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  • Tristan Koepke

On The Horizon: Finally, Fairies!

Updated: Jan 31

In 2009, I had just finished projects with both the Trisha Brown Dance Company and the Limon Dance Company, and was curious about unearthing myself: my personal affectations and rhythmic tendencies that had been hidden under these disparate processes. A haunt-logical inquiry. I filmed a series of short improvisations in response to a score I developed, Levers of Affectation. I learned this movement, now set choreography (with the help of the stellar dancers Renee Copeland and Evy Muench). There was something about the movement that felt optimistic and precious. Trisha Brown’s approach to creating Set and Reset (1983), creating and “setting” material that held onto the original improvisational spirit that initiated the movement, informed my process deeply.[1] I shared the first two minutes of material, titled Fairies, in an informal showing in 2010. However, I soon became distracted with other projects, and was seduced into the world of repertory performance.


Fairies became an important specter of my past: an unfinished project that held an aesthetic and creative future.


Music critic Mark Fisher posthumously released his book of essays exploring hauntology as a “vague but persistent feeling of the past without recalling any specific historical moment” that exists throughout various cultural expressions, artists and artifacts.[2] For Fisher, the past refers not simply to impressions of the past, but more specifically, to the many futures that the past implied. Full of optimism, the past and its specters contain a sense of loss for unrealized retrofuturities.


I propose returning to the landscape of Fairies, and, as a point of entry for developing material for my thesis project for my MFA at the University of Maryland. This new project will premier in late 2021 or early 2022. I will highlight this specter in the present, and employ it as a direct conduit for intertemporal communication. As an effort of thematic amplification, I envision a 30-minute devised performance. I plan to investigate choreographic structures that explore connections and compromise between material developed from Fairies, and other filmed improvisations and creative cul-de-sacs pulled from my archives. Although this work is deeply personal, of me, so to speak, I propose a broader application of the inquiry. A cast of 3-5 dancers who will learn my set material, as well as dance and set their own responses to my original improvisational prompt. They will respond, intervene, and amalgamate the material. This proposed process orientates the work towards creative possibilities of colliding my own dancing body and my cast’s own self-interrogation.

 

Earlier this year, I wrote a note to myself. I wrote, “I’m not sure my memory can be trusted.”

 

[1] Trisha Brown, “Trisha Brown Informance | Jacob’s Pillow Dance 1986,” Filmed 1986 at Jacob’s Pillow. Video, 14:89. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27csx8BGN3Q [2] Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology, and Lost Futures (Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2014), 14.