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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Liquid Dance and Muay Thai Lipidity and Slow Time Dilation

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Sometimes I stroll well outside of my usual study of the things I love, into realms I know not a lot about, but in them I see patterns and principles that I love in Philosophy, and in the higher tradition of Muay Thai. This last few days when I was feeling under an unusual amount of distress, so much so that I couldn't keep up with my common strains of thought, I stumbled onto this video of dancer MARQUESE SCOTT.

Judging from the comments it was an extremely famous dance video from eight years ago, something that introduced Dubstep music to many of the viewers back then, so I am very clearly coming to it quite late. But it just struck me...HARD. I want to talk about what I saw in it, that I also see in the best Muay Thai that I absolutely love, and that Sylvie and I work to document and preserve. Watch it though with earphones on.

There's a lot of things that go into this. I've since watched maybe 25 of his videos which have mixed levels of quality, only a few reaching the level of this "most viewed" one. First of all, as an amateur film maker the composition and color grades are just beautiful. The rigidity of the lines, the stone "box" that he moves in just amplifies his blue liquidity and movement. He leaps out. But...really spoke to me was his choreography, how it expressed so thoroughly his years, and years, and years of work on his body. The pauses, the slowdowns, the sensations, the illusions of the music moving directly through him. It is alchemical, how so much work on the body, so much error, then produces weighlessness. This is the true transcendent art of the fighter. That there is so much real work, that the sword is beaten and melted so many times, that it eventually produces a very sharp and flexibly blade that cuts air. There is so much more to this performance to speak of - the narrative, the facializations, the way he is himself, and not himself - but I don't want this to be a critique. It's just that in seeing this I see what I see in a Karuhat fight or highlight. The same transmutations. Maybe you'll see them too?

The next two are also pretty incredible, and for me kind of open up elements that are complexly contained in the first:

This one is performed in Mumbai, and kind of blew my mind. We know of Muay Thai in Thailand, traditionally, it is a performance of Masculinity. In fact hyper-masculinity (you can read more about that here). In this incredible video we see the dancer's incredible masculinity (the sharpened sword of his dance, his liberty) performed in a street of uncomprehending group masculinity. His flight along the music, in arduous the pathways of practice as a dancer, is just incredibly, beautifully, really almost painfully juxtaposed. It is in a way that the artist/fighter is always alone in his/her performance, to some degree, on his/her own flight. And, how the social group is almost challenged, befuddled and stiffened by the performance. The imitation of the one breakdancing local becomes a bookend that opens up what the performance meant. And, because we can hear the music (and they likely cannot), the dancer is closer to us than them.

This last one, earphones are important, ascends with the aesthetic development within the first video. The freedom, affect & narrative elements in Pumped Up Kicks is just deepened through the confines within he is expressing himself. Not unlike the liberty expressed by Ali in the confines of space, or Samart in his famous head movement clip (below). It's more than this. It's the way that he can narratively express the emotions of the song in such a confined real, the strictures of the walls being the strictures of society and life's demands.

Time Dilatations

One of the more beautiful aspects of his dance style are his time dilations, when he suddenly drops down into a different slow space, that is somehow truer than the common one taken by the music. This is so much like elite fighters who surely are also feeling Time slow down. Looking at Karuhat's highlights you'll see these time dilations:

These shifts in tempo and slowdowns are what you see in absolutely masterful fighters. They are performing the transcendence of combat itself, the opponent, and ultimately the ropes of the ring. It is the precious under-element of great fighters, how they slow down fighting, are outside of its tempo. While dancers do this with music and the physical constraints of their body, and the dance space, fighters do this with the same, and within the affect space of fear, anger, pain and shame

Samart: https://web.facebook.com/watch/?v=1703216029712520

Ultimately for me, what Marquese Scott's filmed dance performances do is they unfold beautiful elements within fighting, that are often occluded by the flash/bang of how it is often conducted, and certainly how it is promoted and digested/consumed by fan bases. Sometimes when you turn to another artform, you can look into one's own art form, as if through a lens. Peering into it. I see, when he moves and chooses just endless training, training done through the personal joy of his for music, for dance. Slow motion capture of fighters is something like this as well, below examples:

 

 

 

The full slow motion playlist

 

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