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When ‘About It’ Is Not Enough to Mean ‘It’

Image credit: Photo by Patrick Beelaert; in the picture, forefront: Julyen Hamilton; background, from left to right: Giacomo Calabrese, Carla Onni, Marta Reig Torres, Valentina Kaplan, Ursula Sabatin, Lavinia Cascone, Bettina Neuhaus, Lieve Hermans and Antonio de la FeImage credit: Photo by Patrick Beelaert; in the picture, forefront: Julyen Hamilton; background, from left to right: Giacomo Calabrese, Carla Onni, Marta Reig Torres, Valentina Kaplan, Ursula Sabatin, Lavinia Cascone, Bettina Neuhaus, Lieve Hermans and Antonio de la Fe

I have always struggled to understand conflicting ideas, even if these conflicts are only when comparing different languages.

Let me give you a few examples:

My mother tongue is Spanish and for us, the Spaniards, The Sun is male and The Moon is female (not just conceptually but grammatically; it may have to do with the fact that in the greco-roman mythology The God Sun is a man and The Goddess Moon is a woman, but in a way this could be understood as irrelevant for the grammar). However, in German The Sun (Die Sonne) is grammatically female and The Moon (Der Mond) is grammatically male (I should imagine it is also conceptually so, but again this is somehow irrelevant for grammar).

Another case is the difference between the concepts of Country and Nation in English and in Spanish. The differences have brought me into problematic situations more than once, and this is because the words País (Spanish for Country) and Nación (Spanish for Nation) practically have opposite meanings to their English counterparts. In a way, one could think that we mistranslate them, but the general consensus is that we don’t. And still, I have been told off a few times when claiming that England isn’t a country but a nation, and that the country is the UK. My rationale behind it being that in Spanish the country (The Kingdom of Spain) is formed by 4 nations (although this statement can get complicated because after Catalonian, Galician and Basque it is hard to reduce everybody else into on common nationality of Spanish).

But could it be that the problem is that all of these conflicting situations are created by discourses “about it” instead of arriving to “it.” It’s hard to decide what’s my next sentence here.

How can we arrive to “it” without discussing it through discourses “about it”? What other ways we have to share it? Is there at all an “it” in previous discourse?

For the last 2 weeks I have been in the Catalonian countryside surrounded by flags that say (in English) “WE WANT TO VOTE”; by locals that refuse to speak to me in Spanish, even if their Spanish is better than their English and have resorted again to Catalan when they didn’t know how to finish their sentences; by a group of international performing artists, most of who are able speakers in at least 3 languages adding to a total of 10 within the whole group; and by a teacher, English by birth and with Scottish hair, who shared with us his musings about today’s referendum but also asked us to get to work and dare to deal with improvisation.

Improvisation, a tool which is used to create pieces, mainly choreographies, but is also understood within the tradition of The Theatre.

We worked on getting into “it”: the work, instead of staying at a level of worrying “about it”. We were ask to understand the essence of things: to work within the physiological intelligence of the body, bringing the mind of the body (à la Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen yet not claiming Body-Mind Centering®) down to the feet and into the floor, daring to listen to the body and to the whole in each instant as each place in each moment has the key of what’s meant to happen next.

I have a problem with the concept of essence but at the same time find it liberating. It makes me think, as we were reminded during this workshop I took in Catalonian lands, that although at a level of aboutness two intellectualised ideas may be conflicting, at a level of their suchness both discourses could be right within their own logics. One thing can exist in addition to the other rather than exist instead of the other.

Now I’m back in London and I’m already missing the working on “it”. Not just as a dancer… in fact what I miss the most is the working around me in the whole world in which we live. It seams that we are all being brought into “aboutness” and into the conflicts arising from it, the fear and the suffering.

I’m not saying that there is an easy solution or that the “about” should be scrapped altogether. I will just dare to continue thinking “about it” and working on “it”, in my individual responsibility for everything that’s happening around me in the whole world.

I’ll keep my eyes open, all of them.

The workshop mentioned in this post is “Dance Technique and Improvisation,” taught every September by Julyen Hamilton in Arlequi (Spain).

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