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.

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

Conducting the One Hour Study: My research experience

I recently conducted a dance research experiment, formulating a hypothesis to guide a study of the body in 60 minutes. For my study I wanted to use long exposure photography to track movement over time. For my specific research I chose to photograph a small phrase, and then retrograde the same phrase (dancing it from end to start rather than start to end) and take a photograph of that movement. I wanted to see if the two images, one dancing start to finish and the other finish to start, created the same movement picture. And with this study I hypothesized that my pairs of images would look the same. In an earlier post I have created a gallery with the 20 images my study created.


Continue reading

Dance: A Never-Ending Topic of Research

This past week, our Seminar class has had different faculty members come in to talk about their research, and about dance research in general. We heard from Harmony Bench, Bebe Miller, Norah Zuniga Shaw, and Candace Feck. Each person was equally excited about their research, and each project was entirely different. And the range shown in the research opportunities through dance was the most important thing that I have taken away from this week. Hearing from these artists, I am reassured that there will always be something new to explore in the dance field and a way to dive as deep as I want to answer any question. The dance research lectures have inspired me to question dance in every way I can. Whether that means asking how I can move in a new way or taking a critical eye to dance as an institution, every part of this thing that I love deserves proper analysis. Continue reading