Godder is ‘facing (the) inside’

Ido Feder

Throughout her work, Yasmeen Godder is busy with the chasm between the ‘outside’ and the ‘inside’ of the body. This chasm separates what appears on the surface of the body and what is always perceived as its source or inner meaning. The chasm is always present because it cannot be dismissed by using causal, corresponding or power relationships as feasible explanations. Thus, Godder’s dance attests to the great desire to express “something real” about the body, and at the same time she exposes the inability to compromise on just one mode of expression which she may proclaim as “truthful”. And so, the ‘dancing body’ in Godder’s work appears as a confession about the multiple ways of its attempt to appear through this chasm.

One can claim that the impossibility of sealing the chasm between the ‘outside’ and the ‘inside’ of the body is a characteristic of any sort of dance. This is because the dancing body, in its nature, strengthens this irresolution – as it insists on the body’s constant movement which does not let it fix a stable meaning, nor is it exempt from being meaningful. The inquiry of this innate chasm in dance and the discontents it provokes are an engine of creation for Godder’s dance. As such, her work always also functions as a reflection on the expression of dance as a medium.

Thus, the question “what is dance?” is being danced – and it is immediately entangled with the attempt to determine whether dance is the messenger of the ‘outside’ or the ‘inside’ of the body. Meaning, how does the dancing body simultaneously reject meaning and carry meaning?

At any case, Godder is insisting on the urge to perform and puts on stage the body that knows that it cannot unravel the entanglement of this chasm. The everlasting “failure” to determine where dance comes from inspires her Performance to charge the stage. As Godder’s dance “fails” in creating ‘the Performance’ as a solution to these questions it appears in its glory. Depleting ‘the Performance’ of “success” allows the body to investigate its multiple possibilities to perform.

All of this does not imply that ‘the inside’ disappears. On the contrary: while the ‘outside’, the dancing body, appears in its plasticity as a multiple and supple material – something of the ‘inside’ is registered on to it. This does not mean that the body dances the ‘inside’. The body is not a specific identity-trait of the ‘inside’, nor is the ‘inside’ an essential content to be represented in the dancing body. But, the ‘inside’ is seen as the passion of the body to perform the dance and simultaneously appear within dance. If so, the only identity that one can discern in Godder’s dance is the passion to perform – the urge to be entangled. This identity is the ‘inside’ which unites all the partners of the theatrical event. Because it does not refer to an individual identity that each may possess and subsequently be distinguished by. Since, as she desires to perform we desire to witness. Godder’s dance is a joined celebration of the entanglement that demonstrates great belief in the power of the desire to perform for an audience.

This how Godder’s dance is ‘facing (the) inside'[1].

How is Godder ‘facing (the) inside’ this time around?

A first clue is found in the title of the new work – See Her Change.

Obviously, on stage we see three women – so, who is this Woman that we are commanded to see change?

The Woman is what cannot distinguish between a particular Woman and a community of women. Meaning, Godder does not portray a political tale of girl-power, nor a touching feminine biography. But the Woman is the ‘inside’ of the theatrical event, because her dancing body registers the most “internal” thing to dance – the desire to perform the body.

Godder’s Woman is seeking after possibilities of signifying her body – circus, mask or burlesque – and through these she dances her change, the change we are commanded to see. The ‘inside’ of the Woman remains unfamiliar, because she is not this or that. We are only ‘facing (the) inside’ of the Woman. ‘Facing (the) inside’ of the body that is changing by using signs, gestures and meanings. If so, the change that the Woman goes through is not one and final, but it is the constant movement of dance. Like that, and if only for a moment, we are presented with the ability to recognize the reality of the changing body without being pushed to impose meaning upon the Woman.

To facilitate change the Woman makes herself ridiculous while using many tricks and cons. But do not be mistaken, she does not scorn us, nor herself. The Woman scorns the Performance, which might halt her change. Self-ridicule is only reflecting the changing-body which rejects a fixed identity but celebrates ‘facing (the) inside’. Despite her desire to change, Godder’s Woman knows that she is not exempt from our identifying look that imposes meaning. Unfortunately, we cannot but do so. The Woman knows that and still she commands us to SEE HER CHANGE. The command expresses her subjection to the ‘law of our look’ that imposes meaning, but also that not all of her is subordinated. She is subjected to it but she has some freedom from it. Consequently, the meaning of ‘facing (the) inside’ of the Woman is not an expression of complete freedom that people think they possess due to their ‘inside’. As she commands, she knows that her change is still subjected to audience supervision. But still, something of the freedom of Godder’s dance is given to us when ‘facing (the) inside’ of the Woman evades the law of our look.

And so, Godder’s Woman teaches us something about the practice of dance. Because she always desires to perform the conduit that allows a touch between the dance and its audience; between ‘facing (the) inside’ and the ‘outside’ of the changing body; between being subjected to the gaze which imposes meaning and our eternal evading movement away from it.


[1] Can be read as facing the ‘inside’, but also as giving the ‘inside’ a face