Oct 26 Music sound gesture

Oct. 26 2009 Music sound gesture

Dancing to and beside music.
At some point, I have to deal with the music going on here.
Jonathan listened to his ipod while watching the work as we moved through last week. He was sorting and feeling out what was going to work best. I think it was Friday or Saturday when he played three music selections to the same movement sequence and asked the dancers how they felt and to hear the sound next to the image/kinaesthetic materiality. Two pieces did entirely different things: one a Bach fugue and the other electronic by a new music group out of San Francisco, (will get the name, sorry). Well two things happened, both worked but differently, and one of the Danscross works already has a Bach work on it. BUT, the fugue was spectacular with the movement because it charged the emotional side that the dancers have not really played with directly. See below

I THINK WE NEED TO STOP FACING THE MIRROR. In order to get out of the frontal gaze, the dancers need to be placed elsewhere to get the dance out of dance-hood or the proscenium stare.

Ok, so the Bach fugue channeled the emotional links from tender to silly but I think Jonathan also felt it could mask what else was going on and thus: the electronic work is now in place. As Jonathan also suggested, sometimes the music can run outside the dance and I was thinking how it streams and sometimes pushes the movement in interesting ways, but not forcefully. That is a problem though; the music does not create any kind of sound/body tension that can make a work really rich and provocative. The music seems to stand directly beside the dance.

Aside: the electronic choice can also make the dancers work very hard on an expressive encounter with each other and wherever
My last VOTE: This work grew out of these small moments of physical encounters with words/letters/sounds from poems and a play. It does not matter to me if those texts have been chewed and bitten and danced alive, but there were ecstatic moments that just no longer happen because the dancer does not speak the words… It was really wonderful when a sound/syllable/tone would hit the air and echo with the gesture. I would love even a whispered section or even one dancer doing that word/phase dance. It opened up the dancers’ vulnerability too because it is not something they do all the time. They are such brilliant dancers that sometimes they can sit back, away from their dancing and not tune in the way they did when the words made them be present.

Enough. I know the poly-stage is large but I have seen Pina Bausch send a dancer onto an opera sized stage and whisper making the entire theatre lean forward and reach for those syllables.
The encounter in language and gesture here is charged and nuanced because I remember the poems, the play texts, the choices made…

Tiechun
I walk in and the dancers have costumes on: I was concerned because this work needs costumes but I do not think they should look like Chinese Folk Dance costumes. They have big linen pants dyed so that the brown starts very dark and fades into the off-white.

I keep thinking of the things that are HUGE in Beijing: the Forbidden City, Tiananmen square, the new buildings like the National Performing Arts center (it’s a HUGE like a drop of water on the surface of the earth. Perhaps China wants to be BIG now, what does that mean?

Twists, like the Chung Guo Jie that is the woven/braided knot that is used in Chinese knotted hangings. Tiechun used every twist today: In one group encounter they hold hands and knit and unknot their bodies. Tiechun directed a powerful suggestion: lift through the weaving when you start, the chest should press forward up and over and then the limbs take over the ”twisted” distortion as he called it today. Keep the legs together, the knees in, tighter, concentrate, flow within that pretzel.

Back to those costumes and music
Tiechun is creating a world, the pants, the tops of with their layers of tucked and pleated off-white cloth, on the front of the shirts that are cut on diagonal necklines for the women. This makes them “Han” if they have that kind diagonal flap to close the shirt. Each dancer’s patterned folds are different. While the cloth and tops give me a sense of ”folk,” I am told that they do not feel that way to the dancers. They do add to the strangeness of this work.

A long ribbon of twisting bodies, a hurdle of twists, like a human “Bird Nest, ” the flinging flying stomping twists, followed by. …Those WONDERFUL FLOATING WHITE COINS made out of paper. These are the reappearance of the funeral practice like the early parade: These are the coins that are tossed somehow. Tiechun adds these small triangles of red silk that float like brilliant flames with the white coins over the dancers’ dancing.

Like the Mozart Mass in C Minor, the clothe and the changes in the shapes of gestures with sleeves and billowing pants wrench the work out of its simpler space into a public one.
There is that word again: Public. Dance making made public, an incredible way to challenge all of us.
Like Tiechun asking his dancers to let their breath and movement “coincide”.

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