Recorded during Hurricane Sandy with a mattress against a window, candles, two torches, batteries, a sink full of water, some wine, cigars pourquoi pas, and a bag on a ledge by the door with my passport, a phone, a wallet, a book of poems by Nina Cassian (whose number I find a few days later, I call, we meet, we drink bourbon at two in the afternoon, what can I say, heaven) and some loose change after having spoken to my father on the phone briefly, telling him, Hey, it’s ok, I’m a New Yorker. They’re telling us to keep the phone lines free, so we say good-bye and I’ll call you tomorrow and I reach for the guitar, play as I am pressed to record.
Today, Florian’s daughter Zoe is an artist not in residence. Two weeks ago she drew a drawing with coloured chalk that filled the whole cross roads and just as I thought it, she did it; I turn as I wait for my cup of coffee and see her dance inside, beyond lines, shapes and sizes out into the road – this is sunday so few cars – and there’s Zoe, doing her movement research called “I Colour In“. Last time we met, she was doing movement research on a ground floor window ledge and I was late for work and I was wrestling with a bike lock with coffee and hands the colour of ice cubes and there was Zoe in the corner of my eye, twirling in a pink dress singing and I almost dared to join. Today, the artist is not present. Steiner‘s is mostly quiet and so the coffee is to go. Yesterday, I met a cellist at the Neuenheimer Markt whose handshake sealed a deal we made to make a dance piece about a love letter torn up on the inside. Anna-Maria, from the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg who bears witness encourages us to perform at the new Choreographisches Centrum and we promise to make it happen. The American girl, who has come from Florida to intern at the Theater, is wearing a red beret and is standing next to Anna-Maria and says she is going to the Frankfurt Book Fair on sunday because on the last day, you get to buy the books, unlike the day before, when I was there and all I could do was devour with my eyes only…or as the saying goes…juste pour le plaisir des yeux. As we part, we shake on the love of books, that the internet ether may never replace nor erase, that amour fou that reminds us not to unlearn our three ‘R’s; read to write to read a train time table whilst you do the arithmetic to calculate what you save during off peak hours so you can spend more on books to prop you up at a coffee table to rest last orders legs during those early to rise mornings when artist dancers like Zoe are missing in action to kick start the day into nine to five fast forward fouettés, Max Planck style.
Antonio Gnecchi Ruscone‘s exhibition, Perpetuum Immobile, “…l’attimo fermato per sempre…” is an installation of sculptures and of drawings amongst kindred spirits of shoes made in italy, by hand by Moreschi, the effect of which is a sumptuous 3D surround sound of silence when the momentary absence of your breath refuses to go unnoticed. What can I say other than you had to be there, you can still be there for another ten days hence and then onto Rome to see the sculptures, the drawings and a film I made for the exhibition which runs on a loop. Odd feeling that, to see my film play over and over admidst people who come and go, and not one talks of Michelangelo. No need. As Giuliano said earlier as he drove me to my first meeting near the Duomo, “You can’t live from the past. You need to live now, no?” I agree to disagree, then I agree a little and then alot as we reconcile as we come as we go at a moment’s notice that I archive days later as elliptically ephemeral on my way to the Frankfurt Book Fair as I stand in line for a cab and think quite possibly, now is all we ever really need and is the only conditio sine qua non we should never leave home without. That’s also the sense and the message of Gnecchi Ruscone’s work: the passo dopo passo of the dance that is ora o mai pìu or now or never.
So we road trip our way from Milan to Florence to Milan see a performance of Giselle choreographed by Giorgio Mancini at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino which is a glass half empty or half full of people who have come to see an appearance that is under the hammer of receivership of last orders. To my left, I have a voice over of subtitles from Antonio and to my right, for a few moments a man called Patrick to whom I say, “We need to create to resist…” Fighting words for a cause that appears lost in a commotion that is on and off stage from left to right. We regroup later at an after show party in an apartment with red walls and paintings that I do not see as I am speaking to Jean-Claude, who directs the dance program of the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse Lyon (CNSDM) who is telling me about the moment he understood what dance was and I smile and say, that happened to me, here at the Maggio Fiorentino, a piece by Béjart for the Tokyo Ballet in 2004 and I saw a dancer cross the stage to jump onto a table and I heard it before I saw it and said to Alexandre afterwards, immediately, “I want to do that.” And that’s what I did although unlike Jean-Claude, I did not know what “that” was. I still don’t, not exactly; but I know it when I see it and will need to go on seeing it to know it, while stocks last.
A moment to take note of a day to commemorate German (Re) Unification. We’re waiting for Steiner’s to open so that we can join the Heidelberg transcription for all things Hipster which makes an absence grows fonder heart yearn for all Stadt, Land, Meer out from left field beyond the Brooklyn Bridge where the Dodgers left coffee stained home runs that lurked behind the bleachers of ball parks of Elysium sunny side up after dark. The wind drives your collar upwards to inwards as you dig into the pedals of a bike you bought from the earnest Hegelian and you cycle down a one-way street ContreSens after your parting shot glance to the swings that sway ricochets, “Does Mutti know you’re out?”
Before I leave for Frankfurt, five year old Aditi, who dances every day for me, making up new pieces about princesses, a good queen, a fairy and a witch who sneezes at the slightest hint of fairy dust jumps into my arms to say good-bye as she is returning to Toronto. Aditi, the goddess in pink, who asked me the first day we met whether I knew ballet: “Do you know ballet?”, she asks. “Yes.”, I say. “Do you know the rules?” “Yes.” “Do you know ALL the rules.” “Yes.”, I say, mentally crossing my fingers behind my back. “So you will teach me ballet. Every day.” This is, as it turns out, what we do during my coffee breaks at the Max Planck Institute. Sometimes I am the dance teacher. Sometimes a mere minion in the corps de ballet; occasionally I am granted a short solo. “Hey Miriam!”, says Aditi before she leaves,”We need to work on our solos and then we can work on our book project!” Then she asks me where I am going. I say “Frankfurt”. “Why?” she asks. I know better than to be vague with Aditi, so I say, “To see a dance piece by William Forsythe.” Aditi looks wide eyed and suddenly I realise that I might have a stowaway in my overnight bag. So instead of saying good-bye, I say, “Remember these two names: Baryshnikov and Forsythe. Repeat after me, Baryshnikov and Forsythe.” And she does, she repeats it a couple of times and hops out of my arms to go to a balcony from where she can wave. It is hours later, as I am watching “Clouds after Cranach”, and I realise I may as well have added, “A way home.” Perhaps Aditi is too young to understand that yet. Though I asked her when she told me we needed to work on our solos…”What’s a solo?” And Aditi looks at me with great patience and speaks slowly and serenely, “Something you do on your own.” I see the dancers before me in a space that is second skin-like and realise this is a night for telegrams, to Aditi, to friends and family in France, Italy and at BAC in New York and a note to self: all of me is here, this place-like home. (don’t ever STOP to search). And I think: a solo is something you may do on your own or you may also be accompanied. You just need to know how to look for where.