30 October 2010

Dancer’s Primer

30 octobre, 2010

Dancer’s Primer draws from the improvisational studies inspired by my visit to the Buddhist Pantheon at the Musée Guimet. It is the third version; the first two are montages of buddhas and other ceremonial objects, shots of the water and bamboo from the outdoor Japanese Pavilion, and my improvisational dance. After playing with these sets of images, I felt compelled to add text, to make a more direct statement or presentation that encapsulated the poetics of what it is I have been embodying and committing to video during my stay here. So my little “primer”, user’s manual or basic reading textbook spells out my primary philosophy of dance. It also explores the visual dynamics and coordination of movement imagery and text as they appear on the same screen. A first, I had everything running simultaneously, assuming the viewer could take in (and make sense of) both my danced calligraphy and the written text all at once. When I showed a rough draft to my new friend Janet Wong (Associate Artistic Director of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Co. and video artist), she immediately commented that she was missing too much dance in order to follow the text. Aha!

So I attenuated the two realms, pulling them apart, allowing for text to appear at times before the movement (at the risk of making it look like dance was mere illustration of a concept, which I reject vehemently!) and at other times, providing the movement first, with text wandering in, resting at the sidelines or dancing its own little dance in gentle counterpoint.  Click here.

When I teach screendance with my colleague Terri Sarris, we talk often about broadening the definition of dance for the camera to embrace all movement. In this spirit of inclusion, I will also upload an addendum to the Dancer’s Primer (or is it an introduction?): a very short montage of imagery that includes NO dancing body.

We say things “dance” within our frame of vision: nature, water, trees, people, art. Can we say that these multiple moving pictures are dancing together? But where is the dancer’s image in this frame full of many frames? There is always a body there, whether we see one or are in the act of seeing while within our own bodies.

Before there can be a philosophy or theory of dance, there is a poetics: one that embodies the choices we make as to what we frame, and what happens within that frame. If we frame our dancing bodies, then we are also making choices in the act of dancing. Breath, weight, flow, time, space, style, form, composition… These are the dancer’s tools… and those of the camera person and editor as well. Click here for brief Preface to Dancer's Primer