A Series on Discipline
As someone who recently graduated from university, the notion of being ‘disciplined’ has been on my mind quite a bit lately. How does one, truly, become self-disciplined? What I’ve been noticing, more and more, is the distinct dichotomy discipline encompasses: self-discipline vs. discipline from an authoritative figure. Discipline from someone else may feel rigid, pressured, and perfectionistic, but self-discipline can allow for freedom. This is what I wanted to convey in the following series; the b&w images reflecting exterior discipline, and colour representing discipline from within. While interviewing a long time friend of mine on her experience with teaching dance, it became more and more evident the presence of this dichotomy.
The following is the story of ‘H.E.R.’ a routine choreographed and performed by Katie Knudson.
/ Lehman Pekkola /
"When I started working on this routine I had in mind a specific dancer, and this dancer had requested that I do a word story; someone talking rather than singing in a song. She thought she could connect to it more, and that it would be unique for her to compete with. I ended up researching the artist Rous and found their song ‘H.E.R’ I was immediately connected to it. The story is about a man dealing with extreme OCD and his girlfriend, who felt like his problems, emotions, and illness were too much for her. Going through a lot of my own anxiety, seeking counselling, and at the same time working with people dealing with their mental illnesses [through nursing school] it really felt full circle that not only was I working with mental illness in my professional and personal life, but my artistic life as well. I wanted to bring light to this story.
H.E.R.’ felt like a release, and that’s what dance essentially is for me, it is a release and an opportunity for me to tell what’s going on in my soul to the rest world, letting go of it and not continuing to harbour those feelings. My student and I had been working on this piece together for about four months, when I noticed that she had changed the way in which she was dancing. Much less heartfelt than before. We tried to talk through and find new motivations. At some point she told me that this story was too big, that it was too much emotion; mature emotion she was unable to grasp. She expressed that she was really struggling and that she couldn’t connect to the story anymore. What was right for her - and fair to the piece - was to leave it. Walk away from it and not perform it. She never competed with it and never performed it on stage. It felt devastating because I wanted to share this piece, I wanted to see it on stage, I wanted to see it go somewhere and for people to experience it. But now, I’m able to use this piece in a completely different way.
Her giving up the routine almost makes the story more endearing to me. Resurfacing the work has made me even more connected to it now: it’s the first piece I have choreographed and [now] performed. It’s not me giving it away to another dancer anymore, I was able to perform the routine in my own right. Thinking on the theme of discipline, it all comes back to self discipline for me, and how self discipline can be so rewarding … even energising to the soul. That’s exactly how I’ve felt through this process. For me as an artist, coming back to my self discipline has been crucial. Oftentimes I end up being the exterior discipline; to my dancer who was learning this routine, to other people, to teaching my students on a daily basis. It reminds me of what this self discipline truly feels like. How essential it is for your mind, body, and soul as an artist."
/ Katie Knudson /
Location: Independence Dance Project
Interview from May 2017