GOOD DIRT A PERFORMANCE DOCUMENT BY GINA BRINTNELL, JENN COLE, MYRTO KOUMARIANOS
A PERFORMANCE DOCUMENT
BY GINA BRINTNELL, JENN COLE, MYRTO KOUMARIANOS
Good Dirt is a performance reflection on a dance piece of the same name, performed as part of Public Energy’s Erring on the Mount site specific arts festival which was situated in an abandoned hilltop convent in 2014. Inspired by Jean Anouilh’s Antigone, the performance moved dancer against dirt and voice against dancer.
When the choreography and Myrto’s singing was complete, Gina continued to dig, hands carving through dirt and cocoa. The audience therefore had to negotiate their own ending: Antigone, for all they knew, could dig for ever. Though Antigone’s actions are futile, her continuing, in the face of this futility, performs an affirmation confusing the audience.
Antigone buries her brother.
The top floor swells with song, experimentally pitched and misshapen.
The voice releases spores. A woman singing Antigone through the dew in the fields. Singing apart her throat with the beetles wrote on bones.
As she digs, she becomessoiled by dirt: a pleasure (dutch cocoa smells divine). The mulch path shifts form in response to her movement. Flecks of gold shake from her pockets. Her eulogistic work is an affirmation of life. It is productive.
Fuck the king.
She cares little for death. She is, now, for the time of the dance, the most alive she has ever been. Quivering with vitality.
Voice scratched, watching this girl who is like my sister, but not my sister, but perhaps my sister. Soiled, writhing, convulsing, consuming dirt, or chocolate? Both? And her eyes emerging… dirtied, aged somehow, and wild, from the dirt, filled with it, and a plea for help – but from whom? Surely not me? I am here to… sing?
Audience: Witnesses to my death? The never ending eyeballs: let me die. Their gaze offers comfort and ostracization.
Chorus: Does she love me? Does she know me? Pity me? Despise me?
I keep reaching for the nurse’s hand but I can’t feel her.
Don’t make me do it again. I will plead. There is dirt in my eyes. My mouth. My mind. She rearranges my grave. I’ll choke on his bones. Get the broom. Shield me from the hellish Sun scorching my very being. So I dig for a refuge.
Unbearably sad but the most happy I have ever been.
An infinite eulogy. His-mine-ours, yours.
There is mud in my lungs.
(Voice scratching me, breathing dirt and mould, and some kind of ancient pain… of/in a song I am singing loudly, fully, but perhaps not carefully enough.)
But who is this girl and what can she want from me? This song? The taste of fresh-turned earth in my mouth, filling the song with the rasp of ignored death? Perhaps… And these faces, they watch her silently. Some sullen, some enraptured, some as if questioning… me? Am I their guide? Or accomplice? Who began this? I or they? She or I? Some other hand that gently moulded the choreography… but not the song, though she surely tried! The song stood defiant – the song and my ineptitude. Different every time.
But who is to blame? Or should there be blame? Cry or revel? And at the end, none wish to leave. She: still heaving. I, my back turned to her and to them. They sit quietly. Should I hum? Or laugh? Turn to acknowledge. None of us can any longer breathe. Or pretend that we didn’t come here. Brush the dirt off and start again. How else could it have been when she was still kicking the dirt? How else could I have walked with her? The song was a walking, perhaps I tread too heavily around her.
The strange shared language of our own muddled movement. Working through this dancer’s body whom I so admired and desired to move like but cannot possess or imitate
“Foetus half circle
It started…like changed…then changed again. Two parts. The grave untouched and when I entered the dirt.”
Antigone, she is no hero. She is hubris. Young. Stupid. Weak. (But trying).
Desperate. Peaceful. Clawing. Yearning. Free from flesh but all flesh.
It taught me to breath and stop breathing at the same time.
Blind panning. Hunting for hope. What to say of the blood that feeds the earth beneath me offered by the forceful flesh shaped by the same seed? My brother. My brother. Both dead in my heart. My brain.
I will never leave that field.
The Euphoric Body.
Fuck the King.
Rejection of an imperfect life.
Its soothing agony . Cruel love.
It makes me more
It makes me less.
CHORUS – A tower that follows me that I can never touch
This dirt will comfort me
A moment of being most alive – the moth at the candle. The light is overbearing, living death.
A moment between ground and sky.
I move because I must
A beauty beyond me.
It soothes me but I cannot touch it.
It is innocent
Empty of experience
A worthless wisdom of youth
Strangeness. Ratcheting, heaving, surrendering to tenderness. A starving engraver beetle on the verge of collapse and celebration. I believe I love her.
I am the beetle.
Relentless and simple in task.
Revelling in filth,
rejecting the failed values of man.
The dirt is my home.
Taking it into my body.
It is human.
It is freedom.
It is joy.
It is suffering.
No more waiting
Antigone’s idealism is as valuable as gold dust. Precious but fleeting.
My father betrays me by having been born. His empty eye sockets shape the way I see.
A face I can’t forget beside me in bed.
Now buried in dirt. Lost love.
But she will come again, and I, here, still, coughing, and rearranging my costume, reach for the broom. The dirt must always stay in some order… how else to tell the girl: “Ready? They are lined up out side the room again. Remember, first I hum then you begin to move…” Stealthily, stealthily, but always just ahead of time. Or behind? Beneath? Beside, but on a different parallel? Our camera caught a blue shadow: either mold-spores in ecstasies of dance, or a strange distant woman come to demand we tell her story in this dirt, two floors above that other dirt, soaked with so many other stories. But who is this girl here? Why sing for her? What will they hear as we begin again?