Dancing will always will be my first love. I have yet to understand what exactly it is I love so much about the art form, so for my capstone I made it a part of my quest to find out.
During the second semester of my sophomore year Mr. Block introduced his English class to the world of site specific dance and a prominent site specific dancer/choreographer Leah Stein. At first I was a bit skeptical because I’ve only known dance as the art form that is performed on a stage, in a sequestered space, to a paying audience. Site specific dance was performance dance’s fraternal twin: However, site specific dance is done in unconventional dance spaces and has an audience that can range from a stock broker to a homeless individual who happens to be sitting near the site. After the brief introduction we were able to delve in to the style ourselves and explore the genre more. I quickly fell in love and wanted to learn more.
When September rolled around I had no idea what I wanted to as a capstone. I wanted to do two things : dance and perform. After brain storming with Mr. Block he re-introduced me to Leah Stein. Within months she became my mentor. Throughout this year, while I was creating my capstone, she was preparing her company for an extravagant performance they are having at the Water Works in June. So through out the year I was able to sit in on her practices, take notes, ask questions, and sometimes learn a little choreography. After I garnered enough data I’d take the things I learned back to my dancers.
In the beginning I spent most of my time trying to figure out what I wanted to do, what story did I want to tell. I decided that I wanted to talk about the affects of budget cuts and how active students have been in fighting for our schools. It was sort of an artistic protest. Which is why I entitled it Student Faces in Public Places. Once I had that sorted out I began holding rehearsals every Wednesday for 3 hours. Rehearsals consisted of a lot of adding, cutting, and adjusting since everyones skill-sets were different. I didn’t want to choreograph complicated movements, instead I wanted to add another layer, poetry. This way the audience had a visual and audio.
At some point in my life I fell in love with this art form with out knowing. In the end I’ve found that I love dance because it’s cathartic and thrilling. It not only delights the dancer but onlookers too, which is another reason why art is is so amazing. It leaves everyone feeling bit better than when they arrived.
Here is a link to process video for my capstone and a few photos from the performance.
Name: Bryanna Jones
Mentors: Leah Stein & Joshua Block
Goldsworthy, Andy. Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1990. Print.
What’s interesting about Andy Goldsworthy’s book is that he is a site specific artist. He creates art from material in the environment because he is interested in “movement, change, light, growth and decay.” Although he is referring to art these can also refer to dance. He believes that his work is inseparable from the earth, which is similar to site specific dance. He also reads his spaces like choreographers, to see if they are conducive to creating art and allowing the art to thrive. Like site art the choreography in site dancing wants to rely a message to the audience that is specific to the space.
Kloetzel, Melanie, and Carolyn Pavlik, eds. Site Dance. Gainesville: U of Florida, n.d. Print.
When Mr. Block first recommended this book he did it with the intention of having me read Leah Steins chapter. Little did I know this book would be a gem. In the introduction the author describes site choreography as a “performative translation of a place that heightens our awareness of our surrounding.” Artist go into communities/spaces such as schools, offices, apartments, neighborhoods, and parks and “read” the environment. The artist analyze the space “physically, sensually, intellectually, and emotionally.” With this research and analysis the author is able to choreograph work that is pertinent to the contextual environment. Site artist take the most obvious spaces and force us to take a close look at them. Site choreographers purpose is to forge a relationship between “people and place.”
Kwon, Miwon. One Place after Another: Site-specific Art and Locational Identity. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2002. Print.
Dance is an art form. Site specific art refers to art that is obstinate in presence, but ephemeral in tangibility. Unlike auditorium performances site specific art uses location as a part of the performance, not just a venue. On site locations give the performance more depth: texture, real life sounds, color, scale and nature. “Site specific art whether it’s interruptive or assimilative, gave itself up to it environmental context, being formally determined or directed by it.” Sites specific art is created from its contextual environment. Therefore the art must be destroyed by the contextual environment. The most beautiful part about site specific art is no one will ever run out of exhibit spaces.
"SLA/Leah Stein Dance Company Collaboration 2012." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuW_V3NvxmE>.
Since I’ve worked with the Leah Stein Dance Company in the past and will be working alongside her team for my capstone; I thought I’d use a source where she explained her passion for site specific dance and her purpose for doing a SLA dance residency. She describes the work she does as “movement based.” Her goal with creating this residency was to introduce the students to the creative process of site specific dance and perform at the end. Her style of performance is different from those of normal performances that happen on stage. She performs in public or unconventional performance space to engage the audience differently as well as the performers. Before the students are able to create their own performances Leah and members of her company teach the students the basics of interpreting a space through movement and sound. Once the students have these basics down pat they are able to choose a location within given limits to create a performance.
"Rivers and Tides." YouTube. YouTube, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQiHfgFnY_A&noredirect=1>.
For Andy Goldsworthy art is a form of nourishment. He expresses his need for the land because of the similar energies he feels in the land and within himself. The idea that this growth and time will only last for a duration of time inspires many of his pieces. His art makes a temporary mark on time. When he flies to new sites he does not waste a second on research or resting because time will continue to move on with or without his readiness. He prefers to manipulate piece nature with inherent care and creativeness. Especially part of nature we tend to over look like leaves and icicles. “Total control can be the death of work,” is a quote he uses to describe the uncertainty he felt when he began to create art outside of his university.
Lerman, Liz. Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2011. Print.
I had a meeting with Leah today and she gave me a list of great resources! The following source was perfect for figuring out the space that I am. The book follows the creative process of a site-specific performing, from questioning the performance to the final product. Lerman’s first chapter is called Fueling the Imagination, in this she talks about her visit with a Nobel Laureate. She ask him “how do you ask yourself a question.” He responds, “I am fueled by my ignorance.” She thought that his simple answer was not only profound, but also described her artistic process. This question to self leads to asking people other questions, even with the fear of asking them. Since we define smartness by the precisions of someones answer, instead of the steps they took to find an answer. Throughout my process my questions may seem silly, but i have to remember that it is apart of learning.
Borrow, Jonathan. "Subject / Inspiration / Stealing / Familiar Movements / Choreography / Referencing Others Self Expression." A Choreographer's Handbook. Abingdon:. Abingdon: Routledge, 2010. 30-36. Print.
Leah also recommended A Choreographer’s Handbook. In a chapter in this book I focused on the chapter called Subject / Inspiration / Stealing / Familiar Movements / Choreography / Referencing Others Self Expression. Jonathan Borrows talks about having an idea and treating it as such. For example, Thinking that someone with do fouettes throughout the performance is a cool idea, but does it work? How does it fit with the space? Sense this is site dance what does this movement mean? In order to create a great piece I must put in the work and utilize my space. It almost seems that he is alluding to procrastination.
Black Performance Theory. Durham: Duke UP, 2014. Print.
I am equally interested in site dance as I am in Black performance theory. Since I am using all Black dancers I thought this would be a great idea to add an elements of Black performance. Black peformance is an art form that translates the black experience in America. It’s political and therefore controversial. This theory “gives distinct attention to” the beauty of black bodies. Movement that is created to accent the bodies of black people and the struggles they have been through. Black performance theory does not only pertain to dance, but also art, poetry, prose, music, fashion design,etc.
Bloom, Lynne A. The Intimate Act of Choreography. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh, n.d. Print.
This source focuses on the art of actively creating choreography. Since choreography is an action it can only be planned and carried out by doing it. Similar to my Subject / Inspiration / Stealing / Familiar Movements / Choreography / Referencing Others Self Expression annotation, since I am creating site specific dance I need to make sure I am well acquainted with my spaces. Therefore I can create choreography that is specific to where I am working. In order for the performance to be effective it needs a theme. Specifically a theme that can be easily conveyed. So far my theme is going to be education in SLA.
Olsen, Andrea. The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making. Connecticut: Wesleyan UP, 2014. Print.
This book speaks about dance as a universal language, making it one of the best art forms. It makes communication between cultures easier and enjoyable. As humans we belong to each other and more importantly we are belong to the Earth. Since we have evolved with the world, naturally we have learned movements that are a part of our environment. Therefore, as a choreographer I am not creating movement I am mimicking the world's natural movements. This also stems from the theory that we are all natural born dancers. Dance is movement and movement is dancing. As a choreographer I must tap into the human body's natural movements to make my theme easily conveyable on a universal scale.