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Ballet with a Twist

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Jill Johnson, forner Forsythe dancer in the Frankfurt Ballet, gave a technique class at OSU that used elements of ballet as a source for improvisation. The familiar movements made it easier for the class to feel free to play or discover new ways of executing that movement. I enjoyed how throughout the class she continued to question using “how” and “why”. How can we find new ways to execute this? Why can’t this traditionally codified movement be x? How can we bring the traditional to the present?

What I found most interesting was that alot of the improvisation that I was noticing and doing appeared to resonate a hip hop quality. The articulating spine, the loose but grounded legs. The music helped too set that theme for myself–haven’t heard JT in a while. This class brought to question the similarities between these two styles and how although they can at times be placed on opposite ends of the “high art/lowart” binary, there is something about the way these styles demonstrate the lines of the body in interesting ways.

Jill Johnson is currently working with Cedar Lake so I wanted to post a clip of them. If you notice, one of the female dancers, Ebony, is actually the one of the two back up dancers for Beyonce. They do installation work and that’s something right up my alley.

Oh dance…

Emotion,Space, and Smile

December 6, 2009 2 comments

There is something about this song that I find interesting and compelling. It’s relatable, but not everyone’s relation to this feeling is the same nor is the setting. This feeds into my interest of locating common themes in various social settings. It’s something that I’m still working on in my head, but it’s remarkable how an emotion can be tapped into because of its close relationship to a particular moment in time and space.

Choreographically, I’ve always used imagery of space to generate a particular tone or emotion that I wanted.  But now I’m wondering what would happen if I did the reverse? What would happen if I asked the dancers to remember a moment regarding an emotion and then asking them to relive that space, but not the emotion? I think I could use this as a method for movement exploration. Having the performers continue to work with that setting in various ways (those ways, I have no idea).

Here are the words:

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

The song is originally by Charlie Chaplin, and I’ve posted a clip of Janelle Monae singing it (check her out).


Oh dance…

What Comes First: Context or Movement?

November 16, 2009 3 comments

One of the things that I’m trying to find for myself as an outcome of this process is what I would like to generate first: the context or the movement. Some rehearsals I come in with a very set idea of what I want the movement to mean and other days we set movement and then layer on a contextual meaning. To be honest, I’m not really digging either approach. What I find most intriguing and promising is when movement is created without having some later application of meaning. Why should every movement mean something anyways? I don’t want every movement to answer why for the viewer. I want movements to generate images that generates moments in time that generates an experience (gotta love those run ons).

What I’m discovering is that I’m enjoying creating moments in time. Moments that are loaded with contextual meanings of their own right, they may share a common theme but are not generating a narrative. I think this growing interest is a result of my recent appreciation for Tere O’Connor’s work. I’m beginning to become  interested in the architecture of these moments that are being created in this process and  I’m excited to discover interesting ways of framing them in the dance.

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Choreography and I

October 31, 2009 1 comment

I’m in love with movement but choreography and I are having a tough time getting along. Movement for me is calm, understanding, and very easy going. While choreography is complexed, layered, moody, frustrating, and bitchy. This is why this blog is being created. It will help me deal with my anxieties as a choreographer as well as manage my problems that develop when I choreograph. This blog will help choreography and I get a better understanding of one another, so maybe by the end, I can slip into yet another identity: choreographer.

Movement and movements are my concern. I believe a moving body can generate, well, movements. Those movements can be political, personal, sexual, etc. I create work to generate movements. Now, this might sound rather smug of me -“I can change the world through dance”- but I do believe that the body is capable of articulating things that words can’t really express completely. I find that fascinating and is probably one of the main reasons that I continue to dance/choreograph.

Oh dance….

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