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There is always someone wading into uncharted territory. John Cage’s musical composition 4′ 33″, which was performed in total silence. Ruth Zaporah’s Action Theatre, an improvisational performance style born out of the present moment, asking the performer and audience to be here now. Steve Paxton founded Contact Improvisation, a revolutionary dance form that follows a shared point of contact. Mary Whitehouse worked with Jung and developed the practice of Authentic Movement. Deborah Hay developed the concept of cellular movement and was a contemporary of John Cage. The list goes on.
For all the individuals who felt compelled to explore the unknown, I am grateful. I came into dance as a young girl studying Russian ballet. As much as we moved from city to city, I was able to continue my dance training. Oddly enough, because we moved so much, I never had the opportunity to complete the performance aspect of ballet. I would be fit for costume, receive new toe shoes, and then we would move. This may have something to do with my personal evolution toward the avant garde.
we arrived saying goodbye
the dove gray light lifting the wall
there were no shadows only language
tearing leaves from the branches
and the undeciphered shape of wind
links of chain fencing, a sun beaten track home
statues in the hall holding my feet to the floor
we were already gone
I may not be able to remember life as it actually occurred, but my sense of inner resilience became my experience of continuity. As my artistic career developed, meditation and the contemplative arts became my refuge. I began practicing Authentic Movement, a therapeutic form that involves moving with eyes closed while being witnessed in the process. My discovery of this practice fundamentally changed me. I began to develop an inner connection to movement that went far beyond making shapes in space with my body, which at the time was the essence of modern dance.
When I crossed paths with the trail blazing mentors mentioned above, I had found my people. I studied Action Theatre with Ruth in San Francisco. I studied Contact Improvisation with Steve Paxton. I performed with Deborah Hay. I came into the world of performance as a personal act of discovery. My career in dance spanned traditional, technical and exploratory new forms. Carl Jung says the psychological diseases of our age exist because people do not tell their stories. I survived because I found a way to express the inexpressible of my past.
Somewhere in Missouri
This is where I lived he says
The blue car, the gravel road
The green house
This is where I did not live I say
At night, the furniture moved
Each morning brought a new configuration
Which made walking to the kitchen
An event, an arrival, a visit
Objects floated room to room
The couch slip covers sagged
My mother smoothing the creases
With her unhappy hands
Her hair shaking head
Dancing in the silence
A glass in the air
Waiting for midnight
Behind the house
The uncared-for yard
The dry rural expanse
Children playing in the dirt
Top hat, plaid skirt, torn tennies
Nowhere to ride
The yellow Schwinn
Leaning against the house
A thrashing of rain and lightning
The birds flew
Dazed in the dark
The birds flew
The rain railed
Over the house
Where I did not live
Poetry has its own meter and rhythm just as dance does, in my experience the two are inseparable. It is through the expression of dance and poetry that I am able to contribute to the world.
Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him ― C.G. Jung
One of the phenomenons that occurs as an artist is a continual re-creating of the self, a constant calibration between the personal and the universal. When I am in the shadows and lose my way I think of Jung, whose understanding of the creative self is very clear. I remember the reward that comes with following the creative impulse to completion, the impulse has no name and cannot be measured, it just is, which is the most wonderful reward of all.
Born in New York, NY and raised in Texas, Jean Fogel Zee has been dancing, writing and working with the world as installation for over 30 years. The arc of Zee’s creative life is multi-disciplinary in form with a focus on poetry, dance, and the practice of Authentic Movement. Zee’s performance works have been supported by grants from the City of Austin, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is presently Artist In Residence with The Historic Santa Fe Foundation in Santa Fe, NM. Her exhibit WORD Poetry / Installation premiered May 5 – May 28, 2017 at the Historic Santa Fe Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Zee is currently working on her 2018 exhibition WIRED, as well as her one woman show WEEP – An Existential Comedy, both shows to be presented by spring of 2018.
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