LA PUNQ SYLPH
JENNIFER MARIE HOFF
This is some street-art punq performance, a relic of a dance. Rooted in ballet mythography, performed at 40th Street and West Street in Oakland, CA. Curated into WE Artspace’s annual “Paint by Numbers” show, the work took place at a day-long art and music benefit. On the sidewalk. A planned event. The movements realized during the course of the performance. The plan began with a skirt, a tutu made by incomparable Jenny Yang. Never been one to choreograph “in character,” but I put it on and become some 70s-punk incarnation of the Romantic-era ballerina, Marie Taglioni, aka La Taglioni, aka La Sylphide. Powerful immanence, her memory in my muscles. In my cleverness I name my character Marie Temescali, or La Temescali, for the area of Oakland called Temescal. Instead of hands drooping listlessly in front of chest, I cross my forearms in an x, hands in fists, over my heart. La Temescali is a trained dancer; she reassures her audience over and over, “it’s okay, I’m a trained dancer!” She shows off her moves. She’s got tendus, port de bras, arabesques, promenade en attitude, entrechat-quatres, fouettes en tournant, epaulement. She looks up. Her eyes change. Something changes in her, and her moves become different. Slower, then fast. She dances hard. Ballet in the Romantic era made young women look like airy, delicate wraiths. It was sexy. Ballet in the era of postmodernism expresses violence. It’s sex. I use movement to express my definitive, corporeal presence. The movements are sharp and harsh. They plunge to the earth. I throw myself toward the concrete, skin my knee, bang my ankle as I perform. “It’s okay, because I’m a trained dancer!” I fall into a trance-like state, forgetting the people and the stuff and surroundings, because I am just trying to do the most fantastic movements I can get myself to do. I look up and will my body to follow the most treacherous, gorgeous, painful course available. I kicked a box of beers, but I don’t learn about it until afterwards. I am real and powerful, the physicality that was lying in secret, wrath inside the wraith. I am left bloody and bruised, relieved.