Two things: First one is news that I’m working with my fellow cohort member Lindsey Griffith to create videos, maintain, and update the unofficially official Instagram and YouTube channel for Towson’s MFA Theatre program. You will notice that not much information has been added to these places just yet, but a blank page is always a great place to start. Stay tuned for some really great updates from Brecht, Gertrude Stein, and the rest of the cohort!
Second thing is a video of site-specific choreography by Aline David. As I continue to think about site in my own work, I’ve noticed that many examples I’ve found have documented performances specifically for video. This one below is no exception as it utilizes jump cuts and helps situate the audience firmly in a viewing area. Although the intent to video tape is clear, it still feels as though I’ve walked in on something a bit more private, almost as though she’s not performing for the audience but for the space itself.
Annie-B Parson is a choreographer based in Brooklyn most known for her work in modern dance and immersive theatre. Similarly to de Keersmaeker, Parson approaches choreography through form but differently she is not interested in the emotional underpinnings of the movements or the dancer’s being carried away by their experiences. She has been quoted as saying she doesn’t like modern dance for this reason, even though her dances are still classified as such.
I came across her work because I am a huge fan of St. Vincent (Annie Clark) and learned that Parson choreographed St. Vincent’s last tour as well as her collaboration with David Byrne. I found out in this New Yorker article about her new album and her general process. What’s interesting to me is vocabulary Parson developed for St. Vincent taking into consideration that Annie Clark would be playing guitar the entire show. Parson begins to address a question I often ponder: how do you move a band’s performance into performance art when capabilities are limited due to music demands (have to sing into mic, length of chords to amp, both hands occupied by guitar, etc)?
Proxemics is a term coined by Edward T. Hall describing the study of the “personal bubble” or the amount of space that people feel necessary to set between themselves and others. Hall felt this study was not only valuable in interpersonal communication but directly connected “the organization of space in [their] houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of [their] towns”. Hall was especially interested in identifying cultural differences in relation to personal space. He used biometric concepts (smell, touch, temperature, etc) to organize and explore the ways people interacted in space and invented a pictorial and numerical system to note variations in interaction. The video below gives a brief overview of his work in proxemics.
Interestingly, I was first introduced to the concept of proxemics through a book on improvisational choreography titled The Intimate Act of Choreography by Lynne Anne Blom and L. Tarin Chaplin. In the book, Blom and Chaplin cover many ways to consider space including stage space, geometry, environment, floor pattern, personal space, and many others. They write about considering space an active participant within the choreography and also address how choreography can violate dancer’s sense of personal space by forcing other dancers into closer proximity than they would allow outside of the studio.
Hall, Edward T. (October 1963). “A System for the Notation of Proxemic Behavior”. American Anthropologist. 65 (5): 1003–1026. doi:10.1525/aa.1963.65.5.02a00020
Hall, Edward T. (1966). The Hidden Dimension. Anchor Books.
As I’ve started working through The Intimate Act of Choreography by Blom and Chaplin, I can’t stop thinking about the potential of hands, the potential of isolating any body part and discovering how much I don’t know about it. The hands are especially interesting to me because many cultures believe the hands hold innate healing powers, beliefs that go back many centuries. An example of this are Mudras, which are hand positions that are said to influence the energy of your physical, emotional, and spiritual body. The Mudras were practiced in the East by many spiritual leaders including Buddha and are still used in meditation and yoga practices today. At Forever Conscious, they outline some of the most common ones including Gyan Mudra, which brings peace, calm, and knowledge.
Also included here is an excerpt of a piece by Pina Bausch, which demonstrates isolating the hands in dance. It reminds me a bit of Trisha Brown’s Accumulations in it’s repetition and progression but is far less mathematically structured.