Mini story — 18 Feb 2020 — Matthew Day

Don’t wanna rush it
Let the rhythm pull you in
It’s here, so touch it
You know what I’m saying
And I haven’t said a thing
Keep the record playing
Slow down and dance with me
Yeah, slow

— Kylie Minogue, “Slow” (2003)

Don’t wanna rush it
Let the rhythm pull you in
It’s here, so touch it

Approaching the glass facade of the Stedelijk museum, a monumental translucent wall, I pass through a revolving door: four planes rotate around a vertical axis. Just inside these doors are balustrades that guide the movements of entering visitors. 

Inside the atrium, a durational choreography is taking place. Four performers skate in loops across the network of dark-gray granite tiles which compose the ground of the museum. Cruising circles at leaning angles, their arms float, glide, and sometimes become wings, their legs scissor elegant speeds. They swerve dangerously close to us. 

We, the visitors, are scattered here and there, lying on the floor, sitting on stools, leaning against walls; our presence produces a round area or ring.

I always fail to faithfully record my experiences of dance in words. Because as a dancer how I write dance is via embodied choreographic processes which feel somehow ontologically opposed to modes of explicit textual representation.

Each hustle to write about dance endures endless acts of anxiety, resistance, dreaming, drifting, remembering, forgetting; resounding with other dances, choreographies, texts, sensations, lifetimes.

Remains of lived moments that surface beneath and beyond movements of art, discourse, and collection; continuously circling invisible axes.

Figure 1. Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, “Us Swerve” (2014). Performance view, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2019. Originally commissioned and produced by Basel Liste. Co-produced in Amsterdam by Julidans & Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Maarten Nauw.
Figure 1. Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, “Us Swerve” (2014). Performance view, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2019. Originally commissioned and produced by Basel Liste. Co-produced in Amsterdam by Julidans & Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Maarten Nauw.

You know what I’m saying
And I haven’t said a thing 
Keep the record playing

Figure 2. Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, “Us Swerve” (2014). Performance view, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2019. Originally commissioned and produced by Basel Liste. Co-produced in Amsterdam by Julidans & Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Maarten Nauw.
Figure 2. Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, “Us Swerve” (2014). Performance view, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2019. Originally commissioned and produced by Basel Liste. Co-produced in Amsterdam by Julidans & Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Maarten Nauw.

As the skaters circle invisible shifting axes, they quote fragments of collected poems. These spoken texts keep pace with their physical actions: “Side by side…until some swerve…leaning towards each other…the angle of the swerve holding them together.” These confidential references are delivered in variations that glide between casual everyday parlance and extra theatrical recitation.

This queer assemblage of vocal utterances alongside the scattering sound of the skates yields a polyrhythmic sonic landscape that ricochets against the surfaces of the museum walls and resounds in the bodies of the attendant spectators.

The tempo of the work pursues a pacing speed—a intensive circling punctuated by intervals of rest and recovery. I’m held by these rhythms and reflective repetitions: cycles in space, recycling of texts, and reorientations of relationships and intensities. The effort and endurance of the work is palpable exposing the real labor of choreographic practice. The performers’ movements diagram an intimate communicative field between them—their attention doesn’t directly address or include us, necessarily. 

Yet sometimes our gazes meet, inadvertently, flirtatiously, immediately. And I feel it. I’m turned on by these circular horizons that never arrive. These cruising zones of suspended desire.

Slow down and dance with me
Yeah, slow

Durational performance allows the world to seep in. My attention wanders, drifts, dissolves, and recomposes again and again. Orientations deviate across time as the work moves away and towards me.

Us Swerve generates an ebbing economy of attention, an elastic encounter that leaves its mark. Its effects resonate beyond the actual time of the work because I am floating in an unresolved virtual space. Traces echo in random moments of unconscious solicitation, imprints of sensation emerge beyond image. 

My encounter of Us Swerve resurfaces in unexpected moments, exceeding the endurance of its performance in ways and rhythms that remain forever out of time. 

Matthew Day is a choreographer currently based between Melbourne and Amsterdam.

1. Brian Ives & C. Bottomley, “Kylie Minogue: Disco's Thin White Dame Aussie Dance Pop Queen Talks about Brigitte Bardot, her Manufactured Character, and the Queer Eye Contingent,” MTV, February 24, 2004, accessed https://web.archive.org/web/20131030132118/http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1485255/disco-down-under.jhtml.