caught up in what I'm seeing, what I empathetically understand the performers are experiencing, and in the sense of an unfolding pattern of the entire event. When this happens, the dance becomes more than itself, not because it means anything or represents anything, but because it can give me an experience of the connections between different kinds of awareness.

Susan's dances are specific, intricate, affective. Each gesture is as important when seen as an individual movement as it is when seen as a piece of an unfolding pattern. When Susan talks about zooming in and zooming out, she is talking about a cycle of creation which tracks the material on multiple levels of perception. Walking into her rehearsals at the loft apartment living/studio space of thefidget, I find myself in the middle of a recursive geography- there's a dance in a living room in a dance studio in a living room. This kind of fractal iteration lets the parts and the whole act on each other in a simple equation that leads to infinite complexity. In another recursion, this material is what will become 208 East Broadway Part 5. Part 5! Originally the address of Susan's home and the natural habitat of this living room, 208 East Broadway doesn't exist anymore as such- the referent of this space has been entirely translocated into the reference. If the act of seeing is always an act of seeing-again, the recursions in this process are not chasing recognition and familiarity. This feels more like turning things inside out, groping, sitting with what you thought you knew while exploring some secret side underside. Or maybe the other way around- letting yourself be touched and in so doing discover feeling there, foreign yet familiar.

Entering the process, my point of view becomes enmeshed in the perspectives present. I can't be an outsider. So I bought a disposable camera and asked the dancers to disrupt their insider positions by taking pictures of what they can see at different moments. Other times, I came close to snap a shot of their bodies from the direction their eyes were looking. Looking at these images, the camera is almost palpable. These pictures aren't showing a reality untouched by the viewing of it. Older technologies can be visible to us as ever-newer technologies attempt to achieve invisibility. What is interesting to me is not a pure translation of the dancer's perspective to a viewer, but what happens when the two combine. Overlaying fragments of notes I took, I imagined these postcards coming from the dance.

Wishing you were here! xox

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