MFA Thesis Dance Concert 2015
April 16, 17, 8:00 pm;
This year's MFA Thesis Concert includes the work of our 10 MFA candidates.
As an artist and scholar, I am interested in explorations of memory, communication, and personal and collective psychology through overarching investigations of reflection, consciousness, and perception. My MFA Thesis dances question the role that perception plays in constructing our sense of reality. The group piece, Points of Departure / Points of Reference, offers a quintet of dancers who journey together as individuals attempting to navigate, comprehend, share, and construct a new reality for themselves. Existing in a suspended, expansive state, they attempt to illuminate the impetus and intent of events. They are searching for answers, for schema, for conceptual footing in new territory. Yet they may be fooled by perception or interpret information differently from one another. Drawing inspiration from constellations, black holes, and molecules, the dancers engage with one another and the space in a series of pushes and pulls, gatherings and expansions, moments that dissolve. My solo, At once both prologue & epilogue, is just what the name suggests — the piece exists in connection to the group work without linear association. In this dance, I investigate the role of a personal sensorium for comprehending the world; again questioning the potential fallacy of perception, the tantalizing trickery of reflective surfaces, and the aid or obstruction of the body and other “bodies” (bodies of water; bodies of knowledge).
Threshold deals with the exploration of relationships and their effect on our lives, positively and negatively. The dancers go on a journey of starting off being individuals while going on a journey together while figuring out whom and what they want. Through this journey they start to form relationships between one another while not acknowledging each other’s presence in the beginning. As the piece moves forward they start to really notice each other and join together as one and then eventually break apart and go back into being individual people. Relationships come and go and can forever leave an impact on our lives, no matter how long they last.
Spirograph was inspired by the 1960s drawing toy of the same name, which utilizes gears and stencils to create complex geometric shapes and configurations. I am fascinated by geometric art, and I took interest in using bodies rather than gears to carve out physical spaces, creating patterns that shift and degrade over time. Bodies moving in space create visual memories that linger in the space even after the bodies have moved on. As the bodies continue to carve out the space, these visual memories accumulate, providing a complex and multilayered experience for the viewer.
I decided to create a format that would allow me to explore movement motifs and spatial patterns in a variety of ways. I split the piece into five separate movements, each of which has a very distinct movement sensibility and use of space. During this process, I began to discover how the patterns, motifs, and mood of each dance impacted the relationships of the dancers, and likewise how I could use the dancers’ choice-making to inform the work. For example, there are several moments during the piece in which I asked my dancers to make in-the-moment choices as to their timing or pathway. For this reason, the piece turns out slightly differently each time it is performed. As I discovered these opportunities, the piece gradually moved from something solely geometric and cerebral to something much more alive. In its final iteration, it sometimes seems to breathe. I watch videos from rehearsals and have the impression that it isn’t something I myself created; I might have defined the structure and the parameters, but the choices of the dancers and their relationships with one another and with the movement itself developed into the body of the piece.
The music is a collection of string quintets by Italian composer Luigi Boccherini. The music was the primary inspiration for the movement itself. I listened to the music many times, and after listening to one of the pieces, I would perform an improvisation in silence, with the experience of the music still fresh in my mind and body. This process helped me foster interesting relationships between the movement and the music without trying to echo or mimic the music perfectly. For me, the music reflected the complexity of the concepts I was working with, while also adding an unexpected layer of lightness and humanness to the geometric spatial relationships. The five pieces of music used in the dance demonstrate a wide range of musical ideas, while still bearing a common through-line. With the music, the piece becomes a sort of kaleidoscope of variations on a theme.
Jaq H. Dalziel
they (pronoun: singular) was choreographed in a laboratory setting using my devised choreographic methodology. This methodology (ab)used the gender binary in dance to dismantle the gender binary in dance. Throughout the piece, the dancers explore worlds in which they are dancing without gender, dancing femininely as a male-bodied dancer, dancing masculinely as a female-bodied dancer and struggling with being silenced and not seen both within and outside of the gender binary. This piece was choreographed, constructed and performed by a cast and crew that predominantly identifies as genderqueer.
[stuck] is a reflective work on daily life as a queer, gender non-conforming female-bodied individual. The permanency of my body and my honesty about my identities means being regarded and/or fetishised as “other”. “Other” is an exhausting and terrifying experience, while also being powerful and emancipatory. Is an exit created when internal narrative becomes external? Or does external narrative solidify being trapped?
Patched Works dives into the world of internal versus external worlds and the intimate relationship dance shares with music. Using dancers from various backgrounds and techniques, partnered social dances such as bachata, salsa, and kizomba are explored with a contemporary twist. Hip hop, house, modern and Afro-Cuban styles are fused on top of these to create a diverse melting pot of dance and culture. Musicality highlights the intricate isolations, as dancers become a physical extension of the music. The rhythmic musical selections were chosen to fully complement the varying styles of dance. The connection we allow ourselves to explore within partnerships or as soloists via the music is profoundly complex. I have decided to investigate this through the process of fusion, which has given me my first insight in uncovering what exactly is involved when fusing multiple dance styles together.
Leigh Ann Kabatra
Allusion is inspired by the structure of some of Thomas Pynchon’s novels. While reading books like The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland, I was captivated by Pynchon’s frequent use of flashbacks, elaborate conspiracy theories, and lengthy background stories for minor characters. Often these side stories are eventually integrated into the rest of plot, but many remain loose ends and are never fully explained or resolved. I wanted to create a dance with a structure that mimicked a Pynchon novel. I have choreographed many phrases that diverge significantly from preceding material. Some of these sections contain hints of previous material; others are distinct ideas that never reappear in the dance. Pynchon also sometimes writes about characters occupying different time periods or locations and maintains disparate storylines for much of the book. While the characters may be closely related, Pynchon presents their stories separately and integrates them only occasionally or during momentous events. I wanted to capture this effect in my dance. The dancers engage in the same phrase material, but they do not interact with each other and never acknowledge the other dancers’ presence. Each dancer performs a unique pattern, and the dancers create unison or converge in space only when their patterns intersect.
My piece has been an exploration in how we interpret movement from one body to the next. When you view a movement and attempt to recreate it, certain things are lost, embellished or even created as your body interprets what you are seeing. Everyone has their own unique style, in how they move and present that movement. I wanted to give my dancers relatively free reign to interpret the movement given to them, having them explore what their movement style was rather than trying to adopt mine. To work with what we had rather forcing an unnatural style or movement for the dancers. I picked dancers that I felt had very different backgrounds and dance styles in order to show how varied the same movement can be. The title of the piece was inspired by my written thesis work, which has to do with the spirals found in the human body and throughout nature. The golden ratio is talked about in all subjects as its examples range from the microscopic all the way out to the far reaches of space. Even with this unifying ratio life forms are so varied and unique. This exploration in movement has been to tap into that uniqueness and create a piece that would change drastically depending on who was performing.
Relativity is a study on the emic (inside) and etic (outside) experience of being human. Through a geometric investigation of time and space, Relativity employs recurring motifs, cause and effect, and accumulation in an attempt to speak to the complex nature of being. Working in collaboration with the dancers and visual artist Gray DePol a discussion developed concerning complex structures and systems, storytelling, history repeating itself, empathy through vulnerability and mysticism. This conversation served as a basis for generating materials and building the overall structure of the piece.
For, you—I have created a melody of movement in tribute to those whom have helped shape my dancing path.
The idea of my dance Pathway is in spirit of the concept of jellyfish. The inspiration of movements came from watching their fascinating dynamics and movement pathways. The spontaneous movement of a group of jellyfish inspired me and produced powerful feelings. I structured my piece based on their different traveling patterns, which can be seen in the movement of the dancers. Different pathways lead people to reach their own directions. Various qualities of movements are as the different experiences in the pathways.
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