Thursday, September 28, 2017

Charles Gushue, Dancer & Choreographer, Tells His Story


Photo Credit - Alexis Iammarino

First, let me say that I think ideally I would spread this blog post out scattered across a room connected by threads, so that as you pull on one, various parts of it come towards you, or perhaps you pull yourself towards it, but instead it is laid out in an order, obscene amounts of parenthetical or aside information, with a structure that shifts as it appears.

(I wrote above the word first but actually I wrote this last, well not quite last as I am still writing and now will jump back down to the writing about audience which may or may not still be there at the time you are reading this.)

         — everything cast off becomes through its irrelevance, relevant, that is how I try
         and make my dances—

Photo Credit - Leslie Rogers 

My mother likes to tell a story that as a small toddler, before I was really even talking, I would entertain the many “adults” surrounding me by choreographing them around the room by pointing. I like to think that since then I’ve become much less dictatorial in my approach to choreography but no less particular (shout out to my sisters).

Photo Credit - Katherine Helen Fisher 


(I first wrote and then deleted a similar anecdote whose truth I’m equally unsure of about an elementary school teacher of mine who either told my parents that now they would have to listen to me or compared me to Orson Welles)

I didn’t write about this second anecdote, because I’m not sure I’d very much like to be compared to Orson Welles, although I guess now I have written about it so I might as well tell you that I think it had something do with me wanting to turn my entire 4th grade (I have no idea if it was actually 4th grade) classroom into a small town and I tried to draft my classmates into creating paper mailboxes to put on all their desks (I think I probably just wanted to receive mail)—


Photo Credit - Carlos Funn

In my most recent evening length work “The Augur and The Amateurs,” which I created while an MFA student at the University of Michigan from 2014 - 2016, I sought to destabilize my or any authority over the dance work.  I wanted to create a dance work that gestured toward the specific without expressing anything too reifiable.

(I just had to Google if this was a word, the first thing that came up was some coding jargon)

—I took some coding when I was homeschooled (grades 6-8), not much if any of it stuck except for the hours and hours I spent in literary-themed text-based virtual realities called MOOs—)

It is not that I think everything is open to interpretation, It’s not the work is what it is. I find nothing more maddening than an artist who coyly says “well what do YOU think it means” It’s just that whatever things I was thinking about, whatever creative devices I was employing, whatever feels important about the dance to me, isn’t itself the dance, and doesn’t live inside the dance.

It’s not that I have secret meanings that I don’t want an audience to know about, I am more than happy to talk about all of the various tributaries of intentional (and otherwise) research and thoughts and practices that I tumbled through as I make my work.

         —AUDIENCE! is incredibly important to me, so much so that my Thesis Chair, 
         Clare Croft, was  afraid that I had gotten it tattooed on my arm and had fallen or 
         been pushed off the deep end.—

(I actually got the word Adventure tattooed on my arm surround my directional symbols from Labanotation, it was a friend tattoo with Alain Paradis)

Photo Credit - Kirk Donaldson

It is more that I want an audience to not even think to ask the question of whether or not they “got it.” (this sentence originally appeared earlier in this piece of writing but I felt it made a passable ending instead)
  

Photo Credit – Charles Gushue

This is Week 38 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Charles’ story today. To connect with Charles and see more of his work, please visit the following links: