Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts on Negypt

Brandon in Negypt I saw Negypt twice this weekend. I made it a point to do so, in fact, because it took me two times to actually collect my thoughts on it. The first time I sat in the front row, the second I sat almost at the back, so that I could see others' reactions.

While I'm not a dancer and am not really well-versed in all the trends and schools of thought that dance is composed of, it's impossible to think that, even without a background in dance, I might have nothing to say about Negypt. One things for sure: whether you liked it, hated it, thought it was interesting or walked out of the show (I think one or two people did on Saturady), it's impossible to walk away from it without a reaction.

Personally, I really enjoyed it—even though I doubt many people would say the piece is not "enjoyable". The movement was a lot of convulsive, repetitive motions, highly emotive yet silent, and usually self-defeating. Hence the kind of movement Negypt is composed of, as it is self-described: "Deletist".

Some might find the idea to be pretentious or overthought. For me, such movements have their time and they place, and, when properly placed, can have great meaning. I appreciate it in that way. There were certain sections of the piece that I found to be downright peaceful. There is a certain place in the mind that is full of emptiness, and a simple state where one accepts that there is a profound lacking—and certain sections of Negypt evoked that place, which I know in my own mind as part of that which harbors the Muse. Negypt brought these hidden places to life in a palpable manner, palpable enough to remind me what it actually was like to exist in those places, and to absorb their reality.

However, there is a point where Negypt stops and does not go beyond. It visits that place of emptiness, that kind of nihilistic angst and the fact that the emptiness will not go away—but it stays there. I would dare to say that it wallows there, and is so introspective that its own angstiness, as beautifully expressed as it is, shows another kind of lacking—a lacking of redemption.

This is where people's various stages of personal growth and belief come into play. At a certain point you can't judge another person nor their work if they or it is nothing but honest—and Negypt certainly was. But, to use an analogy, if one is to truly embrace Taoism, for example, they can't just stay in the black/ying, they also have to venture into the white/yang. Negypt embraces the dark, but is so shocked by that embrace that it can't let go of it, and in forgetting to let go, refuses to grow from and beyond it. At a very deep and subtle level then, I would venture to say that it's imbalanced. You can't just gaze into the abyss—the abyss will also gaze into you. The pain that is in Negypt can be healed—at least, I believe it can. But it takes a certain measure of acceptance of that pain—and not the kind of acceptance that embraces pain as all that there is, and that's the end of it. It stops short of moving beyond the pain into the world beyond the abyss. If one is to be truly detached from this world, they have to be detached from detachment (it's not the same thing as attachment). That's the paradox of enlightenment—at least, what I've learned from it (I wouldn't claim to be enlightened). To be normal is to be enlightened, to be enlightened is to be normal. After awhile, it looks no different.

If Negypt's goal is to show the nature of enlightenment, according to Taoists and Buddhists (and darkness is part of it), it only presents half of the paradox. But as an intermediary step, a step into the initial darkness before the dawn, it is brilliant and beautiful. It truly does evoke the primal womb, and I would gladly stay there in those spaces if I could—it evokes the khora.

It's just necessary to remember that khora is a creative force as much as it is a destructive one. The movements in Negypt may be futile and self-defeating—the irony is that they have a great potential for peace and healing as well. Unfortunately, this isn't followed through with in the piece. Too often in such angst other side of nature is forgotten—and often it becomes only another form of blindness.

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