Looking Out To Sea

Critical appraisal from the inside

On Tuesday we were at PITCH, an evening of new modern dance and related arts put on by Conflux Scotland. The specific reason we knew about the event was because Shady Phil (or one of his other guises, at least) was performing a piece.

After each performance of acrobatics/dance/drama there was space in the timetable to fill in feedback forms, and we were heavily encouraged to complete them. The specific intent of the evening was getting new and less-established artists a bit of publicity so feedback from the public was a bit part of it.

I really struggle when it comes to providing constructive feedback in most circumstances but when it’s someone I know doing something I’m slightly familiar with then nothing seems right. I start providing feedback on my own opinions, trying to analyse them as much as the thing in front of me — “would I say this to a stranger?”, “would I think that if I didn’t know the person?”. This is the trap I spring on myself.

The Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear comes to mind for some reason:

Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

In this case not fear but introspection. Introspection is the mind killer. Introspection is the little-death that brings total indecision.

With anyone else I can say “oh she’s doing a bit of body popping” or “this is a bit odd” or “where do they find this weird music?” but when it’s someone I know these thoughts feel like betrayals. They come through as “oh he’s doing his capoeira thing again” or “was that meant to happen?” and I can’t enjoy the work for what it is.

My apologies to Phil for not completing the feedback or coming up with anything to say in person. I did enjoy the piece and the character made me think of several things — of puppets, of possession, of mistreated beasts – but I couldn’t really articulate any of these things at the time. Whether the story that I constructed in my head was the story you constructed in yours I don’t know; but it formed in my head all the same, which is important. I definitely can’t say that about all the pieces that night.

Here’s a bit of Phil and Spotted Stripes Circus to enjoy!