Finding home in a homepage -  an essay about dance, video and the making of this website

me. hi.

(its an old picture).

Last year I worked again with dancer/choreograph-er Frey Faust for the first time in years. As we were walking home one night, he said to me, "Robert, I've decided to move back home." We went on a few steps and then I suddenly remembered something: "But Frey," I said, "you don't have a home." He thought a moment and then said, "All the more reason to go."

The web designer Julia Jüstel and I made this website in the Summer of 2007.  My warm thanks to her -- and while im thanking -- I have to say it to our wonderful board of directors who are simply the best in the world! Thank you also to Mathias Reinhardt for his long-running support and finally to the homepage translators.

One thing that might seem obvious, but which struck me again and again as we worked is how little this has to do with dance! Even a website about a dance company -- even one with 600 videos -- is only marginally _about_ dance.

Well, Duh. A web site can't plie or twist or rebound out of the floor. It doesn't breathe. The thing about videos is that they _remind_ you of dance, but they are not dance. Its like that thing that happens when you watch a really good dancer, how your muscles twitch. Its the feeling of being a hair's breath away -- its exciting, but it is also like an itch you can't quite scratch.

For me this website represents the end of a big chapter and the start of the next. Making it was like going into anlysis: If you're going to re-invent yourself, then its good to have an idea of where you've been!

Not that I want to leave it all behind. Actually its more the contrary. I thought when I started digitizing all these old videos that I would hate seeing them. I really feared it would make me sick.  The surprise was that it did not.  Even if I didn't have the compositional skill to always carry it off, I can see what we had in mind -- what was _behind_ the work, as it were; what was it that drove me to make it in the first place.

I mean, sure, a lot of it was crap. But here and there is an idea and i think, hey, thats damn good!  And, while I am not a big fan of my own dancing, I am a huge fan of others in the company... I remember how much we struggled, how rarely satisfied we were and yet looking back now, it seems so wonderful! !!

A New Leaf

Starting a couple of years ago, I started having this feeling that Palindrome needed a change. My work with Frieder and his computer programs was continuing to yield successes, commercial and otherwise, but our work together was confusing me artistically. On the one hand I felt lucky: how many choreographers can claim access to such a constant supply of remarkable technological devices!

But this was part of the problem!  He would come up with new and still newer systems and I was still trying to make sense out of technologies from 5 years old -- what to an engineer is Schnee von gestern (german for "yesterday's snow") and I started to have the feeling that it was my job to put technology on stage, rather than make art.

So where to?  First of all, Palindrome will still work with science and technology -- though perhaps in different ways than before. I doubt the computer will ever be a theme again. For 2007, we are working on a couple of things... they are described in the video section of the website.

The Palindrome of the future will be simpler and more focused artistically.

Do you know the Truffaut film, "Shoot the Piano Player"? In the final scene our hero, who was once a concert pianist, is playing in a shabby bar and he is thinking to himself how only music has been true to him through the years. You can interpret the scene as tragic, but I don't see it that way. There is nothing tragic about playing in a bar instead of a concert hall, at least not from the standpoint of the artist. Personally, I have never felt much of a difference between dancing for 700 people, or 70.  Or 7. Either way you can be nervous as hell or completely relaxed. You can be on or off.  Either way when you dance well and the work is good, well, thats it.

And when I go to the studio to choreograph my palms sweat and I feel nervous. Every time. And each day when the work is done I sing like an idiot. I tell you, it doesn't depend on the scale of the production, the pay or what the piece is about. It also doesn't depend on who, if anyone, I am working with. So... what... is... it?

Yes, well, if I knew that, I probably wouldn't need to do it. You think its intractable?  Ha ha- I'll let you know when I figure it out.

3.August 2007

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