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Analyzing Styles -- question from a student


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#1 Guest_HazelBee_*

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 08:18 AM

hello everyone i'm kinda new to this whole internet thing and i'm just using it for reasearch during my 'A' levels. I've joined this forum to ask for help, one of my main contextual studies is a paper on interpriting and linking the styles of different dance companies and i have choosen to study Matthew Bournes Swan Lake and Shobana Jehasignhs "surface Tension" and phantasmaton" which i recently saw performed. Last year i studied C.Bruces Ghost dances which i really enjoyed and perfornmed a section for my exam, however the styles i am studying this year are so diverse that i don't know where to begin!!!!! If anyone would like to email me and make any comments or suggestions that they think could help, please do so, my email is in my profile. Please please write back even if its just to say hi!
HAZELBEE

#2 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 08:36 AM

Hello HazelBee! You will receive a warm welcome from our "official" and most wonderful Welcome Lady, Giannina, later, but I just wanted to tell you that if you would like help from this board your question will need to be posted in an appropriate forum and the responses will come there. Your email address is not visible in your profile to anyone but the Administrator. The purpose of this board is to discuss topics about ballet, and certainly to answer any pertinent questions. There are forums for technique questions (Teens and Special Groups), History, Choreographers, etc. No one will do your homework for you, but some people might be able to help you find what you are looking for. There have been discussions on the board about the Bourne Swan Lake, but I don't believe I have ever heard of the other choreographer or those ballets. Perhpas someone else will know more. I'm not sure where to move this, probably Choreographers forum, but will leave it for now as I must rush off to work.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 08:50 AM

Hi, Hazel -- Welcome!

You've posed an interesting question. I can't be of much help, because I've not seen Shobana Jehasignhs "surface Tension" and phantasmaton" But general rules about analyzing a choreographer's style would apply to anyone. How do the dancers' move? Where is the movement centered (torso, limbs)? What are favorite or repeated steps and motions? How are the works structured? Do they use the score as a road map, or use music as a general atmospheric guide (or perhaps not at all)?

Once you analyze one particular piece -- really look at it and see how it's constructed (try to dance a few of the movements yourself so you can tell how they feel; that might give you some clues, too!) then you can look at another piece and compare it. Sounds easy!

The most important thing is to try to train yourself to look beneath the surface, at the bones of a piece, and try to figure out what the choreographer's intention was, and how he went about fulfilling it.

Not very specific, but I hope this helps a bit :) I've asked one of our Board Hosts who's a choreographer to look in on this if he has the time -- he'll probably be able to give you something more specific.

I am going to move a copy of this to the choreographer's forum -- good idea, Victoria -- because the question is a good, general one and might spark discussion. This board exists to discuss classical ballet, and the works you're interested in are modern dance or contemporary ballet, but how to look at a work is the same no matter what the genre :)

Good luck!

#4 Guest_HazelBee_*

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:13 AM

Thankyou so much for your replys Victoria and Alexandra. Shobana Jehasingh is an Asian dance speicialist who has intergrated classical idian dances such as Barata Natyam with a more contempory feel to create a new unique dance style. i am aware this site is mainly a ballet forum but i find it interesting to be able to discuss Bournes contempary work compared to a completly contrasting style. Alexandra-what you have said is fantastically helpful, and i will use it in group discussion during my class tomorrow. Thankyou both so much for your help, this is such a good forum with such helpful members THANKYOU!

HAZELBEE

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:22 AM

Thanks, HazelBee. Glad we could be of some help. I'll be interested to read what your discussion group says.

In Washington there is an excellent dancer/choreographer called Shizumi who integrates American modern dance with traditional Japanese dance. I've always admired her work -- I don't know enough about traditional Japanese dance to appreciate and understand everything she puts into it. Color and costuming are VERY important to her, and while I realize she is using color symbolism, the colors and what they symbolize are from another culture and I can only guess at them!

She is an extraordinary performer and uses Japanese folk themes, but made more "dancey" through modern dance technique. In one piece, for example, through the use of masks, but also body language and gesture, she was a demon who took the guises of an old man, a young woman, a child and, of course, his demonic self :)

Are you allowed to interview the choreographer? Or must it be a guessing game? :) It might be fascinating to interview Shobana Jehasingh about Indian classical dance, and how she blends the two forms, especially since Indian classical dance is very much about gesture. Hand and finger movements, even eye movements, have a very specific significance. Hard to use those elements for an audience who can't "read them."

As for Bourne, you should be able to find a lot of reviews and articles about that Swan Lake as well as interviews where Bourne speaks about how he choreographs.

Keep us posted :)

#6 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:27 AM

Hazel -

I'm afraid I don't know any of the dances well enough to comment on them specifically (Jehasingh's work is unknown to me) but one way to compare and contrast two seemingly unrelated styles would be to compare how they use space. Go through the dances in your mind, and try and map them out. Do they move back and forth across the stage? Do they fan out? Do they travel in circles? How much do they use the air, the ground?

This won't be fruitful for every style of dance but it might give you someplace to begin.

Good luck!

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:30 AM

Adding a brief note -- Hazel, we always advise students not to depend on the internet primarily when doing research, as there is so much that's NOT available on line, and it's sometimes difficult to judge the accuracy of what is on line.

The Net is great, though, as an in-home library catalogue, where you can do a search for printed material, and here's a link you might find helpful. It's to the catalogue at the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library. You should find a list of articles about nearly any dance subject you need.

http://catnyp.nypl.o...~b1o1c1i1p1r1a1

#8 Guest_HazelBee_*

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Posted 16 May 2002 - 08:47 AM

I recently had a day spent with A member of Shobana Jehasinghs company, she came in to the collage and spent a day going through how jehasingh uses dance movements completly unique to her style, and gave us alot of useful input. In a few weeks time a member of Bournes company, the man who performed as the prince in Swan Lake is coming in and i am really looking foward to it, i think matthew bournes work is really interesting and i enjoy studying Swan Lake. Alexandra-i took your response in to my course tutor today, i'm a performing arts student and i major in Dance and Drama however my collage does not have a dance teacher as such, my teacher (who specialises in drama) thanks you for your help, :D and she has taken the advice you have given us and applyed it to our studies and we discussed how the two choreographers differed in their approach to using the space and the dancers bodies. It was really helpful!!Thankyou all so much!
HAZELBEE


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