Presenting new works in dance, film, visual art and theater!
Saturday, May 25, 8pm
(excerpt from graduate paper: subject/object, 10/28/12)
According to Nicely, the live performance transcends to a filmic setting when Lafrance slithers down the table to soothing music and low soft light. This scene, “keeps onlookers at a polite distance” proving that certain conditions control or provoke an audience reaction to the female body. Nicely concludes by defining home as more than a safe place, “but instead characterizes an experience when subject and object cease to matter and, instead of standing separate, are mutually engaged.”
One man’s catcalls during this number break my attention, an acting out that demonstrates how some take this sexually charged imagery as an invitation. Does he really feel his vocalization is the “appropriate” response at this particular moment, or is he just uncomfortable? I consider various splits between subject, object, and subject/object, as I keep one eye on my safety, one out for the female performer’s protection —in which I participate as both a woman and
a fellow human—and another on the man’s escalating excitement. A sense of danger is present even if there is no real risk here—the pervasive threat to women in many societies invades the room. (p166)
In this passage, the catcalling man immediately affects Nicely’s experience. She presents the stereotypically female community minded reaction of worry for other’s safety, as well as her own. Nicely keeps “one eye” on her safety but, almost simultaneously empathizes with the female performer and the other women in the room. She is sensitive to the extreme vulnerability that the artist must be feeling, not only as a performer, but also as an objectified performer. The catcalling also evokes the extreme gender imbalance that women of different cultures face. Some women in the room may not be able to recognize the catcaller at fault, and feel uncomfortable. By describing the catcaller as “acting out” she immediately places judgment on him, reducing the man to a misbehaving little boy. I appreciate Nicely’s perspective that the catcaller is at fault. He does not know how to behave at a performance and is unable to control his “escalating excitement.” The catcaller has taken the “sexually charged imagery as an invitation,” which is indicative of the porn-obsessed, over-sexed, sex sells culture that we live in. I commend any artist who can elicit a nonsexual audience reaction to nudity. The catcaller proves that women have so much more work to do to break out of the category of object.
Intention: To take up space in a confined space. To be stable. To be confident. To notice the effect of this movement on posture and facial expression.
Resources: A staircase. One women (+ one – five more for part 2)
Part 1 – 2 minutes
The woman sits on the stairs in a way that she takes up space. Then she shifts to a different step and sits again in a way that takes up space. The dance continues, playing with timing ranging from a long pause in between sits to very quick pauses. When she is finished, she leaves the space.
Part 2 – 2 minutes per solo
A different woman enters the stairs and performs her interpretation of Part 1. This can be a replication, a variation, or a combination of the two. She is improvising off of the material presented in Part 1. When she is finished, she leaves the space.
Then a different women enters and repeats Part 2. Her dance references the solo that occurred right before her.
~Continue so each participating person has a turn~
Assessment: Discuss the emotional responses of the audience and of the performers. How did gender play out in the dance? How did the space support or distract from the dance? Then, engage in a discussion about how men and women approach space – this discussion could begin by noticing how everyone is sitting – are the women crossing their legs, are the men’s legs wide open? Without being too generalizing, enjoy the process of observation in the moment.
Perform 4: Collaboration on Life Script
Intention: To show how people relate to one another, when given the option to relate, in a small space. To also notice any gender norms that are in play in regards to the men’s versus women’s execution of the script.
Resources: Two men. Five women. One stairwell.
Part 1 (3minutes)
Form a clump, standing in the stairwell looking down. You can
a) keep your head down
b) lift your gaze and look out
c) lift your gaze and look at someone (eye contact can happen or not)
When you are ready, exit the stairwell. Once everyone has existed, re-enter in any order and begin part two.
Part 2 (3minutes)
Move through the space taking up as much space as possible. Do not worry about accommodating others.
Assessment*: Collaborators share observations with each other. Ask performers how they felt, what urges did they have, what was difficult, what came naturally.
*Amend the script based on the assessment and repeat.
2. What classmates have said – read through emails/notes
(excerpt from graduate paper: Exposing Individuals in Performance, 10/11/12)
Society and human behavior act as influences for Newson, more than individuals do. While Pina Bausch and European dance shaped his style of dance composition, Newson draws his inspiration from his surrounding environment. His work’s focus is the “social and cultural representation of embodied human beings” (Bench). DV8’s work is about the “particular individuals” on stage, exposing their needs, desires, frustrations, joy and curiosity (Butterworth). Once the underlying theme of a project is established, the creative elements, influence the work. For example, early in a project’s development Newson, and his collaborators, create the set. He explains, “The performers can then work with the set and ensure it becomes embedded into the performance. The environment needs to be lived in, and the set explored before the production week(s)” (Butterworth). The feel, cultural context, and “psychology” of the project’s space remains in the work, throughout from development to performance (Bench).
Living and making work within the British culture raises questions for Newson on what is accepted as a cultural norm and what is unacceptable. A prevalent influence of his work is the human quest for perfection. Moreover, he observes how people hide or cannot hide their differences (Boden). Newson exposes the moments when people choose to show their differences, and the resulting intimidation or physical abuse that they face (Newson). Newson justifies his continuous questioning of human behavior as a subject, with the statement, “I hope that through this work audiences will become more aware of the lives of people hidden under the veneer of a liberal and supposedly tolerant society” (Newson).
(excerpt from graduate paper: Exposing Individuals in Performance, 10/11/12)
DV8 productions center around the body and challenge the boundaries of movement. However, Newson will add in other theatrical elements stating, “If I cannot find appropriate movement, I will also use words” (Butterworth). With precision and intention, Newson adds in text, a set, and a range of bodytypes when directing work. He is challenging the construction of dance, and questioning, “who gets to dance?” He explains, “Dance, I think, is a great form to talk about these issues.” (Boden). He chooses individuals, based on who best performs the part, and not on their shapes or sizes. Newson, “get[s] people to move honestly with their body,” inviting the audience to discard a preconceived notion of “dancers.” Newson is challenging dance audiences to expand the image of “the dancer.” He is not rejecting dance, but following a belief that the genre of dance, can extend beyond “the youthful, beautiful, slender, able-bodied performers” (Boden). In comparing dance to theater, Newson argues, “Dance, more than any other art form is training everyone towards the same visual ideal. Imagine if every actor were the same size, spoke the same lines at the same time, wore the same style costumes, moved in the same manner, didn’t analyze what they were saying and retired by the time they were forty!” (Tushingham). Not only do the performers of DV8 embody their own movement styles, but their approach to conceiving movement extends beyond working in a dance studio. To push his capacity for choreography about a particular issue, Newson sends his company out into the public to engage in research. In defense of his nontraditional choreographic approach, Newson offers, “My concern is for dance to connect with and talk about the real world, so it seemed logical to send the performers out of the dance environment, in order to observe and interact with it” (Butterworth).
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