Gesture Study

For my final project of Composition 1 I created a study on gestures. As a class we were each tasked with composing a 2-3 minute solo that we presented to the entire class at the end of the semester. To begin, I brought 3 gestures into class to play with.

1. Rubbing my back

2. Stroking an imaginary goatee

3. Putting my hands in pockets

From this point I used different compositional tools (exaggerating, minimizing, lengthening, transferring, or reversing to name a few) to play with my gestures. I created movement from these original three, and throughout the course of my time developing my study, an entirely new story emerged. Please enjoy “Showing Face”.


Freshman Composition

I have choreographed dances, but I had never taken a composition class before this past semester. As a part of the dance major we take Composition 1 and 2, 1 second semester freshman year and 2 first semester sophomore year. This was a new experience for me as I learned some tools and ideas to help guide the creation of movement.

Throughout the Composition 1 course, I was given different guidelines for “studies”, or works I was to create compositionally. (One study was a site-specific work to be created inside Sullivant Hall. Check it out here.) We were given points inspiration to give specificity to our movement creations as well as tools to enhance our natural movement tendencies. And along the way through each study we would present snippets to our classmates and get feedback from both them and Michael Kelly Bruce, the instructor of our course.

Through this process I learned different ways to shape my natural movement tendencies, with movement dynamics and timing, playing with different facings and orders of movement, and more broadly looking at movement spatially. And within these areas of play I most importantly learned that whatever I originally create is not automatically finished just because it has been created. With new material that I generate I can use these compositional tools, of space, time, dynamics, repetition, etc., to go back and enhance what I have already created.

One of the reoccurring problems I have faced when composing movement is the creation of a beginning, an ending, and a solid through-line throughout the piece. I can generate movement that I find satisfying to perform forever, but different sections won’t make sense together, or they won’t necessarily begin or end. I, in essence, have found that I am good at making up the fragmented pieces of a possible whole. So throughout Composition 1, especially towards the end for my Gesture Study, I worked to create a study that had a satisfying beginning, through-line, and end.

What I mean by a “satisfying” beginning is movement that has a definitive start. I am more fulfilled watching pieces where the movement has a clear reason for beginning, and therefore I aimed to create a study that began for a reason. Many of the studies I created throughout this course started in a standing position, on two feet with both arms down at my sides. It was simple, but for me I felt too balanced. And when I would begin to move I did not fully understand my point of initiation. However I was hesitant to begin my composition studies with an asymmetrical pose, where being off-kilter could have made for a clear reason to start, because it felt unnatural. How did I get to the pose, and shouldn’t that also be part of the dance?

Similarly endings tend to give me trouble because I want movement to end purposefully. And while for beginnings I need a clear point of initiation, for endings I strive for a clear stop to the movement. Endings may or may not be “satisfying” but as long as they are intentional, I can appreciate them.

And like I stated earlier, I am able to generate sections of movement somewhat easily, but the sections won’t have any relation to each other. Therefore throughout the semester I looked to find ways to generate a through-line throughout my composition studies. Knowing that these are the problems I tend to face when composing, it was both fun and challenging to try and work through them. Composition is a part of dance that I find interesting, and I hope to continue my studies in the subject throughout the rest of my career.

Got to have Constructive Rest!

I had the pleasure of taking Pilates Reformer as a somatic practice class this past semester, and as the school year has come to a close I am taking time to reflect on my experiences. Under the tutelage of Cristina Providence I learned Pilates Mat exercises as well as Reformer work, and her goal for the class was for us to take away a collection of Pilates exercises that we could organize into our own practices outside of the classroom. In order to achieve this goal, we learned Pilates not only as a physical practice, but as an outlet to understanding the holistic experience of the body as it interacts with the mind. Continue reading

Sullivant Steps: a Site-Specific Work

In Composition 1 class, taught by Michael Kelly Bruce, I was tasked to create a site-specific work within the Sullivant Hall building on The Ohio State University’s campus. I chose to work with the granite steps leading up to the Cartoon Library. The coloring of the stone paired with the simple architecture made for a stunning space, and the stairs created an unconventional stage that gave the piece texture.

For this work I chose to create an improvisational score, a base structure of tasks and qualities that fuel and inspire a dancer’s movement. I asked three dancers to work within the structure I created. My structure was this:

One dancer would travel down the stairs, moving quickly and more specifically, inspired mostly by the architecture of the space.

Two dancers would travel up the stairs, moving smoothly and slowly in a more minimalistic manner.

The three dancers would eventually meet in the center and meld together, playing with the space in between each other as well as with the stairs themselves.

They would break apart, and one dancer would continue down the steps as the other two continued up.

They would reach the end of the staircase and walk away.

And because this was a site-specific work I gave my audience permission to watch the dance from any angle, below the stairs, at the top of the stairs, or even right in the middle of the dance. I allowed them free reign to do as they pleased as the dancers worked through their score.

It was fun to create and watch my improvisational score being performed by others, as most of the composition I have done in the past has been works of set choreography. This was a new experience for me, but something that I definitely want to work with in the future.

Because I was unable to film the original version of I have attached two videos of myself dancing the different parts. In one you see the role of the dancer going down the steps and in the other you see both dancers traveling up the steps, both partsĀ omitting the group melding section of the score. These are informal videos, done with a little bit of editing for an alternate perspective of the piece as a whole.

Experiences in GarageBand

These last couple of weeks in Seminar we have been learning how to create music in GarageBand. We have been taught how to incorporate loops as well as sound from for music. In the first couple of sessions our class learned how to use GarageBand tools, and we investigated how to actualize our sound visions. After this we were introduced to soundscapes, the background noises that compose a scene. (Spoiler alert the horse galloping noises, and other scenery sounds, you hear in movies and TV shows are made artificially.) With this information we were asked to compose a scene, transporting listeners into the world of your soundscape. And finally, we were asked to put both of these music aspects now available to us into a single project.

For my final sound project I played with creating an atmospheric mood. I used mostly sound from freesound, but with added looping techniques to enhance the overall quality. These classes have helped me to listen more efficiently to the sounds around me, and I believe that learning how to create music has boosted my understanding of the relationship between music and dance. This was an entirely new experience for me, and I enjoyed learning the techniques behind music creation. I look forward to further my work in this field as we continue working in GarageBand through our Dance for Camera lessons.

The Link Between Subjects

BP Kinesthetic Empathy_edited-1

Mirror Neurons for Movement

Classes and rehearsals are keeping me busy, just the way I like it, and while we are four weeks into spring semester I feel as if no time has passed. (It’s true, time flies when you’re having fun.) What I find interesting is that in this semester I have learned the same concept articulated throughout separate courses. This concept is kinesthetic empathy. And because it is something I have learned about multiple times now, from different teachers’ perspectives, kinesthetic empathy is on my mind as I learn, create, and watch movement. Continue reading