You don’t have to be so nice to the audience…

This is what one of my favorite choreographers in New York told me after she saw my performance “Zombie Aporia.” I understand what she means. The piece is very clear, one concept is displayed very transparently, and then another concept is displayed, and then another, and the audience can follow what is happening without too many questions like “what are they doing?” (although, I must say that there are a few questions like that.) Overall the piece communicates its ideas very straightforwardly, even if the performative tasks that we do are very complex and multi-layered. In some ways, I regard this as a positive aspect of the piece. I would rather make a clear proposal than an obscure, hermetic exercise that is completely closed off from the audience. But I do think that a performance should unsettle the audience. I don’t want to be pointlessly provocative, but I do want there to be a certain degree of cruelty or aggression. I myself enjoy pieces that are not all shiny happy people holding hands, but which contain a certain amount of disturbance and unease. I am not primarily interested in giving the audience something that gives easy pleasure, but something which forces one to be active, to think, perhaps to be bored sometimes. Something which tests, and something which unsettles.

After a work in progress showing of “Gaze is a Gap is a Ghost,” an audience member commented that the piece was very lonely and also a lot of fun. (Someone else commented that this sounded like a description of his life.) I think this is a strong comment, and I have been trying to push this aspect of the piece even further, the dualism of fun and loneliness. Because I don’t want the piece to be all frivolous fun and games, and I also don’t want it to be utterly sad and lonely. I want both of these two poles, fun and loneliness, to exist side by side, and generate a friction between them. The kind of performance that I appreciate, and the kind of performance that I want to make, is playful, but it also leaves you with some sense of dissatisfaction. With questions which still haven’t been answered. Something without an easy answer or solution; something which poses a problem which remains after the piece is over, a difficulty which still has to be dealt with. Because there are always still problems and questions that remain to be dealt with.

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About Daniel Linehan

Daniel Linehan worked as a dancer and choreographer in New York before moving to Brussels in 2008, where he completed the Research Cycle at PARTS. As a performer, Linehan has worked internationally with Miguel Gutierrez, Big Art Group, and Michael Helland. His choreography has been presented at numerous venues and festivals including New York, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and Amsterdam. He presented Not About Everything and Zombie Aporia at Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Theatre in 2011 and 2012, and returns in 2013 with a Sadler’s Wells co-commission work A Gaze is A Gap is a Ghost.

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