KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Ekphrastic Tanka Tale: 229 words

Taking It to the Limen

by Charles D. Tarlton
CARMODY: I saw Bill T. Jones perform his Story/Time. He was reading out little one-minute stories, and his dancers would dance around him, interpreting what he’d read.

BLIGHT: For the exact same minute?

“And then I just crouched low and turned like this,” she said, “and reached slowly out with my arms, like a blind man feeling for something in the dark.”

“What did you feel, then?” he asked. “Did you feel anything?”

“The physical situation,” she said, “you know, the texture of it, the tension, the presence of some great strength. I felt like a rock on the side of mountain up above the sea.”

“Yes, of course,” he said, “but didn’t you want to say something, right at that moment?”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “All my energies were focused on the movement.”

Then, after a short pause, she added: “But, it felt like I was speaking in a way, you know, saying really important things.”

in perpetual motion
some dancer writes her coded
cursive in the air
tougher to read than writing
on the wall

following the line
in its words and its spaces
how the jumps draw out
the music, each note in turn
demands the perfect meaning

on the red sandstone
walls of a cave in Utah
a dancing figure
mesmerizing a bison
to the overture of Time


Publisher’s Note:

To learn more about Bill T. Jones’s Story/Time, see also:

Metaphors of Movement Around the Spoken Word, a dance review by Claudia La Rocco in The New York Times (22 January 2012); and

Dance and the Body, a discussion by Anat Shinar (which includes a three-minute video clip of excerpts from Story/Time) of dance elements and the philosophical meaning behind the work, from the series Look Who’s Looking Now: How We Watch, What We Think, and Why It Matters, in the Walker Art Center’s blog, The Green Room (4 April 2013).

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