I arrived in the US in 1996 after living in Paris for twenty years. I wanted a ‘tabula rasa.’ I was against institutions—the idea of a company—and just wanted to improvise. So I focused on improvisation for a few years while also practicing Qigong for four hours to six a day in addition to teaching performers my methodology. I was experimenting with the effect Qigong had on my movement practice. In 2001, I became interested in looking again at what producing a piece might mean. At this time, I had quite an amazing base of performers as students and the classes were charged with energy. I remember Arturo Vedich, DD Dorviller, David Thomson, Melanie Maar, Amy Cox, Oren Barnoy, Larrisa Sheldon, CC Cheng, and many others. It was an extremely exciting moment to feel the potency of transmission and how it manifested in all of these people.

Robert and I were also quite active in the poetry world and there I meant Madeline Gins. I admired her very much and it felt as if her writing was about my own work—a journey into the experience of bodymind and language. Madeline introduced me to Helen Keller with her book Helen Keller or Arakawa 2 , and I began to look into Keller's life and work.

How matter comes into form in nature, movement, meaning, architecture and language has fascinated me and this was always at the core of my inquiries. Helen Keller’s account of her experience as a deaf-blind person encouraged me to rethink the question of perception from scratch. When I say scratch, I mean from outside the phenomenological perspective of 20th century Europe. This allowed me to link the question of experience and the making of meaning with the internal alchemical practice of Qigong as taught in Mantak Chia’s system of the Universal Healing Tao. For instance, Helen Keller’s descriptions of colors and energy were strikingly similar to what I was experiencing with eyes closed during my internal practices. This confirmed in a very concrete way the interdependency of our beings and our environment: we—all of us—are constituted of basic dynamic agents interfacing with each other via obstruction, precipitation, vacuuming, repletion and flow. The senses, and our orifices join inner and outer experience, we perceive according to the relationship between our organism and our mind. Cognition is a layered process located throughout our organism. In 2001, I engaged in dialogue with Gins to make a piece based on Helen Keller entitled, ‘Every Atom Of My Body Is a Vibroscope.’

I began to work with Amy Cox as Helen. For our first rehearsal, I picked her up at the bus station in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, I blindfolded her and gave her earplugs for her ears. We walked to the studio and began a creative journey together that wouldn’t end until 2004. After many rehearsals conducted in this manner, I asked Amy to remove the blindfold. I needed her to feel, both viscerally and conceptually, the interrelation between her body, her mind and the environment. She worked to find the means to express this dynamic in terms of ‘forming agents’ constructing movement and meaning itself. Amy was the first dancer with whom I developed a method of transmission following the very long period—almost 4 years—of disciplined introspection as a performer.

Compelled to go deeper into the exploration of the influence of sensory perception on our initiation of movement, I spent one week meditating in the dark in 2006. I came back wanting to explore how the agent of water and its correlation with female energy, hearing, sexuality, bones and the bladder could manifest as movement and influence the dynamics between performers. I researched the way sound affects water on the molecular level and, since our organisms are made of water, how it affects our diverse systems. I wanted to start from the inner experience of the performer in order to have a tangible point of reference. I used the piece of music ‘Clocks and Clouds,’ by Giorgio Ligeti, which once had a profound effect on me at a concert in Paris. The performers rehearsed while being blindfolded for 3 months. I asked them to listen and feel the impetus this music seized within them—without engaging movement—in order to keep sourcing intention, initiation and manifestation. These three principles became a foundation for me to transmit to others. Each are layers of the nature of the expression of movement. Here, the word expression refers to how embodiment manifests. One beautiful aspect of this process was how the dancers engaged with each other’s bodies; there was no apprehension of where a hand would land from the one touching nor the one being touched. There was an organic fluidity that was deeply sensual. I observed how the music was, all at once, forming them physically, emotionally, causally, psychologically, and intellectually. I noticed tendencies—nonlinear loops of intention, initiation and manifestation—and they went fully into movement. This looping can also happen all at once as a form of absolute seize.

Qigong was at the base of this work sourcing the kidney/water/sexual energy and the result was something I had never experienced before. The dancers had a trust and fearlessness—a commons—manifesting uniquely in each performer. It was a visceral work in a minimal setting on a mylar 3 floor. Unfortunately, this piece never really saw its full version (or maybe this was it!) due to the curator backing out unexpectedly. I once accidentally called this piece, ‘Cocks and Clouds’ and kept it this way.

I could not escape the question, ‘What would it look like to remake this piece?’. Should the focus be on the process or on the result? Both? The process itself might give a completely different result with different dancers and different working conditions. If the question for me is how form and meaning arise, what happens when we start from form and then embody it instead of waiting for form to arise out of process? The question still remains, why remake this kind of process-oriented work? Looking to traditional movement forms to investigate embodiment, I see core principals paradoxically conditioning and deconditioning at once–setting the subject unbounded.

I do resent being categorized as a process artist! What isn’t process-based and what isn’t complete? Who is to decide but oneself? Questioning how movement has its own sense of accomplishment and transcendence. Can a choreographer now make the statement that movement is in itself the completion? Why do people think of movement as abstractions without the apparatus? It’s true for me, coming from a theatrical background, that I can’t help being in the narrative of what things are, even though the narrative isn’t linear and comprehensible. There is mattering in everything at every moment, that in itself is the narration. To own a slice of ‘reality’ is to see it as a complete instance: the present, say. But then past, present and future are one, and to see this convergence in the dancers is when embodied form is at its most vivid.

In 2006, I went to Greece to teach and ended up staying there for almost six months. Robert joined me after two months. This was one of the most beautiful periods of my life. After two months by myself I felt entirely new. The sun, the sea, the landscape, the wind, the solitude (no WiFI, no radio, no TV, no cell phone), and the little house in the wildness of the island. All contributed to clear my soul. Robert arrived with tons of books on Asclepios and was determined to visit Asclepion sites. It was an adventure which laid the foundation for the creation of the Prosodic Body. Our revelation involved the interdependence between what is called the ‘Abaton’ or dream incubator where individuals conducted Asclepion practices in the dark and also in the daytime, in ancient Greek theater, a collective experience. This juxtaposition between individual healing as epiphany in the dark and collective catharsis in the daylight with theater gave us permission to let our respective healing practices coexist together in transparency and coherently feed each other. It also allowed us to think about social, healing performance as one. And Robert began a long inquiry into the history and social understanding of ‘the commons.’ That same year I went to a darkroom retreat at the Universal Tao Garden. This unique experience in the dark allowed me to experience the question of relative and absolute reality from a completely different perspective. My sense of timespace shifted internally and outwardly. The separation between body and mind/spirit became acutely tangible. When we came back to NYC we received a 9 month residency from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council which laid out the foundation of our collective endeavors toward the manifestation of the Prosodic Body as our umbrella for our research in prosody.

From this experience Robert and I felt the necessity to share our research and explore it symbiotically with others. This led us to create our music/ theater/dance company, at the time it was called the Phoneme Choir which later became The Commons Choir. We would meet with people to practice phonemes as a vibratory, vocal embodied experience. Eventually this process generated full operatic form based on using the complexity of language as a holistic embodiment of prosody to assert both individual history and human kinship—and to undo any perceived binary therein.

The work was practice-oriented and we had no ambition to create productions. We had many performances in non-theater settings, they often included lectures, exhibitions, and collective inquiries. The basis of the work was to welcome anyone who was willing to participate. We gathered people from very different backgrounds and origins around the theme of the commons.

No money was involved between us. We were experimenting with what prosody 4 meant, and deciphering where language comes from. The research was rigorous, fun and brought a committed group of people together. The group varied from 15 to 30 individuals and we performed spontaneously.

In 2018, after 10 years working almost exclusively as the co-director of The Commons Choir I felt a need to reorient my focus as a solo performer.

I began thinking about Landing Sites as a kind of nonlinear retrospective of my journey in New York. In the process of doing so, I realized how, at the core of my life and work, a deeper introspection was necessary to look at the thread of this quite disparate trajectory. It’s interesting to realize that, no matter how wide your spectrum of interest is, at the core there is a root question branching out in multiple directions. A sort of rumination of the same thing over and again permeating in different layers of being. And working with form differently and informing our central life force. How and where these inquiries come from are not always stable reference points, especially embracing that our mind is potentially all and nothing. These inquiries don’t always arrive from stable reference points, especially when embracing the sensation that our minds are potentially all and nothing simultaneously. But, we do navigate between absolute and relative realities, which is how we find the inner space to move meanings around, and deal with the surprising aspects of perception, as what is perceived is not always what is expected. At this juncture of my life and work, it’s a good time to look at this without anticipating what it will bring about as a ‘complete’ work. So, I have zeroed in on an exploration of the experience of reality—it is convenient, as everything can be approached from this perspective. I use Helen Keller as a reference point to remember that meaning, knowledge, experience, and reality are processed through different modalities of being: emptying, tuning in, researching, listening, doing, not doing, invoking,—all actually happening at once in non-linear loops. Even if our experience tells us otherwise and whether we are aware or not of what and how we select what creates our experience–– the boundless nature of things is to accept the relativity of reference points to release what is held within and abandon oneself to transformations. It is the sum of inputs processed through variations of modalities that come together to reveal what we believe is happening. For this reason I like to juxtapose the words Contemplation and Action in my work as a choreographer, director, and teacher, to access a non-dual state, both receptive and active, anchored in the process of unceasingly emptying as expression spontaneously arises. This non-dual state allows us to see what arises as a language in formation while it happens. I am referring to language as anything that manifests through our awareness as thought, movement, speech, vocalization, pathos, and so on.

As a performance maker, solos as a form of study have been a significant part of my journey from the start. The first solo work, ‘Iritis,’ was a way for me to attempt harnessing the wild and extreme energy of youth. I remember moving or rather throwing my head forward and back—completely loose—for quite some time and an audience member telling me “it was so intense it seemed like your head was bouncing from one side of the church to another!” Or, coming back from India and trying to make sense—in my body—of five years studying Baratha Natyam 5 which culminated in a six-month trip in India. Deconstructing its language and its correlation with temple architecture to find an Inner Structure 6 that I could apply to my work. Or later, my study of 17th century French gardens and modern architecture, analyzing the mutual influences between human behavior and architecture. And on that same trajectory the study of theater architecture became important to understand the representation of the body within it and its symbolism.

The work became progressively more about the body in the universe with the study of Chinese energetics which has served to connect all of the previous studies. These successive studies brought this understanding of ‘Contained and Absolute Space’, a way to articulate the relativity of reference points in the dynamics and interdependencies of inner and/or outer movement to explore how the moving body comes into awareness and manifests its awareness. The common denominator of all the work is a curiosity for how things come about and our perception of them. This in itself takes many forms.

To uncover part of a layer of my being as an immigrant living in the U.S., I worked for ten years as the co-director of The Commons Choir seeking to understand what living in the US meant. The Commons Choir was a dive into the history of the United States, and my way to deal with its difficulty and complexity was to find a way for a group of individuals to meet and embody together its myths and let it express itself in the form of tragedies.

The journey in the making of patch the sky with 5 colored stones, aka Landing Sites, began at BkSD 7 during a residency when I faced myself in the studio, questioning what it meant to be alone without The Commons Choir as a mover, a dancer. In questioning the experience of reality, it took me awhile to come to the obvious understanding that, in fact, movement is the simplest instance of reality—the earth spins—there is the cosmic reality of movement. As I move I am reminded that we are part of a larger reality. This is acknowledged in a lot of traditional dances throughout the world. I began to focus particularly on traditional Indian dances and dramas. With Shiva, one is reminded that movement within is interdependent with the movement of the universe. It was then easier for me to accept that ‘that’s one thing I will do.’ I like to do what generates energy and movement within or without. From this premise I had to find the essence from which I can nourish this body of mine and reconnect with its core necessities.


1 Landing Sites is a term borrowed from Madeline Gins: “landing sites” provide very helpful handles on the first-hand infinite of what goes on as being we, either I or us.

2 Helen Keller or Arakawa Burning Books, Santa Fe, 1994

3 Mylar: a reflective surface

4 “prosody: in its broadest sense, prosody is interrelationship. It’s both verbal and nonverbal communication. It’s the impulse with which we express. It expresses the impulse. It is also, of course, the musical elements of poetry composition—cadence, pause, silence, stress, enjambment, meter, measure, beat, rhyme, and so on”. From Supple Science by Robert Kocik

5 Baratha Natyam: South Indian classical dance

6 Inner Structure and Contemplative Action are two aspects of Faïn’s teaching.

7 Brooklyn Studio for Dance founded by Pepper Fajans 2015-2019