As it is coming up to New Year, I am using this blog to wrap up some recent thoughts / reading / viewing. I will discuss Happy by Derren Brown, choreographic tips I learned from watching an ensemble circus work by Nico Monaco and a clip of It’s My Body by performance artist Karen Finley.


As a high functioning depressive who is an absolute master of masking visible signs of depression, I often read books about happiness in an attempt to understand more about its position in my life. Happy by Derren Brown, although somewhat morbid and long winded towards the end, is probably the least pretentious self-help book I have read so far. Brown articulates what it really takes to be “happy” by analyzing happiness scammers and other self-help books that suggest we should only think positive thoughts. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, of which I have read and found useful for goal setting, is one of those books. It pretty much encourages the notion that what you think is what you attract. Thus if you don’t want deleterious things to happen you should not think negatively. I quickly learned that this type of overt optimism can be as detrimental as sitting in pessimism. Mainly because if one is forced to live in a state of optimism that can only be created though their own thoughts and actions, what happens when something bad does actually happen? I can tell you from experience that you will be left feeling more anxious and helpless than before.  When things didn’t go as I had “thought” I felt intense guilt, like I should have been more positive.

Another enjoyment I found from reading this text, was Brown’s intelligence, wittiness and his ability to weave so many different ideas into one piece. I appreciated his stance on art because it aligns exactly with how I view my own artistic process.

“An artist sees the world and notices a difference between how she feels it should be and how it actually is. The work of art she creates is a way of bridging the gap: a physical manifestation of that discrepancy. The emotions she experiences, which might be very pleasant and far from anger, are nonetheless channeled into something constructive, and the observer of the final piece might be challenged to pay attention to the issues in question and align himself with the artist’s motivation” (p.220).

Karen Finley

This powerful piece of preacher like commentary on women making choices about their own body is an example of the quote above.

Ensemble Circus – Circle, Academy of Circus and Performance Art, Nico Monaco

Still vaguely in line with the above, this work is based on survival and transcendence (Maslow, 1943). I absolutely loved the ever transforming aerial equipment; rope, diablo, Chinese pole, straps, and flying pole. Each one moved as part an ensemble of five men and they all worked together to create fluid transitions between each section of the work. More for my own memory I am bullet pointing a few notes for future choreographic consideration.

  • The pole drops as the bodies do.
  • Energy from the equipment should fuel bodily movement in some way or another.
  • When the apparatus is passed from person to person, this is effective in itself and does not need to be supported with complex movement.
  • Embodying the position of the object, its timing and space covered is engaging.
  • Although it is great to see aerial performers up high, it is so beautiful and almost more daring, when their bodies just skim the floor.
  • Movement created on and for the equipment can be further developed in floor movement (only if it is justified).

Happy New Year!

Rowena x


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