Dance and the Written Word

Dance-Written-Word

Dance is a nonverbal art. Yet, as practitioners of an evanescent art, writing is often quite important to dancers. Nijinsky kept a diary. Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Agnes DeMille, and Paul Taylor produced autobiographies. Isadora Duncan wrote essays on the dance, as did Merce Cunningham and Murray Louis. Doris Humphrey and Twyla Tharp have addressed creative issues in dance. Katherine Dunham, whose career spans anthropology and performance, has written profusely.

 

The list goes on and on. Dance may be a nonverbal art, but dancers are hardly silent on this subject.Read More

Flow Changes Everything

Group of contemporary dancers performing on stage

When flow takes the place of another motion factor, Laban wrote, “the expression is more intense” and the whole configuration “gains new meaning.” In the Mastery of Movement correspondence course, we tested Laban’s assertion.

Readers were asked to choose one of the transformation drives – either Passion or Vision or Spell. They were to work out the eight effort quality combinations of that drive and then embody each mood.

The Vision Drive combines the motion factors of Space, Time, and Flow (the motion factor of Weight is latent).… Read More

April Dances Bring Advances 1

movement and health

In late April we celebrate National Dance Week. This year’s festivities come with scientific evidence that dancing is good for you!  A research team based at Colorado State University found that contra dancing may help to fend off aging in the brain.

A four-year clinical trial followed a group of 174 healthy adults aged 60 – 79.  The group was divided into four parts.  One group did aerobic walking, another not only walked but also took a nutritional supplement, the third group participated in stretching and balance classes, and the fourth group attended contra dance classes involving a sequence of figures as dancers progress up and down a line.  Read More

Dancing with Your Eyebrows

dancing with your eyebrows

“You must not think of dance as steps,” Rudolf Laban once told a group of student actors.  “Dance is meaningful movement.  You can dance with your eyebrows. When I have taught you, you will be able to dance with any part of your body.’’

The acting students were skeptical, or course.  They thought that dance was frivolous, not serious.  Laban, however, had spent a lifetime investigating not only the physical aspects of dance, but also its mental, emotional, and social dimensions.  Read More

A Life for Dance

human movement dance

Laban’s autobiography, A Life for Dance, is a curious book, but one that reveals a great deal about his creative vision and theatrical activities.  As he notes in the letter to his publisher that opens the book:

“I recount in my book how a human being makes his way through thousands of circumstances and events.  Since this person happens to be a dance master or even a dance-poet, the book will frequently speak about the precious little-known art of dance. … Read More

Observing Movement, Observing Life

human movement dance

In Mastery of Movement, Laban asks readers to observe a person in everyday life, a person portraying a character in a mime scene, and a dancer performing a national or period dance.  Observers are to analyze the use of the body, along with the use of space, time, and weight.

This is a useful exercise for any actor; it is also a task that Laban set for himself.  In his autobiography, Laban describes his first experiences as a young and very idealistic artist-to-be. … Read More

MPA and Collaborative Choreography: Creating The Black Sea

choreography

By Laurie Cameron, Registered Movement Pattern Analyst

My choreographic process has always involved collaborative research – studio time in which “problems” that I have invented (usually based on a theme) are solved in various ways by the artists who will eventually perform whatever eventually materializes.  As the director of the process, my job is to organize and orchestrate largely improvised material into some kind of coherent, presentable form.

With strong motivations in both Timing and Anticipating, it has always been important to me to move the process toward a “finished product” in a timely fashion, assuming that all involved trusted me to make sound artistic decisions and hoping to avoid hours of grueling studio work that might not necessarily produce more interesting results.… Read More

Movement Health – Laban-style

dance, movement, theory, laban

As the benefits of physical motion are gaining recognition and undergoing further scrutiny, it is interesting to see how Laban characterized movement health.  He wrote, “A healthy human being can have complete control of his kinesphere and dynamosphere….  The essential thing is that we should neither have preference for nor avoid certain movements because of physical or psychical restrictions.”

Clearly, Laban views movement as healthy for both the body and mind.  He prescribes a rich range of motion, noting “we should be able to do every imaginable movement and then select those which seem to be the most suitable and desirable for our own nature.”

When I did my Laban Movement Analysis training in the mid-1970s, the faculty used to give individual “movement prescriptions” in the middle of the year. … Read More

Movement Patterns, Expression, and Meaning

movement theory

Movement occurs in patterns, and these patterns are both expressive and meaningful.  In 2017, MoveScape Center’s Red Thread offerings focus on the patterned aspects of movement behavior – in everyday activity, in effort, and in space.

Everyday patterns.  The Red Thread journey begins with the Tetra seminar, “Introduction to Movement Pattern Analysis.”  Based on the work of Warren Lamb, this three-day course, scheduled for mid-March in the Denver area, demonstrates how movement patterns reveal individual decision-making processes.   Participants learn how to observe and interpret movement patterns. … Read More

“Summer of Dance” Revisited

summer of dance

In my September blogs, I praised the Denver Art Museum’s “Summer of Dance” – four separate exhibitions all focused on American dance.   However, I noted that the Denver Post’s art critic disagreed, claiming that dance was a far too trivial topic for a “serious museum” to tackle.

I suggested that the critic’s dismissive comments sprang from the fact that the real value of dance is best understood by dancing.  And dance is not really embedded in the lives of everyday Americans.… Read More