Embracing the unintelligible / On silence, dance, and speech

by Lara Mimosa Montes

Note: As I was considering the question of Seeking it Outside Poetry, it occured to me that many of my beloved contemporaries were struggling with the same question. Lara Mimosa Montes’s recent move into dance has helped me to consider the questions of silence, movement, and their relation to the work of unlearning. 

Three future dances, or the dance feministic

“The ‘dance feministic,’ as the song calls it, is a defiantly happy shimmy and thrust and a lipsticked grin that won’t give itself away.” Image from sketch of figural movement for dance (1921), Oskar Schlemmer, via Wikimedia Commons.

We are drawn together to march but because we are so many, we cannot march. We can only shuffle off balance, lean, wind our way, press or fall against one another, allow ourselves to be moved, give up our bodies to the swarm. And so we find we are not militant but in motion, a motion we can’t master. 



On Sally Silvers's 'Actual Size'

Photo by Paula Court.

Actual Size / Sally Silvers & Dancers / Roulette / Tuesday–Friday / November 4–7 / 2014



You came to see human bodies tonight, but she said this is “holy work and it’s dangerous not to know that ’cause you could die like an animal down here.”[1] She was talking about making dances — pacing back and forth across bridges, riding up and down the block, selling loosies on the corner, walking in the middle of the street. The hazard of movement, of moving and being moved, of knowing that we are affected, that we are affective.

Pina Bausch & Clairice Lispector

The poet's novel

Pina Bausch in "Cafe Müller"
Pina Bausch in "Cafe Müller"

When realism isn’t real, where is a writer to go?  Meaning, the sentence is a construction which feels at least as habitable as the bus which carries a poet to an unfamiliar town, and the couch upon which the poet sleeps later that night.  When realism isn’t enough, isn’t authenticated or represents a fractional or purely outward series of events, poets turn to the body of the sentence upon which to recline, repose, deconstruct and reject any sort of frame which insists upon the “real” being limited to finite perceptions.  A sentence may break, with the force of bodily gesture, something more fluid. When I think of the poet’s novel I think of an oblique truthfulness.  The choreography of Pina Bausch comes to mind, as an example of art which echoes  the interior and bodily aspects of the real.  What is the difference between realism and the real? 

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