Analyzing Styles -- question from a student
Posted 15 May 2002 - 08:18 AM
Posted 15 May 2002 - 08:36 AM
Posted 15 May 2002 - 08:50 AM
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
Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:13 AM
Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:22 AM
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
Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:27 AM
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.
Posted 15 May 2002 - 11:30 AM
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.
Posted 16 May 2002 - 08:47 AM
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