Thinking About Space

Posted on 09/11/13

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

As a dancer and choreographer, I have always enjoyed the use of space.  At various times in my youth, I might have said that purposefully navigating space and crafting with it is what separates dance as an art form from other physical endeavors.  My opinions have opened up as I age and become more humble, yet I still find so much satisfaction in the design elements that are revealed through manipulating the spatial element.  Even as dance enjoys popularity on television and the internet, I find myself left wanting.  What is happening to the art form of choreography when the camera operators and editors are making the artistic decisions?  Of course technology opens up vast possibilities for the art of dance and even composition, yet at the same time, how is it shifting perception and controlling our view?  Like anyone, I can find immense pleasure in photographs of bodies in motion—whether of a basketball player in full reach lay-up, a roofer scampering up a ladder while her co-worker is splayed on the nearby pitch of a roof, or a roller derby team gaining momentum around the bend.  The body of a dancer in action or stillness is no less captivating.  At the same time, what excites me about the art and craft of choreography is how the artist directs my eye around the stage and I see the mover in relation to other things—open space, props, sets, people or audience.  Relationships create visual design and that makes me feel things—sometimes satisfaction from a sense of harmony or tension as I worry about a dancer falling off the stage or vulnerability, intimacy, mystery or a number of subtle possibilities.  As the field of dance making shifts and changes, I hope that crafting space will continue to be an important part of what is taught, learned and experienced.  I fear that with increased focus on the tricks a body can perform, we are in a period of forgetting to think about or taking for granted this instrumental aspect of the art of dance. (preedy)

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