On Monday, November 12, as part of the Cage Transmitted Series presented by Norte Maar and Experiments in Art and Technology, choreographer Simone Forti discussed her work and John Cage’s influence.
Forti, a postmodern legend with a near four-decade career, has created dances largely based on basic everyday movements. A noted dancer, Forti performed with Anna Halprin, Trisha Brown and Robert Whitman. Musically she has collaborated with La Monte Young, Richard Maxfield, Terry Riley, and Yoko Ono.
Just days prior, Forti and her company performed her new work titled That Fish Is Broke, as part of Judson Now, Danspace Project’s season-long look at Judson Dance Theater. The Judson Dance Theater was a 1960s experimental dance collective. While Forti was not a Judson member, the review of her performance in The New York Times explained that she did, however, “participate in the composition classes led by Robert Dunn that instigated the Judson movement, and her works using children’s games, everyday movement and improvisation were central to the era’s redefinition of dance.”
“Rather than revive any of those historical works for Judson Now,” The New York Times wrote, “Ms. Forti offered That Fish Is Broke, an example of a current practice she calls “News Animation.” In this improvisational exercise she gathers a friend or two and conducts a conversation, in integrated speech and motion, about the news of the day and whatever is on their minds and thus in their bodies.”
Simone Forti has had many inspirations. For Cage Transmitted, she discussed the influence John Cage has had on her work. She particularly noted the ‘permissions’ that his work and his working methods have given her in making dances and sound installations.
Here are a few quotes, excerpting this rare evening with Simone Forti:
Regarding John Cage:
“When I think of John Cage I have a sense of space.”
“John Cage was able to hear the sounds of sounds rather than the constructions of sounds that have come through history.”
“To Cage, a sound was a sound.”
“Cage didn’t like improvisation. As in improvisation there is a tendency to return to your habits.”
Regarding Anna Halprin:
“Anna Halprin believed that any movement was movement. From her I understood that movement didn’t have to look a certain way.”
“From Halprin I learned how to work with negative space. I think she got that from the Bauhaus.”
Other major influences:
“From the Butoh artists in Japan, I learned that painting and sculpture can be experienced as environments… loaded with quality and meaning. The Butoh opened doors.”
“I respond to ancient Japanese aesthetic.”
About making dances:
“Some times you feel it in your body… and you go woah!”
“Some times things just happen on their own.”
“To me, making dances is like flying a kite where the improvisation is the kite, my thoughts are the wind, and the thread is the structure.”