Project #6

The works in this project were created by four participants in a fine arts program at a community college.  The dancers came from varying backgrounds with multiple levels of dance experience.  One of the students graduated from the program, completed a bachelor's degree, and returned to continue taking dance classes at the college.  Two students are majoring in dance within the program, and another student is taking her first dance classes in her life this year.  One of the dancers took a master class with me, where I brought paintings in and explained my practice.  The other three students heard from the head of the department what the project would entail, but I am not sure if anyone can truly understand what to expect until they are in the process of making.


Ribbon Pour Method

After demonstrating the ribbon pour method, the participants were anxious to get started on their paintings.  First, they chose what colors and canvas size they wanted to paint.  Everyone decided on a small and larger canvas as if one was a practice canvas. 


Acrylic Paint & Silicone Oil

I let the dancers mix and pour the paints into the cups independently.  They did what you would call a “dirty pour,” where you would drop the paint into the cup and not be conscious of layering the paint colors.  As they poured the paint on the canvas, it was streamed from side to side, then they picked up the canvas to stretch the paint and allow it to flow over the canvas. 

Improvisation Translation

After creating the paintings, I told the dancers to reflect on pouring the paint onto the canvas and translate this experience into their bodies, first starting with their heads.  Then I asked them to focus the movement on their knees.  I wanted to have them focus on a body part that was less likely to lead a movement, a part of the body they really needed to bring their awareness to.  I noticed some of the dancers moving both their heads and knees as if they were adding the knees as an extension to the movement with their heads.  I asked for a volunteer to suggest the next body part, and one dancer recommended the hips.  After capturing this improvisation on film, I had the dancers look at their paintings and find a spot within the painting that stood out to them.  Finally, I asked how they could translate this shape into a  jump.  After they were given the four tasks, they needed to review their videos and set a phrase for each task. 

April 2022

Once each dancer set their phrase for each task, we collaboratively composed a piece.  Throughout the process, we spoke a lot about the paint, behaved on the canvas, and how it was manipulated.  At the beginning of the piece, the dancers embodied the movement of the paint flowing from side to side as if the dance floor was the canvas the bodies shifted in space.  The memory of improvisation and resetting the phrases were an issue with some of the dancers as they struggled to recall what they did during the task to set the work.  One of the dancers had never taken a formal dance class before.  I was pleased that this project has the capacity of including all bodies regardless of their previous dance training.  It is the individual who has not been exposed to codified technique who will actually produce the most organic movement.

Shapes, Gestures…I like to call the bodies taking form as an Architectural Structure in space.  The task was to choose five images within the painting that you are drawn to.  Using your body as a site, transfer that image onto your body, and embody the image as your body becomes an architectural site to represent your translation of the illustration.  After creating the gestures or poses, we rolled the dice five times and put the number on a chart.  This number represented the number of times the dancers would repeat their bodily structure in space.  Next, the dancers looked at their paintings and connected the if connecting the dots.  How would you map that pattern in space as if you look at the canvas and the dance floor becomes your canvas?  You are to travel through the space mapping the pattern, when you arrive at each site, you will repeat your bodily structure as many times as your dice landed on.  

The work above I decided to title Adaptation, was developed in conjunction with a method of translation I like to call “image interpretation.”  The dancers were all over the place; it was organized chaos.  After the first rehearsal, I left questioning my decision on this method of composition. The dancers began to feel more comfortable in their skin and newfound movement in the next rehearsal. There was a shift, and the form started to feel like a dance.  It was beautiful and messy and scary.  I was so used to taking the dancers out of their comfort zones, now I was taking myself out as well.  We worked on this piece for weeks and weeks, reviewing the composition.  At first, the dancers were actually running around the dance floor with their canvas to remember where to travel in space.  They gave their gestures names so they could remember them such as Lady Francesca, Stub My Toe, Starfish, Snake, Cells, and Bird, to name a few.  The dancers needed to create forms of representation to make the work comprehensible.  They were creating a language using known symbols to represent and translate their images connected to the body.  They were developing context to the content of their work through the creative process which requires critical reasoning and knowledge acquisition.  When I asked the dancers how it felt to be choreographing and composing in unfamiliar ways the response was it is refreshing to do something new and a lot less stressful not to have to be on the same timing as everyone else.  




From practice to process to product, we brought these pieces from the studio to the stage.  As a class we collaboratively discussed elements of lighting and how we would transition the first piece to the second.  The first dance the students decided to title Chance, as it was created incorporating methods of chance into the developing choreography.  Both of the videos are from a dress rehearsal (the first one you can hear my corrections).  The second piece we titled Adaptation, as the dancers and I both needed to adapt to new forms of choreography as a product to be performed on stage.  In reflection, the work was about process, about learning, about teaching, about guiding the dancers to think with their body and explore new modes of movement and composition.  The product, the performance was a place to display that learning.  It was not a place to assess the works as final pieces, but observe the growth of the dancers movement vocabulary.     

Staining the Score

As a culminating project, the dancers and I collaborated on an improvisational project.

End of Project #6...see PerformancesMay 2022