(digitized sequences that exist in relationship to movement phrases and suggest sensorial aide)
(verbal language of movement material)
Please consider the following as enhancement maps, and movement phrases. The maps are digitized sequences from pencil drawings that suggest an awareness, feeling or sensation of motion, they are sensorial aides. The movement phrases are created from a written language. All of the material is collected from notebooks of previously performed works. These elements work in tandem to create the choreography of this particular work.
score for now
A different Kind of Score
This is a performative score for audiences to imagine in their head. Caught in the limitations of our inability to share space. This was the original idea of a performance that was set to take place at Aaron Davis Hall in May 2020. Through a live video feed, a performer and pre-recorded material the piece was attempting to give audiences an opportunity to physically navigate the space between video and performance. In this version, a scored version, I invite you to contemplate the way it looks, conjure your own version of the performance, and potentially bring it into memory by experiencing it.
You are ushered through the heavy, metal stage door. Your eyes have to adjust slightly to the darker space, a shadowy, dimly lit space. You notice the gentle smell of grease and Pine Sol.
You are backstage. The black curtains are flown (lifted, floating) into the tall head space. You can’t quite see the ceiling, it’s so tall, but you might notice the maze of a catwalk overhead. There is a gentle, cavernous quality that permeates the space, as if hollow. It feels cold.
Where you are standing, behind the boom, is very dark. Stepping forward the lights get brighter. You realize you are on the stage. You become part of the performance. Your breath catches. You realize you are suddenly nervous. Perhaps you recognize that feeling from previous performances, or the moment you had to make an entrance at your elementary school recital, or when your name is called at a work conference to approach the podium to give a speech.
To your right, you see the empty 750 chairs where an audience, you, might usually be. There is a subtle iridescence from the red velour that covers the seats, and glints of the gold-painted metal that lines them.
As you scan from right to left, you notice a black curtain dividing the stage into half from upstage to downstage. To your left, a projection is playing, an oversized human is dancing. You turn your body towards it and watch for a few minutes. There is an influence of ballet training on the dancing body— but also something else. Curving and swooping as if undulating, you watch the body on the projector collapse, wail, jump, and spin. The body walks out of the frame, then the same body reappears, but the movement looks different, this time quiet, gentle yet still undulating. The dancer leaves again and only a dance studio is projected; upon returning, the dancer’s movement changes again, this time sinuous and gyrating.
The stage you’re standing on has polished wood floors. The floors in the video are both wood and concrete. The space you are in is open, and the scenes in the projection have pillars but also sometimes look eerily like this theater. The body does not seem to be performing in this theater. The projected performance feels displaced.
As you watch the projection, you might notice a tech person to your right, looking at a laptop and managing a multichannel converter. The converter is a funny-looking keyboard, and the tech person occasionally presses its buttons. They are dressed in casual wear, all black, and they have a walkie talkie on their belt. They stand up to adjust something on the other side of the curtain dividing the stage.
What’s happening on the other side? You begin to wonder. You can walk downstage (the stage apron) to get to the other side.
Once there, you see a live performer moving through choreography (more on this in a minute), taking a break, drinking water. Various cameras are recording them. You notice this moving body is the same as the one shown in the projection, you recognize the wood floors, and their outfit. They are a part of the collaged video projection happening just on the other side of the space.
A second tech person hands you a booklet. You hadn’t noticed this person when you crossed to this side of the curtain. They are wearing a similar outfit to the first tech person. The booklet is comprised of English-language and graphical documentation of the dancer’s movement language. As you vacillate between watching the dancer and reading, you notice a congruity between the words, the basic symbols on the page and the dancer’s movements. You might begin to consider the visual aides, or enhancement maps, accompanying the words as sensorial suggestions. You might wonder: Are these a way to track and provoke motion?
You might find yourself flipping back through the booklet. What is the moving body doing within each of the written phrases? Which one coincides the most with what the dancer is doing at this moment? You start to notice their choices around timing, dynamics and sensorial content. You might also take note of what is pulling your attention.
As you continue to watch, you begin to wonder how dancers use sensory information to develop the performative character of their work. It is necessary to consider the sensorial experience of the performer in the work.
How the work is experienced— the conjuring of emotion, histories, flavors, personal antidotes— must be considered. The work of dance making is human, inextricably linked to our energy and materials. Performers, consciously or not, bring major sensorial information into a choreographed phrase.
What are some of the sensory experiences this dancer might be having? You begin to create a list:
an itch on their upper lip
a history of pain in their lumbar spine
sweat down their right armpit
noticing the light in their eyes
a caught hair
supination of their left ankle
the way their costume smells
eye contact with a viewer
The sensory experiences of the dancer are not unlike those you might be having:
an itch on your eyebrow
that subtle knee pain
sweat down your right armpit
breathing in and out
noticing the Pine Sol smell again
These are all the elements of the work: a divided stage, a video projection, a performing body, two technical people, the cameras, and you. Now that you have a general sense of it, you have a choice about how to spend your time. Should you stay to watch the performer? Is that person more important than the projection, or more important than the people running the tech? Should you go back to the video projection and notice a few more details? What do you want to spend more time with?
Navigation is imperative. You choose from where to watch.