Metal and Dance to illuminate the psyche
Interdisciplinary Creative Movement
Moonspell’s frontman Fernando Ribeiro and I worked on “Awake” using symbolic imagery and story-telling to invoke emotion and imagination for a shared movement-experiment, and made a simple dance out of the results.
“Humans, as any living organism, strive at the basic biological level to maintain a stable and constant inner state” – Homeostasis (Cannon, 1935).
“Awake… for all is dying, even the dead
We are our Past failing to come back
All of us visionaires
with a rope around our neck”
Awake – Moonspell
We, humans, strive for stability, we attach to our love and need objects, we fancy permanence, and we are terrified of endings.
We tend to be terrified of the unknown, and we feel uneasy towards the idea of impermanence because it signifies death.
We’re vulnerable. We suffer. We’re vulnerable.
We’re vulnerable to the instability of life, vulnerable to change, vulnerable to anxiety, vulnerable to death.
Unable resolve the distress of the human condition, we often live in denial.
But, there’s also so much strength in this vulnerability. It enables us to ‘be’. Accepting this vulnerability helps us to find courage to take a step forward despite the fear.
* * *
I was sunken in those thoughts in the wake of political turmoil, instability and polarization around the world when Moonspell suggested “Awake” to me to choreograph and dance to at their Irreligious 20th year Anniversary concert in Istanbul. We were tremendously happy to have them back here.
I knuckled down to the task: What does awake mean to me? When do I awake?
– That’s after I sleep. Everytime I had fallen asleep, I definitely awoke. (;
– And after every time I had emotionally died, I definitely transformed into a.., new me.
Fernando is quite an open minded and inspiring character. He and I agreed on doing an an interdisciplinary creative movement practice to create a story for the dance. This helped us to find a common feeling and story to relate to, and it also helped us to look within, into our own individual inner worlds to form a genuine and sincere communication.
Interdisciplinary creative movement is an expressive creative process, first of all built on trust and sincerity between partners. Our goal is to experiment with movement, tapping into our unconscious mind and using imagery, symbols and stories. We like to uncover and discover. We experiment in our body, in movements how to be an individual and at the same time to be with (the) other/s.
Moonspell’s “Awake” is a dark song. It surely creates a sense of foreboding that Fernando Ribeiro aptly reflects in his singing. It reminds me of a waste land where “all is dying, even the dead”
The Wasteland by TS Eliot is one of my favorite poems, which I go back to every now and then when life seems like a waste land where “all is dying, even the dead”. In connection with Fernando being an inspiring poet, and as a part of the interdisciplinary creative movement process where participants can utilize and enjoy other art forms for freedom, inspiration and creativity, I started to read The Waste Land again. In line 42 there is an allusion to Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”.
“[…] I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.”
Empty and desolate the sea.
I had studied this poem intensively as a part of my literature class at Stockholm University before I majored in linguistics. The allusions to the opera had intrigued me to watch and learn more about it. It is a famous opera built on the tale of Tristan and Yseult, and influenced by Schopenhauer’s philosophy of Will and Kantian Phenomenon-Noumenon (Phenomenon as the representation of the world, noumenon as the unknowable intrinsic reality). The symbols of Day and Night in the drama represent the outer world and the intrinsic reality respectively. The story is about two lovers and their liebestod/love-death. A willed death. Leaving the world of Day behind, merging united into the Night. The finale is known as Isolde’s Liebestod but in fact Wagner called the prelude liebestod and the finale “Verklärung” (Transfiguration).
Let this opera play in the background for stimulus.
So, we explored the themes of life-death-rebirth/transformation and symbiosis-separation in movement.
And the concepts of Phenomenon (observable fact) and Noumenon (thing-in-itself) gave me the idea to create the dance in two perspectives: outwardly a man and woman dancing, inwardly a philosopher’s feelings and thoughts about Death.
Mental imagery can be defined as a psychological activity that evokes the physical characteristics of an absent object or dynamic event.
It helps to broaden our movement sensation extending beyond the visual to the tactile/kinesthetic and auditory sensations. It awaken us to the awareness of external and internal perceptions by stimulating the mind-body connection.
Some examples of imagery in practice:
- Pretend you are holding hands and dancing with someone you have (a particular feeling) for
- The room has become dark and cold/light and warm.
- You are in front of/behind the curtain of (a non-physical concept). Touch it, what does the texture feel like?
- Hear the footsteps of (an object/concept/symbol) dancing, move to the same rhythm.
* * *
This dark philosopher perhaps exists in every one of us screaming within, singing dark songs about life. Raven is a symbol of Death in many cultures. In the dance, the hybrid Raven with the noose symbolizes the theme of Death in the lyrics, dancing around the philosopher, not as the Grim Reaper, though; but as a reminder of the vulnerability of humankind.
Once this vulnerability is acknowledged, there comes the gift of transformation.
Reading the lyrics of “Awake” one more time, my last sentence will be a common but crucial phrase from existential therapy:
“what would you do if you knew you were going to die next week or next month? How would you live differently?