Overcoming writer’s block, Rebecca Davis, and a call for ribbon.


I don’t really suffer from writer’s block. (I can hear the writers out there sharpening their knives.) I think the main reason I don’t is that when I finish a story or a novel, I immediately look around for something to help prime the pump for the next work. Reading, of course, is always useful. But even moreso is finding something new, something I don’t do myself, something that will force me to think/see/feel with someone else’s vision. Art galleries, films, dance performances.
I came to appreciate dance because of my wife. She is a dancer. When we began dating at the end of the last milleneum I was in grad school working toward my MFA and she was an undergrad pursuing a BFA in dance. I quickly gained an appreciation for it as an artform and a language, and since then have become a great fan and admirer of the choreographers and dancers who make these tremendous works. I learned about dedication the practice of an art from my wife, the persistence and ability work without much if any reward other than the thing itself.
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Recently, as I neared the completion of an early draft of my most recent novel, I had an opportunity to see something I hadn’t seen for several years: my wife dancing. After the birth of our son four years ago she hasn’t had the time. In the past year she’s worked with a friend and collaborator, a woman whose vision and art always floor me: Rebecca Davis. The video and photo above are from her most recently shown work, recorded before an audience at Judson Church in New York City (the show was a part of Movement Research’s Judson Church programming). My wife (second from the front in the video, and on the right in the photo; and yes, I am exceedingly proud of her) and several other wonderful dancers helped Rebecca create a piece that, to me, evokes the mechanistic quailities of our humanity. I was reminded of those machines that run in the background, that age, that threaten to fail due to misuse, dirt, and grime, threatent to fail but never do. Somehow they continue to work and work and work, and maybe not as well, but they work nonetheless. It’s pieces like this that keep me from becoming stuck in my own work. Part of the reason Rebecca’s work strikes me so deeply is that I think we share an aesthetic. I think we are interested in similar ideas. Yet we speak different languages: mine is in words, hers the body. I think that’s fantastic.
And recently I was informed by Rebecca that I have an opportunity to help her make her next statement. She has made a public call for materials needed for her next work. If you are able to help her by sending her cloth or fabric ribbon (yes, ribbon) you would be helping in the creation of art. How cool is that. See below:

Over the last year I was mainly focused on my group piece for performances at Dance Theater Workshop in April and Judson Church in September. But now, I am one month into the process of practicing the solo score five times per week; I have two months to go before performing it December 4-5 at Performance Works NorthWest in Portland, OR.
While [studying dance] in Findhorn, [the Instructor] encouraged us to build our own “frame” for the work. In the past, she found most of the adaptations “too pure” and moving forward she would like to see more of the aesthetic and personality of the performer in the choice of set and costumes. As many of you know, collecting and creating visual markers noting the passage of time are recurring themes in my work. I’ll be weaving a large-scale net constructed from ribbons as my set.
I’d like to invite you to donate any left over cloth or fabric (not paper) ribbon you have from any occasion–birthdays, weddings, baby showers–hideous, beautiful, ordinary, it doesn’t matter. Even if you only have one strand, I’d like to include it in the work. If you’d have something you’d like to donate (you won’t get it back) by November 20th, please let me know. I can make arrangements to pick it up from you or you can mail it to me at the following address:

Rebecca Davis
PO Box 1679
New York, NY 10013

Again, she needs cloth or fabric ribbon, like that pictured here:
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I encourage you to help her if you can. Her work is worth it.

8 thoughts on “Overcoming writer’s block, Rebecca Davis, and a call for ribbon.

  1. Dance is so beautiful. It is like art is movement. How cool that your wife expresses herself this way. Is she in the video?
    Great idea about the costume…I’ll have to see if I have any ribbons or such.

  2. This ribbon thing reminds me of Chris in the Morning on Northern Exposure and the light-sculpture he did – did you ever watch Northern Exposure?
    The dance is very evocative, and I’ll send some ribbon after a big family birthday party this weekend.

  3. Thanks for commenting! Yes, I did watch Northern Exposure – I loved it. And I loved Chris’s art. It was a brilliant way of sneaking modern art into television viewers homes.
    And thanks for thinking of the ribbon!

  4. As I watched this it took me a moment to realize the dancers cannot see each other, nor is there music to help them keep time. They have to be completely on their mark all on their own.
    This reminds me a bit of Steve Reich’s amazing drum works.

  5. Janet, Yes, that’s exactly right. They couldn’t see one another, and they each had to keep count with one another without being able to see. It was not an easy piece, though it looks like a simple movement. From simple steps builds complexity. A wonderful approach for art.

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