My Creation

For my Senior composition project, I created a piece based off of those wonderful but horrible, pesky but invigorating, butterflies that you feel whenever you are around someone that you like or are attracted to. My piece evolved and made a journey from this original concept to the final product, incorporating the idea of staying true to yourself while also encompassing the different worlds of dream and reality along the way.

It took a good amount of time for this work to morph into the final product, and up until the day of the performance there were still changes that I was debating whether or not I should make. However, it is a work that I am proud of- which is unusual for me. I normally am extremely critical of my own choreography and do not always feel positively about the end result, but in this case I did. It also didn’t hurt that I had the best cast of dancers to work with. So, here it is below. I hope you enjoy!

 

~Victoria

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Dancing with Emotion

Some of the best dance pieces that resonate with audiences, hold an emotional issue at their core. Dancing that has emotion behind it is honest, direct, and endearing. Often, these pieces are inspired by a true story, and allow for a certain story or journey to be recounted without words, in pure movement and expression. Because of this element of honesty and heart-pulling emotional content, an impression is often left for a lengthy period of time. One piece that randomly pops into my head at points over the years since I first saw it, is “Calling You” choreographed by Mia Michaels and danced by Travis Wall and Heidi Groskreutz. The simplicity of the movement, yet intricate work involving the bench made it very memorable and powerful.  So here is a little Flashback Friday to the year 2006. Check out the piece below:

Such a beautiful yet sad expression of a relationship. The beautiful thing about emotional dance pieces is that every individual who watches the piece will take something different away from it, in how they are able to relate it to their own personal life experiences and feelings. Some audience members get confused by dance pieces if they feel they do not understand what the choreographer is trying to portray, but on the contrary, dance pieces actually leave an open realm for your imagination to wander and observe the work in your own way. So don’t let any dance choreography baffle you. If you think a piece is about astronauts exploring the deep sea, but it was actually inspired by giraffes, don’t feel bad. If that is your interpretation of the work, then it is not wrong! Enjoy the beauty of artistic freedom.

~Victoria

The Struggle of Originality

Choreography can be a super fun endeavor or quite a struggle depending on the situation. It can be a mind game of sorts as it takes a lot of creativity, thinking, and altering to transform movement into a dance. There are many elements that go into the making of a dance piece. First, there is the concept or theme, then the movement, plus the music to go along with it, and costumes and lighting… the list goes on and on. But when you arrive at an end result, it can be amazing and powerful to create and say something without the use of words.

In this current world where social media runs the show, and videos are heavily accessible, it can be hard to produce truly original or unique content. The most unique part about choreography is how you put it together and organize the movement in space and time and perhaps with other dancers. To be honest here, most dance steps, gestures,or patterns have been done before and just like a plot or story for a movie, they become unique when you change it around and generate an idea through the voice of your own mind.

Take Disney movies as an example. Over the years, Disney has reused animation of their dance choreography, and were therefore copying their own movement material. Check out what I am talking about below:

Ahhhh, Disney movies. 🙂 Anyways… so even though they copied the exact same movement animation, the different characters and stories portrayed allowed the movement to become unique and special to each certain movie. In this particular situation, we do not have a case of copyright infringement as Disney is just recycling their own material. However, copyright infringement is a serious thing if you regurgitate someone else’s choreography and present it as your own. A more well-known instance of this occurred between Beyoncé and Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Check it out below:

As you can see in this comparison, Beyonce’s music video for ‘Countdown’ very closely copied the choreography, costuming, and style seen in Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s works ‘Rosas danst Rosas’ and ‘Achterland‘. Although Beyoncé should have been charged with copyright infringement, as she did not even credit Keersmaeker in the video, this event was basically pushed under the rug due to the popularity of Beyoncé.

Therefore, when choreographing, it is best to never copy movement directly, or you may find yourself in a sticky situation. You can use the work of others as a source of inspiration, or an aid, but never as a carbon copy. Just like plagiarism in writing, make the choice to use your own voice through dance, not someone else’s.

~Victoria

Inspiration is Everywhere

In the dance world, where we are constantly moving, thinking, and creating, we can find inspiration in many different places. Actually, inspiration can be found everywhere- you just have to be open to the world and everything around you, in order to see it.  When creating movement or a dance piece, it is easy to look in obvious places for a basis of movement, such as: your own life experiences, a favorite object, emotion, or story, or even a significant event that has happened in your life. However, branching out into different and more uncharted territories can make for quite a wonderful discovery. Subjects such as: a certain sound, nature, or another means of art-such as a painting, can help you think about movement creation in a new light, and allow for a deeper search and new meaning.

Take this painting “Colleen” by Iris Scott for example:

Colleen

One could analyze this piece of art in the usual, factual sense of a painting analysis. Obviously we see a girl, she is outdoors, surrounded by different elements of nature. The falling leaves inform us that it is fall, and the umbrella and rain boots give off the sense that it is raining.  However, if we take a more in-depth look, with an eye for dance creation involved, we can look a bit deeper. The varying layers of colors and shading used in this painting allow us to use our imaginative side and envision the many different emotions or aspects that these shadings represent. For example, we could look at the progression of colors as a basis for a story line or pathway of movement structure. Each color could represent a different emotion or quality, or a certain movement gesture. The floating quality given to the leaves could also be an element which translates into a form of movement. And in addition, the rainy setting can set forth a certain vibe. Anything you observe can be related in a new sense and rediscovered as movement as long as you can visualize it in your mind, or physicalize it in your body.

The art form of dance is quite a unique medium and important means of expression. The ability to communicate anything through movement is certainly a gift that should not be stunted. It is a beautiful thing when you can see an idea, thought, emotion, or object portrayed in a new and fresh light right before your eyes. Plus, the unique thing about dance is that, unlike this painting which will be here forever, it is fleeting and can only be viewed and embraced in a single moment.

~Victoria

Gratitude

I believe that gratitude is a wonderful thing to feel and to also receive.  It means that there is a give and take involved with another human being. That you are receiving something, but also giving something that allows you to feel grateful in return (or vice versa). This weekend was my Senior Project Dance Concert which involved many different elements working up to it that caused me to feel quite insane a number of times, but the actual concert was such a wonderful experience. The concert included a piece that I choreographed, plus a solo that I danced myself- plus the choreography and solos of four other seniors that I shared the concert with. Having the opportunity to share and present my work and dancing in this manner was such a privilege, and I finished this weekend feeling utterly grateful for the many people in my life, and the gift of dancing that I am able to share with others.

Feeling gratitude in my dancing is not something I have felt quite often. However, as I was dancing my solo for the last time on Saturday evening, that was exactly what I was overcome with. Receiving support from many family members, friends, and classmates was an overwhelming and humbling thing, and my heart was filled with joy to know that my dancing was greeted with support and warmth, allowing me to truly dance from the heart.

So perhaps take a moment to wrap yourself in the feeling of gratitude, and share a little of that feeling with those around you whether through words, actions, or the expressive nature of dancing.

~Victoria

A Physicalized Statement

One of the best ways that dance adds to the world, is by making a statement through movement and physical expression. Word are everywhere, constantly bombarding us on the daily with statements, expectations of right and wrong, and generalized opinions that we are often expected to conform to. Therefore it is often refreshing when an idea or opinion in support of something is expressed through the means of dancing. Not only does dance allow for a new way of expressing something, but it also becomes a more honest assertion as it involves the vulnerability of your whole body, and not just words.

In honor of the Superbowl this past Sunday, dance was used in a major way during the halftime performance by Beyoncé and her backup dancers.  Although the statements that Beyoncé made through this particular performance were quite controversial by different viewers across the country, nobody can deny that a statement was indeed made, and accentuated because of the direction and style of the involved movement within it. The use of formations to create an image, and dressing all of her backup dancers in the same exact costume adds to artistic expression. If you haven’t seen the halftime performance yet, check it out below.

(Start at 7:05 for Beyoncé)