Performer Carole McCurdy draws from years of studying both butoh and Argentine tango for the (((waver)) project, which explores the ways we embrace the Other. The work investigates questions about movement, engagement, belonging, and identity, inhabiting a delicious paradox: the body has the greatest performative presence when self-conscious will is absent.
Each tango embrace is a meeting of two worlds and involves delicate negotiations of balance, resistance, and yielding. Butoh is a continuously shifting embrace of all that is Otherworldly within the human body. Both forms emerged during eras of massive social displacement, and both waver between female and male, presence and nostalgia, attention and forgetting. Moved by the inchoate connections transmitted by these forms, the (((waver)) project seeks a partnership with them to refresh the sensation of being bodies together.
From defiant surrealism to a formalized embrace, these disciplines offer ways to look at the dissociated body: a body beyond understanding, alien to itself, magnetized, claimed, yielded, yoked to the Other. The (((waver)) project brings these forms into conversation with each other, hitching a strange ride on the common elements they share. Fundamentally, both forms ask: “Where is the world that I belonged to? Was there even ever an ‘I’ that belonged anywhere?”
While under Sponsorship by HCL, McCurdy will lead a series of audition workshops and select a small ensemble with which to research, develop, and rehearse for a Works-in-Progress showing.
Recipient of a 2016 Lab Artist award from the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Carole McCurdy is a Chicago-based movement performer. Her work addresses grief and anxiety, duty and resistance, and the absurd mysteries of embodiment. Trained by masters of butoh including Natsu Nakajima and Yoshito Ohno and by teachers of Argentine tango including Guillermina Quiroga and Marcelo Varela, she has performed at the Chicago Cultural Center, Links Hall, Hamlin Park, High Concept Labs, Defibrillator Gallery, and Movement Research (NYC). In 2014 she danced under viaducts in downtown Chicago and toured Indonesia with Nicole LeGette’s blushing poppy Dance Club. In 2008–09 she was awarded an artistic residency at Links Hall, where she created and showed her ensemble piece Alas.
Paul Valery said “to see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” My work comes from a desire to evade labels, to explore confusion without reaching for happy answers, to ride a continuous displacement. Argentine tango dances me through ambiguity. The practice of butoh moves me beyond names and categories. Experience with cancer rebirthed my body as Other. In my solo and ensemble pieces, pathos and humor melt into one, costumes are elegantly undignified, movement is awkward, and failure is virtuosic.
I began performing in 2004, at the age of 41. For many years I’d been dancing Argentine tango, appreciating its embrace of dark aspects of life and human folly. But encountering butoh taught me to work deeper into the dark places—how to make moments specific, yet avoid labeling and limiting them in the process.
Medicine, morbidity, and mortality have been recurring themes in my work. Starting in 2008, my cancer experiences served as strong motivation to make the work now, even while life was a hot mess. Now I’m cancer-free, my life is still a hot mess, and I struggle to understand my motivations. I aim to make good use of this doubt, dance a tango with it, affectionately pressing forward against it to arrive at new work. The (((waver)) project is my step into this unknown.