The Impetus

The Impetus

The Impetus was created with an ensemble of eight college dancers.  When I started working with the dancers, I was under the impression they all knew and had worked with each other before. However, I came to find out towards the end of rehearsals that for most of them, pouring paint on the canvas was the first collaborative act they experienced together.  This created a sense of trust amongst the participants throughout the process.  

I witnessed this work as a pedagogical tool for the students to enhance their ability to define their perceptions in forming relationships with their bodies.  Developing single movement between moments and complex relations of elements occurred as time and variations among phrases and sections in the dance contributed to interpretive reflections of reading their paintings which illustrated choreographic design.  The music and timing became something layered over the top of the dance, not an element that reflected or affected the movement but enhanced the development of the video.  Creating the dance film before the performance added a layer to see exactly what I did and did not want to exist between dancers in space and dancers and the audience on the stage.

In the final performance, I showed the film on an overhead projector as the dancers performed.  As the director of the piece and individual with the creative concept, I know what I was personally watching during the show, the dance.  I had already filmed, edited, and watched the film repeatedly.  I wanted to hear an outsider’s opinion, so I conversed with an audience member.  I choose a visual artist and the chair of the college’s Visual and Performing Art Department.  

The interviewee, named Annie, explained to me how the dance professor at the college had brought her students to view paintings in a gallery in the past and had her dancers respond to them physically.  She pointed out that the difference with my work was that the dancers had become the artists of the work that they fleshed out through their movement.  She recognized the movement quality in the dance being inspired by the paintings as there was a lot of action in the pictures to create the dance.  Annie pointed out that the integration of the movement in the making of the painting affects the actual image and how it reacts on the surface of the canvas.  She felt as if she was watching a live performance that had already been taped, and one influenced the other as if it had become a backdrop to a backdrop she describes as a story within a story within a story. She explains that it was highly effective for the audience.    

What stood out to me most during our conversation was Annie pointing out that one does not have to be classically trained to Make, Create or Respond.  She said the method of this art-making is very freeing, you will never have one picture that looks exactly the same, and the dance depends on your body’s movement…there is a nice synergy between visual artmaking.  The fact is that you don’t need to be a classically trained visual artist just as if you don’t need to be a technically trained dancer to work with these methods.  This work does not have to have expectations. It can be open to everyone.  I like the idea that anyone, everyone can explore these methods of making. 

January 2022