Dancers Reflection

"Dawn and I cultivated a friendship during our two-year intensive MFA at Jacksonville University. It was there that I saw the birth of Dawn’s current study. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing Dawn’s research evolve and recently applied her current choreographic method to my process. We started by examining an existing painting that I painted by using my body as the vessel. The work investigates two principles, that of dance as ephermally existent and the embodied understanding of the quantum principle called Tunneling. The choreographed phrase built by attending to the sensations of the body during theoretical discourse was captured on canvas by applying paint to my hands and feet and performing the phrase repeatedly. The final product is a visual representation of the quantum principle, tunneling. 

Working under Dawn’s guidance, I reimagined my relationship with the painting. Instead of regarding the painting as something that emerged from my body, I viewed the painting as a separate entity and allowed its movement to dictate my movement responses. This was extremely challenging because I have an embodied memory of the existing choreography. Dawn guided me through improvisational exercises that used the painting as a blueprint to assist in the development of unexpected movement. Following the paint strokes on canvas, I outlined movement by creating a visual map, attending to the journey of my eyes on the painting, and embodying the journey in my pelvis, then rib cage, then legs, and finally the port de bras. 

Dawn then prompted me to identify 5 pictures in the painting and give bodily shape to their illustration. I inserted those shapes into the score-based choreographic phrase. To manipulate further, Dawn asked me to identify the intention behind the 5 pictures. For example, is the paint thick and bold? Is the paint applied stroke-by-stroke to create the picture? Is the picture splattered and are the remnants of the splatter on the canvas? The questions influenced dynamic shifts in the choreographic phrase. During this part of the process, I was challenged by Dawn. Based on my discomfort in the manipulated movement, I fell back on safe movement choices which created familiar choreographic phrasing. Dawn very gently guided me through my difficulty in the uncovered movement possibilities and together we trained my body to accept new movement responses. The process is ironic because I am a dancer trained extensively in codified techniques. In Dawn’s process, I was asked to shed familiar technical languages and instead trust the organic response of my body. Through this process, Dawn helped me to uncover an unrealized movement vocabulary, one that exclusively belongs to my body. 

This was an extremely challenging process that took me out of my comfort zone. This method is unique because there was no regard for my existing technical vocabulary. Instead, the process required honesty and trust of my own personal movement choices based on the visual stimulation of the painting. As a professional dancer, I so often feel the need to abandon individuality and adopt the aesthetic of my director or choreographer. Dawn’s method reminded me of the vast wealth of movement possibilities that I so often overlook. She helped me to investigate the phenomenological impulses of my body and exhaust the investigation to the depth of the movement. I see so much value in this method because through it I developed a choreographic phrase that is deviant from much of my choreographic accomplishments. Dawn’s method is a reminder to me to look within to access the creative well that is uniquely my own." (Montijo 3/2022)