Performance at melkweg theater Amsterdam 2012
Concept Jihae Ko , Kay Patru
Why are we happy? Why aren’t we happy?
Can we manufacture it? Or is it something uncontrollable like the weather?
In this dance theater project, we have approached the subject by taking some cultural ideas around the theme and devised a step by step “happy program” to follow.
Some of our sources included Gille Deleuze’s talks on happiness, neuroscientist Dan Gilbert and his experiments on why do people feel happy, youtube videos of babies laughing, and various representations of this archetype on the internet.
We also invited a few colleagues to work with us for a period of one day and choreograph/exchange their views on the subject. The participants were Sylvain Meret with whom we did a shamanic journey to back to the beginning of the universe. Tabea Martin who shared her theater experience and invited us to explore the opposites of joy. Chris Leuenberger who specifically worked on physical actions representing joy. Pierre-Yves Diacon who explored with us the idea of a mindscape in which all our happiness could be encapsulated. And Volker Moritz who shared with us his experience as a sex therapist.
Gille Deleuze quoted Spinoza when talking about joy as resistance and life.
“Let’s avoid sad passions and live life in joy in order to be in our full power”.
He further defined joy as entering into color.
“Joy is like conquering a small piece of color. It is like entering into a color”
This quote was formative in our end research since we decided to literally enter into color by throwing Indian color powder at each other and transforming the studio into a colorful messy space. This act also in some way enabled us to enter uninhibited action such as the one you see in children playing, which in itself was liberating and empowering.
The work of neuroscientist Dan Gilbert inspired us to explore the idea of “synthetic happiness” which he defines has not getting what you want in life and making the best out of it. He further sees it as an evolutionary step in our species, a sort of survival mechanism, which enables us to cope with reality.
This idea was interesting to us because it clearly defined the everyday coping strategies we deal with as a people in our eternal pursuit of happiness. We communicated this idea in a theatrical setting by taking a real life story from a good friend of ours. He had just fought cancer for 4 months and during the whole ordeal showed an incredible strength of body and spirit. To our amazement he showed us how synthetic happiness works in real life practice. This story was incorporated in our stage dialogue.
We also worked on baby states. By working with loose bodies, giggling, laughing, being held in a gentle space where judgment does not exist yet. A sort of utopic state. We enjoyed this daily baby practice as our warm-up and tune-in mechanism. The tension created by adult bodies indulging into baby joy was theatrically interesting due to its dualistic quality.