Sunday, December 20, 2015

Choreography: The connection and advantages

The connection

A dancer can get clear advantages from the work on choreography according to the Joy in Motion blogger. (JinM) Your ability to create a strong, living connection between the steps, the movements, the choreography and your body, your personality can grow dramatically when you are working with choreographies. You can experience this connection as the difference between the mechanically taken steps and the same steps deeply touching your heart.

Joy in Motion  puts it in this way:
“The physical aspect of the dance is not about putting something in the body; it is about encouraging something to arise from the body.”

This happens on several levels. It is a very physical, very technical thing, but it is also mental, emotional, relational, and musical.

After I had this realization, I began to search for the feeling, the intention, the essence of each choreographed phrase in a very personal way.

According to JinM the results were visible immediately and her dancing was also complimented by the teachers. This convinced her that this awareness is important and one of the main messages in the posting is that a choreography work is a good training method to grow your skill in good connection. She did it and you can do it too!

With other words there can be a huge difference between the steps taken and the very same steps which have come alive. That's the reason why a good choreographer is so passionate about the connection - it is all, the most important goal to work for. Only after the steps have come alive he starts to pay attention to how to polish the movements and to create the ultimate precision.

I have always thought that there is a fundamental difference in the mental state of a choreography dancer compared to an improvisation dancer. I have some vague memories about a difference between musicians who were used to play from sheet music and who were able to carry on a jam session. The first one needed a stable structure but was unable to let an intuitive improvisation process to take over. The participating brain areas for these two mental states varied; some areas were activated for one state but were shut down for the other and the ability to switch between these two requires some learning and training.

This may still be true but from the Joy in Movement viewpoint the two types of dancing are similar by sharing the search for form/dancer connection. If the improvised steps  lack this connection they are as mechanical and dead as the choreographed dance with the same failure. In my mind this idea boiled down to this: the degree of connection is the degree of life in the dance!

Quite often an unsatisfied audience is calling an improvised dance for too choreographed when something is missing, when the dance feels too mechanical. After reading JinM's posting I agree that it is more accurate to call this for a connection error, too vague connection or something similar.

Dancers vs. Actors

I haven't ever worked with a choreographer so I am only vaguely able to understand the aspects JinM blogger is writing about. To get deeper I relied on my usual strategy and tried to find a more familiar situation with same structure making it more easy to broaden my views. After a while I landed on the process actors are going through when they are preparing for their next role.

Most of us have seen interviews were an actor is telling about the research work: all the reading, visiting locations, working in certain milieus, learning gestures, way of talk and so on. It is not only information collection but it is also about building up different skills needed so they can create a true character. As audience we just see the tip of the preparation ice berg but the huge hidden part of it makes the character and role true - we do not see it but we do feel it.

With other words the actors get the script, their lines and all their skill is needed to blow life to those lines in the way the director points out. In dance we have the choreography, the steps and the dancer's skill will get those steps to come alive while the choreographer is showing the direction! 

Quite the same isn't it? 

I can understand the reasons why the huge amount of work is motivated when the actors want to embody a role and now it is also easier to understand that the corresponding areas need to be addressed even in dance: among them the physical, technical, mental, emotional, relational and rhythm/timing areas.

Here some short interviews with several well known actors how they work for the connection between the script and their role:

If a good actor is able to create it so why a good dancer couldn't create a similar experience?

You can read the blogger's entire posting at Joy in Motion page!  Click here!

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