This photo was taken years ago when I was visiting Susan Rethorst in Amsterdam. We were preparing dinner and laughing together - a true moment of friendship and pleasure, the kind of pleasure that comes from simple things like cooking, telling stories and preparing the table for a meal.
Susan Rethorst's book has just been released. At the time of this photo, we were two years into working on it. A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings is part autobiography, part philosophy about her life working as a choreographer and teacher in America and Europe. She writes:
"A Choreographic Mind began to take shape as I wrote out my thoughts in an attempt to make sense of the wall of difference I encountered on a move to Europe when I was in my forties. My efforts to untangle the assumptions I saw around me necessitated a backward look into the origins of my own assumptions and influences, interior and exterior, nature and nurture. The book begins as I search my childscape for memories that shed light on the first inklings of my choreographic mind, and broadens out to life in the studio and then to the larger world of dance and its potentialities. These essays draw on my own life and experience to create a context for the reader and further the emphasis on what many of my students have termed a “practical philosophy” of choreographic thought. It is a subjective account of how dance making brings the maker, and ideally the viewer, to understandings of self and the body’s mind."
"...dance making brings the maker, and ideally the viewer, to understandings of self and the body’s mind." Yes.
Working on this book with Susan has helped me to understand how this is true. As a choreographer myself, I understand how "making is a form of thought" (as Susan writes), one that leads you further into yourself - not away - and brings you to an understanding of your true nature. Perhaps more importantly (and relevant to people who practice any of the physical/meditative arts), making with the body as your point of inquiry is a form of thought, one that reveals, heals and generates new knowledge for more than just the movement maker.
So what is a choreographic mind? I encourage you to get the book and find out firsthand. Susan writes about it brilliantly. Based on my own experience, a choreographic mind is one that perceives space, objects and sensations in equal proportion to people and their emotional landscape. Through that perception, they draw relationships, read movement and make meaning with movement. It is a mind that is acutely aware of how all of an environment is operating and speaking, and the meaningfulness that can be derived and experienced therein.
My aunt and I actually talked about this earlier this year. We excitedly confessed that we would be good at each others job. She is a graphic designer. She makes beautiful books. I'm an editor and choreographer. We talked about our ability, and passion, to craft arcs of thought over time that create unique, visual experiences for the viewer.
A sense. An intuition. A way of seeing the world. A way of being in the world. The way you were born into this world. This is a choreographic mind.
| What is a choreographic mind for you? How would you define it?