A proposal Frank sent to Yellow Springs Institute, January 1987:
RAPTURE – A SPASTIC BALLET
Can someone who cannot walk, or even stand, be the center of a modern ballet? Can someone who cannot speak sing an emotional opera that will pull the audience into his reality? Can someone make what is normally seen as physical limits become the gateway to erotic grace and beauty?
I am that someone.
“Rapture – A Spastic Ballet” will be a 90-minute live performance combining dance, poetry, pre-recorded electronic music, and live and pre-recorded singing/chanting.
During the days of preparation and rehearsal, I will teach my cast of two dancers and a chanter, my noise language … how to sing like babies, like madmen, beyond words to feelings, then create a soundtrack of over-dubbed musical sounds, performed solely by myself, and a non-verbal abstract chant/wailing, which will be based on my noise language. I will teach the dancers my spastic movements. With these movements, to this intense abstract soundtrack, we will create a complex dance. This dance will use lights as another medium of emotional language.
When the audience enters the theatre, I will be nude in my wheelchair, moving awkwardly, making noises. These noises slowly become singing to the soundtrack. The two dancers appear as images of myself … but they quickly become extensions of my body, picking me up out of my chair … lifting me into a freeing dance of swirling, rocking, rubbing, rolling, flying, swinging, laughing. Throughout the chanter will be reading my poetry over the soundtrack. At certain points, audience members will be invited to be actively involved in the dance … to hold me … to rock with me.
The end of this ballet of rapport will be a bright web of ribbon, cellophane, and tinfoil connecting me, the audience, and cast all together.
The kind of art in which I am interested is art that causes change, that heals, that threatens, that unites, that subverts, that destroys limits and breaks taboos. I am not interested in doing art that comforts, decorates, entertains. In my performances, in my workshops, and in my lectures, I am trying to go back to the time when art was the magical, irrational, non-logical channel of active impact … when art was not just an object of passive viewing. I focus on live direct art for this end.
When we trace art to its primal roots, it combines with science and religion to form the primitive mans’ occult tool to influence both the natural and the supernatural worlds. It involved both private and communal rituals with no audience except the gods and demons.
In my work, I try to create an environment in which the line between consciousness and the subconscious can be temporarily erased, where the power of taboos is released so that personal and social change can be magically induced. The artist in this intensely intimate work is a conductor focusing and guiding the ritual forces. This is an avant-garde art, a revolutionary art.
In this kind of art, my body gives me a definite advantage. It links me to the wounded healer, the deformed shaman. By combining this with performance tactics, I combine realities to create awake dreams.
Of course, my kind of art is not mass media, trendy or fashionable. It is just idealistic …. Definitely not a money-maker.
But I have always thought art should be a calling, not a career.