Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The power (and pitfalls) of watching/mirrors...

Hey guys,
Rose Anne passed this on to me, but i thought you might find it interesting.


It's a motion-capture based form of choreography technology (similar to the "Life Forms" program that Merce uses) but really designed from a ballet standpoint.

If you go to the website, you can download a 20-day free trial of it, which is pretty cool. As i was playing around with it, it struck me as a really interesting extension of part of the reading for this week.

Randy Martin spoke to the dancers relationship with the mirror a great deal, noting that "the culture of the mirror" (162) dictates a progressive evolution through the class, where the dancers at first is very dependent on the mirror and wedded to the process of self-correcting via mimesis. However, as Martin notes, through the class the dancer must separate themselves more and more from the mirror if they truly want to move, or as he says, "when [movement is] generalized from the mirror to appear anywhere, what allows dancers to 'attack' the movement, in the sense of moving as if they already had the authority or approval of correctness that they sought." (162)

This idea of having to progress from the visual to the visceral to find the authority over the movement struck me again when playing with my demo of the dance forms program. To me (and this is of course me as a dancer who is more used to classes without mirrors than with, and doesn't use the mirror at all to choreograph) it felt that the attempt to set movement visually on a form (form especially - because the program doesn't ascribe to the reality of what bodies can and can't do, it lacks humanness) was somehow missing the point. For a ballet, fine. To play around with, fine. But for making modern choreography? My modern choreography?
The word that I kept coming up with was lie. While i can see the value of a program like this, especially for aging choreographers such as Merce, it just felt so wrong for my body and my mind.

Again, that returned me to Randy Martin's analysis of the mirror-based class structure, and left me wanting his analysis on non-mirror classes. Personally, I feel that class devoid of mirrors allows the mind to accept that all of the class is "the dancing part" and continually reminds me to disassemble the hierarchies of what is "dance" and what is "technique", but I would love to get an outside view on it.

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