On writing #Act I

Betina Panagiotara and Stergiani Tsintziloni

10 November 2023

‘Dear Blank Page’

I come here to you driven

Driven by the urge to write

An urge I do not wholly understand

An urge that gets me out of bed while others sleep

An urge that makes me seek you in the dark.

Your whiteness was perfect, so was your form

Before I wrote on you the first word.

Now you have lost your purity

You have lost the possibility of becoming

Poetry or prose, an essay or a report

So many other things than what you have become.

Mars, V., 2015

 What follows is just an introduction; a first act to a discussion that keeps us going, that motivate us to go on talking, reaching out, writing words on paper, agreeing and disagreeing, coming together, writing alone. These are our first endeavours to write down on paper the questions and answers that guide our thoughts and our collaboration. It is a beginning that strives for an end but wishes never to reach it.

– Why do you write about dance? Is it your own need or a need to make others understand what you think about dance? Maybe, it is a need rising from dance in an effort to transcend its own boundaries? Is it a profession, a way of living and surviving or is it rather part of an established media discourse attached to power?

– Why do you write about dance? I write so as to understand, to link things and thoughts together, to connect, communicate, embrace, agree and disagree. I write about dance because these written words transform and create another reality coming out of what is already there. Because these words can offer a translation from one medium to another, to a different reality.

I am writing for the pleasure and the challenge of it.

I am writing to open up a dialogue. The question is: who am I talking with?

– The audience of the dialogue, the recipients of the messages/gifts, the readers/listeners/viewers/witnesses of such public act may be of any nationality, despite the problem of the language. Maybe we want them to be of any nationality. But this fact does not answer to the question of the dialogue as conversation. Conversation needs at least two people to be involved in the dialogue…and it presupposes an exchange of viewpoints, a meeting ground for different suggestions. Are our texts open to multiple possibilities or our effort for making a convincing argument leads us to a hermetically sealed intellectuality?

– I think that we want our text to operate as an invitation to dialogue but it can only become a dialogue or a conversation when someone else decides to read, think, agree or disagree with it. This process sometimes takes time. However, if we name those operations open or close then we lack the proper tools for defining what can be open and what can be closed. Maybe, what we are looking for, so as to return to our first question, is why do we write and what is it that we wish for when we send an invitation out to the world talking about dance as a product of circumstances, among other things.

– You are right, I totally agree. I didn’t mean to call the text open or close, I did not mean not to think about it as an invitation, I did not mean anything else but…This slippery character of language! This silence of voices transformed into written letters, always playing multiple games with meanings. But let’s start again: Why do we write in the first place? I think I write because I want to approach dance from multiple perspectives. I want to think. Feel, see, reflect, engage, detach, reject using my body, my mind, my senses in all possible ways. And then? Yes, then I think it’s important to open this to the world. As an invitation and an act. As the hand of a friend offering a present, but also as the hand of a person offering a public action.

– Exactly. Writing about dance in a public platform creates a shift from stage to page initiating a secondary dialogue (after the artistic one on stage) that re-contextualises, relates, constructs or deconstructs, affects and contributes to the work of art, to the art, the artist and everyone else that picks up those words and silently reconfigures them. In this process, the intention of the writing is of major importance. If we have already agreed it is an invitation, what is it inviting you to do? Words, language can be a vehicle of many things and quite a powerful one, so what kind of discourse do our texts create or re-create for dance? Or to rephrase what kind of discourse would we like to open up by writing? One that invites reconsideration, that considers doubt, that relates dance to other art forms, that links the aesthetic to the sociopolitical and wonders where that can take us. A discourse that is active, self-reflexive, posing questions and acting as a platform for coming together around dance, around words, around a community or potentially building a community of people. What about that? Can discourse become the vehicle of another social imaginary or am I daydreaming here?

– Yes, I think all and each one of that. Without claiming that a text on dance can achieve everything, I think that a text on dance can do a lot. And for that reason it has power. So it bears the weight of responsibility, even ethics. How power can be implicated within the words? How can words activate an imaginary? Poets and writers can greatly contribute to that but here we are talking about us. So, I suppose the link between the words themselves and the context is pivotal for the operation of a dance text. Take this dialogue for example. If you put it within a journalist context it does not make sense at all. Here, within a context of thinking, writing and reflecting on the possible links between stage and page, it makes perfect sense. Yes, but what about the intention of the author, the selection of language, the possible readers, the danceworks themselves and many many more questions? How can we take into account all these factors? Do we want to? Is it possible? Whatever answer one might give, immediately sets him/herself to a certain position of operation within the possibilities of the field. In other words, even the no-words have a particular point to make.

I think we’ve made a full circle.

If you think the issue of power in the void of the words and the potential to provide a platform of social imaginary through a dance text, then we arrive at the point where the two form the two sides of the same coin come together. And that coin is our human ability to act.

Dear reader, every text can be an opening, a beginning. Like the questions we posed here they may be triggers for thinking, writing and positioning oneself within a context. It is a process, a method and a technology for describing, analysing, and framing. Writing is an act of positioning within an ever shifting context.

Let the journey begin!

 Steriani Tzintziloni & Betina Panagiotara

November 2015

Mars, V., Dear Blank Page, 2015, http://vincentmars.com/2015/11/08/dear-blank-page/