The Small Dance (2011) is a collaborative translation from text to movement. The performance is collaborative in the sense that there are multiple translators, but also in the sense that the translators were given open access to dialogue with the author. Beyond dialogue, the author exercised no constraints on the autonomy of these translations. The text for this translation performance is Chris Martin’s long poem, “The Small Dance,” which takes its name from a choreographic technique by dance pioneer Steve Paxton and can be found in Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press 2011). For this performance, the translators are Lydia Bell, Sarah White, Eric Conroe, Erin Cairns, and Colleen Hooper. 

above: documentation of performance translation

below: details of video projections in this performance and excerpt from Chris Martin's The Small Dance 

A whole system of gravitational muscles, whose action for the most part eludes conscious attention and will, is responsible for assuring our posture: these muscles maintain our equilibrium and permit us to stand without having to think about it.  It so happens that these muscles are also those which register the changes in our affective and emotional state.  Thus, every modification of our posture will intersect with our emotional state, and reciprocally, every affective charge will bring with it a modification, however imperceptible, in our posture.


—Hubert Godard






In the same way

                           music disturbs

         a silence

                           that never was

We find parts

         of ourselves torn into


frays of sonic excess


and others snarled in the convolutions

                  of an always already


         choreographed world


I do a small dance only                  to find it



                do a so

                           simple step and end


         up staggering in





The poor own the clouds

and we love them for it





I was out interviewing clouds                   amassing

         the notes of a sky pornographer                  while patches


of the city subnormalized

by fear of fear         like a reef bleaching closed


I took to the streets

                           looking for a human velocity


         feeling                   disequilibrium


                                    heavy in the abundance

                           of summer light

the silent apathy                  

of stars         which is neither

                                             silent nor apathetic

I          am          becoming                            weather         


I don’t         

plan on doing

it alone






Most stay testing                           the gray

         balloon brains of their


                  we swell

                                    It’s Sunday                   a cat erupts


on the nightstand and wine

                           moves into the socks


Spent the afternoon ogling

         mugshots at the precinct


                  so many torn

                                             out eyes

There was a movie on tv


about dudes                                    blowing other dudes




                  Outside a quick quivering bird took

refuge in a length of pipe

                                    Being a thing it bursts

                                    into events





Sure I was a molecule

accumulating talk

         I came to this wanting

                                                      to say something


small about being

                  with you

         an awkwardness beneath gasoline

                           each weird hospitality flung

                                    into the mouth of a passing bird


we woke refurbishing the war                  a rabbit that blooms


in my ears                           the man loves art because


                  he is an egoist         in my ears         he is an egoist


Today is something thrown and awaiting