Lauren Fitzgerald

My solo “Like they were laughing” looks at the experience of following one’s desires and dreams into a new world/ career/ place, more specifically, my personal experience of leaving a technical career behind to focus on dance. Using the metaphor of washing up onto a beach, the piece tracks the stages of this process. The floating (in the ocean), the dreaming (of the waves), the diving (onto shore), the struggle and self-doubt (of the sand), the conforming (to the air), the freedom and joy (of the messy wind) and the simultaneous yearning for the comfort of what was before (waves).
 
In other words it says,
 
“ok…
 
ok, i feel it now.
this is what it’s about, right..? this and this, and this!!!
yes, it’s better than i ever dreamed of.
 
this is what i wanted.”

Lauren Fitzgerald is in her second year of the contemporary dance program at Die Etage. She has danced previously in Ann Arbor, San Francisco, and Berlin, where she dabbled in many forms of dance, though most consistently coming back to contact improvisation and contemporary. While movement practice is her focus at the moment, her artistic interests are continuously bouncing between different mediums: writing, sewing, moving, drawing and sculpting. During the duration of this festival, she is particularly interested to explore film, which she has not previously spent much time with.

Snapshots

Is this blog giving a view into my piece or a view into me as a person? In the case of the solo, which was created with the theme of “self-portrait,” is there a difference?

I once heard about an art exhibition where the walls were covered in pages from people’s personal journals. Little glimpses into their lives and inner worlds and feelings in a straightforward kind of way. I imagine you wouldn’t have to read too much into the words or spend too much time interpreting. No poetry. Just some things that happened. Some documentation. Maybe it was something important, but maybe not. Possibly inarticulate and with grammar errors. Entirely unfiltered and honest because it was not made self-consciously with an audience in mind. And I imagine that reading them would be like observing people who think they’re alone.

I appreciate the idea that life in itself is art. The little, funny, passing moments as well as the long, complex, painful ones. Just as they are. Without any frame or contextualization or abstraction.

(But I did edit and caption that photo, so I guess it’s a balance between truth and fiction. Perhaps being able to see both sides is what’s most intriguing. To see the facade and what’s underneath. Am I just describing intimacy?)

Scouting locations

Looking for a place to film a dancing scene. Ideally, it would be a large windy meadow with knee-high grass…somewhere near Berlin…suggestions?

Little figure in a jar

Playing with sounds and images again!

In the last week, I decided that I’ll try to restage my solo “Like they were laughing” as a film. To understand more about the mechanics of making a film and to experiment with the images I would like to work with, I’m giving myself some mini-projects. This first one is to film a small figure in a glass container of water, which is what I imagine as the first scene in the film. To represent a person floating in the deep ocean. I used an audio recording I made many months ago and tried to fit it to the images. That was challenge #2 – how to set images to random audio. And here is what I ended up with!

 

Some of the things I’ve learned:

  • * how filming from different perspectives can make a viewer feel more or less involved. Looking up at the jar is very fun, looking down feels very personal, and looking from the side is just like an audience.
  • * I think I need to make a better figurine that is more clearly a person…
  • * quality of laptop camera = shitty
  • * sometimes when the audio does not match the visuals, it can become overbearing. I added some breaks in the recording so that there were some breaths of fresh air for the ears
  • * it’s hard to isolate just the figure in the container. hands and body and string are visible. also jar is far from the ideal shape. Ideally, it would be a very large round glass bowl. Anyone have one?!

Rainy day

I’ve been outside with friends swimming in lakes the past three days, feeling the sun and cold water awaken some dormant life within me. Feeling more out than in. Energy going to people instead of to work. Today, I took the the rainy weather as an opportunity to go a bit inside again. The lilac tree (Fliederbaum) blossoms that I picked in Kaulsdorf yesterday. I wish I could send the moist sweet fragrance through the internet as well.

Soundscapes

I’ve been thinking about soundscapes.

Every now and then, I will record the sounds of a certain environment. In my solo, I used the sounds of waves from a beach I spent time at last summer. The water gives a certain ambiance to the first scene, where I am being washed up on shore by the waves. I find the recording to be quite meditative and soothing. But, I don’t think it’s just the waves. This calmness also comes when I record any sounds and then play the recording out of context. For example, the sounds of a busy city street in a quiet room. The sounds of a scene detached from its surroundings creates for me a funny feeling of calm and presence. Like I am suddenly much more aware.

Hearing the shouts of kids when you are in a playground is typical and unspectacular. But when it is played in a home environment, it somehow brings more life to the sounds. This came up in a conversation I had with Diethild and Julek. How imagination is triggered by leaving an element of a situation unknown or unseen. Just hearing sounds makes you wonder what the scene looked like.

Anyway, last night, I got back home from a day at the beach. After I ate and took a shower, I walked into my room with the lights off. There was some second-hand light shining from the windows across the Hinterhof into my room, lighting up the outlines of my furniture. I watched my neighbor in the building across from me ironing something in her living room. The kitchen lights from another apartment shone onto my floor. The wind was picking up in the courtyard, blowing the new spring leaves and hinting at the coming rain. I felt such perfection in that moment. I saw myself in my window watching my neighbor in her window. I had the feeling I could watch her iron and listen to the wind and sit in the darkness forever.

But of course I didn’t and after some meditative moments, I went to my desk in the dark and thought about the fact that I haven’t posted something on the blog in a while and wondered what I should do. I started listening to a sound recording I had made at the beach earlier in the day and had the idea to draw what I heard. As I listened to other recordings on my phone, I did the same and came up with these 4 drawings:

I wonder if you listen to the recordings, can you guess which is which?

 

Nightengale:

Bath bubbles:

Kaulsdorferseen:

Courtyard:

Nightengale/Nachtigall

wow. making videos is fun! was inspired by the speeding up and slowing down from Julia and Simone’s parking lot video.

a little thing in the graveyard

trying to get unstiff …. hovering/stumbling a bit above the ground

what’s the last thing you saw before you landed here?

Here’s another version of the story. A dramatic telling. Sometimes it sounds like one of those meditation/relaxation tracks, but then it gets chaotic. Also, it gets a bit loud, so maybe don’t put the volume too far up. I wonder how it is to listen to this with your eyes closed or in a dark room. Is it possible to follow my voice without reading along?

 

what’s the last thing you saw before you landed here?

waves. you see waves above you on the surface of the water. they’re rolling around up there, grey and white, the dim rays of sunlight streaking through the surface. just starting to reach you. you can start to see your own body. you used to be just as black as the water surrounding you, but now you can just start to see the silhouette of your arms and legs. you’re being drawn closer and closer to the surface, you notice how easily the water above seems to be flowing, not the slow and strong current down where you are. Not the gloom that you can’t pull yourself from.. the waves look free, like they’re having fun. like there’s something dancing up there. like the light gives them energy, like there’s something up there to see that you haven’t seen before that could maybe give you some of that Leichtigkeit. what do they see that you don’t down here? And before you know it, you’re pulled down again into the deep ocean below. Dark and soft and cold.

Soon you start to dream of the waves again. you start to crave it. floating in the darkness, you ask ”can i go up too?” and you wait for the current to respond. At first, you don’t hear anything, so you wait a little longer. you wait and wait ….and wait and then a push comes! it’s pushing you. it listened! here you go, it’s slow, but faster than before. The pressure begins to lift off from your body, bit by bit, and everything seems to be lighter and your body feels like it’s expanding, getting bigger and looser. the resistance is less and less until you feel like you’re shooting up! the light is burning your eyes, but it’s so beautiful. you are everything!

you reach the surface and you feel the waves. And they’re pulling and pushing and throwing you, slapping you, flirting with you. haha and you get the feeling that there is sooo much life happening around you. you’re exhilarated, having your body thrown wildly around. why have you not come here before? why have you not asked for this before? the ocean would have listened, but you never dared to ask. and now you’re swirling and it’s scary, but it’s also incredible.

and now there is this roughness, oh it’s scraping your skin and you’re being dragged through it and sand is rushing into your nose and eyes and your ears and through your fingers and your hair and you’re tumbling now along this grainy surface. it’s slowing you down and you’re not flying anymore. you’re just rolling up and down and back and forth and then sometimes, you hardly move and sometimes you just feel the sand on your skin, the water rushing over you and suddenly you realize you’re beached and there’s nothing left to push you. you’re stuck. in the stickiness of gravity. your body sunken into the sand.

now what do you do? is this it? it feels impossible to move without water. you’re lying vulnerable on the beach. alone. just the sound of the waves in the background, the grey of the sky and the sand pushing up from beneath you. and you realize the only way you’re going to move is to push yourself off the ground. use your own muscles and your own will, but do you even want to? is this what you came here for….? what if you just use your strength to push yourself back into the waves so they can take control again? why do you have to take control? it’s not like you know what you’re doing. it’s so much more fun when they dance with you. why do you have to dance alone?

….but hold on, what’s that? there’s a tickle on your skin…wait… there’s something else up here you haven’t felt before. it’s warm and it’s soft. softer than the waves. it’s brushing over your skin….your salty hair is knotted and flung across your face. the sand in your eyes starts to irritate you. the sand in all ofyour holes, it starts to itch and then the salt water spills out from your mouth. there’s a pouring out. all of the sand and water that you’ve lived in and in-between, it comes rushing out of you. suddenly, you’re empty and the weight of pushing yourself up, it’s gone, there’s something airy about you now.

hey, this is what you wanted, right? the adventure, the liveliness, you wanted to see what they see from up here. ok….ok okayyyy!!!!!! okaaaayyy let’s do it. dry that hair, put on those clothes. You ask, “is that what they do here, ok, here we go, this is what they do here right? am i doing it right? ok, now, how do they move? ok, you feel the breeze, ok, you feel the wind, ok, you feel it now. this is what it’s about, right? this and this, and this!!! whoosh swoop and dive and woooow the gravity is real and it’s playful and it’s fun. ok! ok! and look at those waves, they know what they are doing, look at that love and joy and energy. you’re trying, you’re trying so hard! you wonder, “am i keeping up?, does it look good?, do you see me having fun and looking light and great and swoopy..wwoooooooo 😀 look at you smile! hahah  ….ha  ….ha…h…

but then there’s something that disturbs the path and the wind is changing course and slam! bam! you can’t keep track anymore and it’s all too overwhelming. there’s a gust here and there and it’s slippery suddenly and your footing is gone and what was it that was controlling you? was it really wind or something else? and it’s just gone. and there’s only you to keep yourself going, but it’s not quite enough….you stumble and fall and look out at the ocean again….your eyes are wide. look at those waves, they definitely look better than you. just look at them…. the ocean is cold, but you could float comfortably in it forever. you scream, wait wait take me back please, i need to let go again. this is too hard. i can’t stand to even push myself up from the ground. this is too heavy. this responsibility, this what i think i want. this is too heavy to carry with my own legs.  drag me out, please, take me away from this feeling that i need to stand. take it away… you know you’re already on land. but you need the waves to pull at you pull at you give you the feeling that life is around that life is eating from you and giving to you and making you spin. not that you have to make your own wind….just a breeze please. let it in.

Should I write a children’s book?

I’ve been brainstorming ways to represent this story in different mediums. I’ve already written it down several times and orally told it to many people in different settings. Someone once told me that it could be a good children’s story… or perhaps that was something I came up with on my own. Either way, this thought has stuck in my mind because I enjoy both writing and drawing.

This morning, I was in a really pleasant in-and-out-of-dreams state and felt inspired and ran with the idea. Here’s what I came up with:

What I have found quite challenging with this whole process is keeping my story straight. I mean every time I tell it, something is different. In these illustrations, for example, I’ve suddenly decided to put a whale into it, which never crossed my mind before, only because if it’s a children’s story it has to be a little less abstract…right? Mainly, the parts I am unclear on within myself are the ones that are always changing. 1. How she gets to the surface and 2. How it ends. I’ve tested out my alternative storylines on different people to see their reactions. In one end-of-story scenario, I got whimsical and had the girl-creature turn into a feather and float away in the wind.

 

Coming in on the waves

 

audio: Lauren Fitzgerald, Plage des Corsaires, Anglet
painting: Adolph Hirémy-Hirschl, The Birth of Venus