Diving Down the Rabbit Holes

Part of where I believe “sophomore hell” comes in to play is that as second-year students in the dance department, we are required to take the intro level courses to the multiple aspects of dance we began to see emerge through Freshman Seminar. IMG_3642For me this includes History Theory Literature 1 (Dance History), Kinesiology, Movement Analysis, and Composition 2 alongside my movement practice classes. I’ve begun to call this “diving down the rabbit holes”, as I feel myself looking down deep pockets of possible exploration and knowledge as I take in each course. While I am busy with work, and face the challenges of accepting dance’s applications through desk work, I love my courses.

History Theory Literature 1, HTL 1 for short, is where I learn about dance’s past. We have limited our scope to investigate only the Western development of dance, and primarily the development of ballet in Europe, but there is so much here to learn that our field of study had to be confined so as to fit in one semester’s work. American concert dance today has roots in ballet. Because ballet came ‘first’ in the realm of European concert performance, essentially everything is a derivative of the techniques developed here. Studying the past is important to enrich my knowledge of what came before as I seek to develop a future that moves forwards while acknowledging the past.

Kinesiology, the study of the mechanics of a body in motion, is where I learn about the movement functions of my body. This is an important practice for those looking to go into Physical Therapy, but it is also essential to dancers and body workers of all kinds. Through my practice in this class, I have learned the planes of action for the body in its kinesphere, the bones, the muscles, and the movement chains (as described by Tom Meyers). The kinesphere is best visualized as the circle that surrounds the

Vitruvian Man extended into 3-Dimensional space, i.e. a sphere. I see the kinesphere as the standard for a personal space bubble, your “comfort zone” for movement, or the spherical space your body can reach without moving your feet. This knowledge, plus the added information of the specific bones and muscles in the body and their specific tasks, all works to better my movement patterns. This is because I am teaching my brain my body’s natural way to execute motion.

Movement Analysis is where we learn how to analyze and notate dance. I have learned about movement dynamic and effort qualities as described by Rudolf Laban I have learned to read and write in the dance notation systems Labanotation and Motif (Choreology) originated by Laban and further expanded by his disciples. I have read articles encompassing the different arguments occurring in the dance field today, pertaining mainly to dance’s relation to technology and the problems and gifts of reconstruction or recreation (they mean different things!). I have written scores for dictation purposes, where our teacher would dance a combination and we as the students had to write out what she did, and scores as choreographic tools aiming to generate movement outside of my comfort zone. I am currently in the process of reconstructing a piece of Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table (post on this project to come). This class has allowed me to explore a realm of dance I had never heard of before college, and it has given me the chance to fall in love with the analytical aspect of movement.

example of Labanotation from a graded class dictation

example of Motif Writing from a graded class dictation

example of Motif Writing from a graded class dictation

In Composition 2, Composition 1 I took Spring Semester of my first year, I work to further expand my choreographic knowledge as it pertains to making movement. I have thus far made three “weight studies” in resiliency, lightness and strength. I am now working on my final solo project (post and video to come). This course has provided me with more choreographic devices to play with as I compose, but I can apply the knowledge I have gained in HTL 1, Kinesiology and Movement Analysis to further inform my movement choices. Here I am learning how to explore movement that satisfies my curiosities. I am also learning to remain conscious of what viewers may see when they look at my movement.

This post is coming to my blog so late in the semester because while I had hoped to get one of this introductory type publicized in the beginnings of my second year… my courses are keeping me busy. 

I feel that each class provides insight to performative movement, dance practice, and the greater good of the dance field.
I am so grateful for the hard work that has been, and continues to be, required of me as I invest myself fully in each course.



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