As a non-hierarchical* collective* of seven artistic directors that centers collaboration* and thoughtful risk* and makes decisions based on consensus*, we are continually investigating and interrogating our beliefs. Below is a glossary of words we’ve been defining and redefining for ourselves and in relation to Red Eye, an artist-led* organization since 1983. We approached this invitation* with a desire to share our process* with our community*, to show how our ideas may at times conflict or cohere—but they add up to something together. As we prepare to open a new space* for contemporary* performance in the coming months, we will return to these definitions, revising them as we activate them with you in real, live space and time.
How do we continue to live in that same community with those we've harmed? How do we allow for wrongs to be healed or healing? Noun or verb? An end goal or a process? Both? (TL)
Art becomes its fullest expression when led by the impulse and guidance of the maker. In the context of arts organizations, having artists in leadership positions is beneficial; they tend to understand the value and necessity for process. At Red Eye, we strive to imbue our administrative work as an extension of our art-making. (HF)
Center big, important questions at the heart of what you do. If you've answered the question, it wasn't big enough. Use your work to "make better." And the folks who commit to that, those are the artists. (AD)
A word that funders troll you with and then hogtie you into defining it (sometimes several different ways.) During the several hours of wordsmithing, you are engaged to play project grant whack-a-mole and then asked to prove (in 250 characters) that it exists for you as you say, while not totally getting what you say. It is the goalpost that is nudged so consistently, mid-play, you didn’t realize it moved at all. My people are not a monolith. (VO)
It’s not what you thought it would be. (EG)
Always harder than you expect, even when (maybe especially when) you deeply love everybody involved. Patience, resourcefulness, interdependency, constant deliberate anticipation for the sake of care. Something bigger, or maybe more saturated, or more nuanced, than what you could ever do alone. (RJ)
A beautiful alchemy of dissonance and alignment that leads to a found shared aesthetic. An opportunity to learn. (HF)
No “techniques,” no “systems,” no “We did this before,” or “This is how we always do it…” It's a shared process that is rooted in the alchemy between the folks who are working together, and it changes as the alchemy changes. Nothing is set. (AD)
It’s gorgeous, and sometimes I just don’t. (VO)
The movement of beings with different but overlapping values working together toward a shared goal or purpose.
“Is anyone going to respond to that email?” (JW)
As in an organizational structure—folks take responsibility for the actions of the others in the collective, take responsibility for their own actions in relationship to the collective, and work together to make this possible in a way that is supportive of all involved. (AD)
Make space to unearth the opinions, assumptions, ideas, objections, implicit bias, unspoken subtexts, passions, emotions, hidden reactions, and histories of a particular [xxxxxxx], inclusive of those gathered, and find a way forward in a way that honors both those that hold the responsibility and those that are affected. (AD)
I spent many years trying to make my work as “of the moment”, as “in the exact time” as possible. Then I was abruptly informed that “we” (the field of contemporary dance) had spent the last 10 years working out this question and that “we” had decided that the contemporary is something that is not of its time at all. Now I think it does have to do with something I name as “now,” but the now is long, and it’s in motion, and it contains everything that has come before as well as everything that may come after. Contemporary includes a responsibility to identify what we don’t want to keep around anymore and devise another way of using it. These things never leave but they might get recycled. At the moment I’m into contemporary as compost. (EG)
It matters to you and is important enough to you to seek to bring others in it. (AD)
What's happening now that is at least partly relating to, engaging with, and/or processing other things that are happening now. As opposed to things happening now that are only referencing things that happened before?
“Is everything contemporary, or just cool stuff? Or just uncool stuff? Am I cool?” (JW)
If used to describe performance work—like brave, powerful, new, innovative etc (you get the picture)—it’s supposed to be work that stands out in the field and is able to speak to the present moment and be in relationship with the field-at-large. It is a fine word except it isn’t always attributed to some populations of people whose work is actually contemporary and words like “brave” and “innovative” overcompensate. See “Equity.” (VO)
It should be easier than this. Because it’s obvious. Sometimes it feels like fighting for my life, sometimes it’s trying your best to clean up someone else’s mess over and over and over and over again. Racism, capitalism, patriarchy, et al. are just kicking people in the mouth, all the damn time. We gotta strive to figure out how to chop ‘em off at the legs. (TL)
I initially wrote about wanting to compost this word; so much financial connotation, I want better, more specific, more vivid language to get at the (divergent) things it gets thrown around to describe. But I think I also was partly avoiding the task of articulation, given the deep ache for all I wish this word could hold, for the world that we want to live in, for the grief of needing to fight so hard for it over so many generations. Today I'm thinking about equity as a relative of love, as a verb more than a noun, as an ongoing action. (RJ)
It is so painful because I don’t know what it would actually be like to feel it, expect it, and be entitled to it, but I hope that the systems we have and know can bend, twist, and be reborn to support and accommodate all notions of equity. (VO)
A process that requires a feedback loop. Not an aesthetic but a method. Art as pseudoscience, because there is no objectivity: make a proposal, test it in a lab or in real-world conditions, collect the feedback, share out, reposition, repeat, repeat, repeat. (EG)
This word feels so fraught. Lately I prefer “forming.” (RJ)
The word acknowledges that there are disciplines that some in our society have created within, into which people and areas of knowledge are organized. It suggests that there are specific branches of research, process, practice, craft and knowledge that people can use to relate to the other and that can also stand alone. It shouldn’t be this way. Get out while you can. As Lauryn Hill says: “Everything is Everything.” Yup. (VO)
Burn it all to the ground. Do things with passion and intention and rigor. A “discipline” is shit someone already figured out and named and codified and is a dead process of learning. (AD)
I personally have no need for this word, because I think dance as a discipline can already include any action or form that arises in relation to it. Dance is not just movement. Just because there is text does not mean it’s theater. I don’t want to make assumptions or reductions about how dance (or anything) should look; I do want to be specific about lines of influence. (EG)
Working with and within multiple forms with an intention that the component forms impact and influence each other to such a degree that they start to lose their edges, blur together, and something new emerges. This is contrasted with multidisciplinary, which just means many disciplines co-existing.
When dance panels like your use of text and when theater panels like your dancing. Subsequently, many funders don’t really fund this type of art-making. So that’s cool. (JW)
Open doors. Open arms. Enhanced when it includes food, beverage, art, and conversation. (HF)
The act of offering.
That glint in your eye as you look back at me? (JW)
If you have a question, I invite you to answer it. (EG)
A corporate nonsense word that values speed and efficiency over impact and thoughtfulness. (TL)
Like a cat. I am currently facilitating two cats as they learn to share space, and let’s just say, it is astounding to me how lightly and quickly they can fly across a room. Plus they have free floating collarbones and can take on so many different shapes! (RJ)
No one and everyone is in charge. When it works: asks over orders, all hands on deck, making light work. Sometimes it's a silent game of "not it." Only sometimes, though. (TL)
It is a beautiful endeavour, a practical illusion that will give you philosophical night tremors. Over a period of a time, it may be possible for you to tell yourself that it happens more often than you know because of what you don’t know. Have you ever tried to draw a straight line with a free hand? It is a beautiful endeavour. (VO)
I would rather say horizontal, a way of imagining, experiencing and/or organizing the world as if everyone/thing is as unimportant as everyone/thing else.
Fuck yeah. (JW)
In movement. In evolution. In collaboration with other artists in the room and those that came before. A dance of ideas, efforts, gestures that keep us searching to reach our vision(s). (HF)
This might hurt, but you have to try anyway. (RJ)
Potential of failure. I have no interest in physical or emotional danger. (TL)
Sits at the core of the artistic process. It teeters in vibration with fear, motivation, vision, and the acceptance of failure. (HF)
Doing something that doesn't feel comfortable, but does feel right.
That strategy board game I always watched my cousins play when I was a kid. (JW)
We often say “space” when we mean “time.” “I’m looking for space in my calendar.” Space is capacity and possibility and potential. “I want to make space for this conversation.” Space can mean people; space can mean something beyond property. (EG)
Not a void. It’s tethered to location and architecture, but really it’s a convergence of possibility. (TL)