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Sam Miller responds to Platform | Eiko + Koma
Sam Miller responds to Platform
photo by Ian Douglas

Sam Miller responds to Platform

  • Danspace Project Platform Journal

Writer in Residence Sam Miller Responds to Talking Duets: #1 (2/20), An Evening with Paul Chan and Claudia La Rocco (2/24), and Eiko Solos.

Part 1

Lack of policy is a policy
Lack of clarity is a kind of clarity
The limits of my power are the limits of my language
Lack of power is not a kind of power
Silence is power
The body’s stillness is the final statement on power
Practice confirms the impossibility of perfect
Knowledge is not power
You know – pain wisdom pain Jarrell –
That sort of knowledge.


Part 2

The giving of thanks
(Prologue to the solos)

We thank Paul for his witches, fates, & furies
We thank Emmanuelle, John, Bebe, & David for their willingness to spond, even to
respond, to Tuesday’s questions
We thank Claudia for lighting, relighting, the lamp of poetry in this sanctuary
We thank Maria for planting her gray flag at our northern pole, this tidal
“paradox of stillness” so suits Eiko’s imminent pilgrimage

Thank you to Judy and Lydia for letting us share this journey

And we remember C.D. Wright
whose truer deeper stronger words
are more than enough and already much missed


Part 3
“Begin with nothing, remote starting point, the area of darkest color. Begin with
nothing, which is yourself.”
C.D. Wright

A first solo (preview)
112 Second Ave


Words searching for a place
Body bereft searching for a rest
Marking that resting place
Eiko was here
Was now always

The first words on the southern wall of this second “dancers’ church”

“wherefore seeing we also are”

the urgency is now palpable
The open and closing doors
The bowl of spilt water
Stained glass
The ragged kimonos
this list and the resistance to empathy

The last words written on the northern wall are

“the author and finisher of our faith”

So endeth the solo

Sam Miller Responds to Precarious #2: Guest Solos (3/5), Maria Hassabi’s Plastic at MoMA (3/7), and Eiko Solo #7 (3/8)

Part 4

“I don’t know if I am trying to do something new, but I know that I am trying to learn something new.
The doors fling themselves open.”
C.D. Wright

Overlapping Solos
(St. Mark’s Church, March 5)

The loneliness of the Noh distance runner
Bird of gray, bird in black, bird of rose, bear of brown, planets in an uncertain rotation, dark matter in southern corners, wild boys eager for small attentions
Drink to me from thine shoe
Then sent drifting into the Parish Hall
Sitting behind R observing J – watching someone you love watching someone they love
Borne back to the sanctuary
(Blow out your candles Eiko)
Your single sandal our wretched castanet.

Abandoned stalks of green
Recovered the other sandal
Dragged futon fabric

Don’t eat the flowers
Don’t feed the bear, repose
While overhead N keeps dancing
Treading toward the not-so-distant dead

And the woman in black tells the blind woman in red what we are seeing

“Somewhere a queen is weeping, somewhere a king has no wife.”

And, yes, a mad King is dancing somewhere between the lion and the graveyard

The last name is written on the white wall, the wild boys are subsiding, no curtain, just an antic curtain call for the remaining refugees that ring this hall
(Choirs of angels sing Fred to his rest)

Part 5

“Groping along the cold walls of silence.”
C.D. Wright

(“Plastic” at MoMA, March 7)

Molly’s exposed throat
Helen in Egypt
HD, Lynne Tillman,
Jane Bowles,
“Desert” that desert
That stillness
That this then is not stillness
Art the residue of action
HD again
That sandal’s impression left in the sand,
The salted earth of Carthage

The head held just above the gray stone floor and then the head and the left arm come to rest at that same moment

Trojan women?
(No second Troy)
More Maud Gonne than Hector’s widow
But Eiko as Andromache might satisfy the oracle
(and Koma as “Ohno meets Cassandra” in a parking lot outside of Thebes)

Part 6

“What elegy is, not loss but opposition.”
C.D. Wright

(11th Street, March 8)

What exactly is the soundscape of mourning? Hand hard against the aluminum facade, shopworn keening, as the cream kimono falls away for the dark indigo.

What to make of this setting?

Do you think you are almost invisible?

That heavy legged table
That strip of white marble
That discarded shard of silk
That bowl again
That hand outstretched to hand pressing water into strange flesh

And then Ophelia and the eaten flowers flee reason as you cross the eleventh river and recede east in the unseasonable sun.

Sam Miller Responds to Conversation Without Walls: Bearing Witness, March 11, 2016

Part 7

“Now that I am beyond the initial paralysis of calling one’s first teachings into question, I am left with: be critical and sing.”
C.D. Wright

Fragments from Friday
(Words almost heard)

Catastrophe of meaning
Always hurtling toward catastrophe
Catastrophe practice
Time stops
Time must have stop
Time curved so that looking forward you can see the back of your own
Capital acceleration
The autonomy of Eiko time
Mutated declensions
Singular / plural
Past / future
Timeways that send us sideways into that future
From the Finland / Fulton Station
To St. Marks where memory is the destination
Though the lost dance process
Leaves its own definition of loss
That permanent gesture
luciana and the body perpetual in mourning
Capture / release
Photo / noh photo / performance is time’s rebuttal
The insistence of the body refutes the tyranny of expectation
The only object in this room is that bowl of water
The insistence on the value of being
The work is not hard if you don’t think about the radiation
Remember, Andromache is the consequence of force
Hesitate before you remember
The consequence of no consequence
Stations of the body and the illusion of separation
Nobody? Really? No/body?

Sam Miller Responds to An Evening with Margaret Leng Tan, Valda Setterfield, and Forrest Gander (3/15), Eiko Solo #13 (3/16), Eiko Solo #15 (3/18), Talking Duets: #2 (3/19), and Eiko Solo #16

Part 8

“not that theories are not beautiful, but that they are feeble”
C.D. Wright

St. Marks Church (March 15)
D is for

Says Merce
Through Valda
An art process is not necessarily a natural process
The body, mind, and spirit act as one
Devastatingly impersonal
An initial impress of the body on time
Dance memory
that single fleeting moment when you feel alive
Death and the plough man
Days of heaven

Had some bad dreams last night
Buildings falling down into water
Husbands in closets

Behind the piano the loom
Behind Forrest
Behind Valda
Behind Margaret
on film installed like perjured sails in the sanctuary

* * *

Imagine the beaches east of Fukushima
Imagine your beach
Imagine a beach
Imagine the privilege of imagination

Part 9

The Final Solo at Middle Collegiate Church (March 16)

“wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses
let us lay aside every weight”
—written on the church’s southern wall

9:00 p.m. Solo at St. Marks Church (March 18)

A strange, unserviceable thing,
A fragile, exquisite, pale shell,
That the vast troubled waters bring
To the loud sands before day has broken.
The storm arose and suddenly fell
Amid the dark before day had broken.
What death? What discipline?
What bonds no man could unbind,
Being imagined within
The labyrinth of the mind,
What pursuing or fleeing,
What wounds, what bloody press,
Dragged into being
This loveliness?
from “The Only Jealousy of Emer”, W.B. Yeats

Part 10

Talking Duets: #2 and The Final Midnight Solo (March 19)

Throughout these late winter days with Eiko and her friends I have had that song from the opening of Yeats’ “The Only Jealousy of Emer” in my head, a song  “for the folding and unfolding of cloth,” and those Trojan women—Hecuba, Cassandra, Andromache—and also H.D.’s “Eurydice.”

I apologize, my book learning is clearly from that last century.

I feel about Eiko as
Lynne Tillman feels about Paula Fox or Susan Howe about Emily Dickinson or maybe the way Ana Mendieta feels about Ana Mendieta in her films showing right now at Galerie Lelong.
Eiko, Ana, and Maria all in town at the same time! This is certainly the royal eclipse of the son and all of us attendants will be able to say that we were here under this lunar shadow tidal in its affections.

Ultimately abstraction almost wins
No metaphor
No simile
No tragic Greek figure

We are left with a woman of
no certain age
who has emerged scathed
from our new century
laden with some embodied
combination of warning
and sorrow

A woman who looks up and across the sanctuary
and sees      nothing
the nothing that remains after everything is lost

except memory
So endeth the Platform—
My thanks to Eiko and all involved for the journey.


Danspace Project Writer-in-Residence Sam Miller is the founder and Director of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. He has also served as the President of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), President of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), Executive Director of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), and President and Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow.