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Communicate the Choreographic Intention

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 911
  • Category: Dance

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Choreographers always have an intention for their dance works, but can a dance work be complete without the aural setting to communicate the dance intention? The most common aural setting is music; when the choreographer chooses the accompaniment. Besides music there is found sounds like the traffic a busy Monday morning, the sound of a bouncing ball or silence, the traffic here would become the choreographers chosen accompaniment to communicate the dance intention. Revelations by Alvin Ailey, 1960, shows Ailey’s memories from his childhood with the church and mother figures as the main inspirations and the things that filled his childhood the most. The accompaniment is almost hymn-like with humming sounds and slow soft vocals.

The title of this dance refers to a book within the Bible: The Book of Revelations. Strong language by Richard Alston, 1987, also respond to the music. Alston’s idea was focusing on the rhythms of the accompaniment. The dancers movement dynamics changes several time to either match the accompaniment or counterpoint. Strong Language involves movement based on Cunningham material with footwork of classical dance with just a hint of contemporary social dance. Sergeants Early’s Dream 1984 by Christopher Bruce. This piece combines English, Irish and American folksongs and folkdance with contemporary dance. Bruce tells a story about migration from one country to another and leaving the ones you love behind through this dance.

In Revelations Alvin Ailey uses voices to sing hymns through the whole dance. Since the whole piece is about Ailey’s blood memories of women in church the accompaniment relates to the choreographers dance idea brilliantly. The audience clearly see this in section1,3 Fix me Jesus. This is a duet between a man and a women. The male dancer is standing behind his partner and hovers above her while she sinks and rises and he compliments her actions. The female dancer performs some tremulous hand gestures as if trying to draw the power and strength out of the ground, the male dancer does the same but above her head as if he was blessing her, this is repeated and draws a line between the previous song; section1,2 Didn’t my Lord Deliver Daniel. The audience see the dance idea straight away in this little phrase of movement; women in the church.

In Strong language Richard Alston mostly uses sound/noises as his accompaniment however the audience also sees a male jazz section and a lyrical female section. In the male jazz section the found sounds has been replaced with a tambourine, guitars, drums and bells dipped in water. Four dancers enter and work in file across the front of the stage. They begin a phrase of movement which repeats. The movement features rapid swings in the torso and a swaying motion and progress slowly across the front of the stage. The lyrical female section the aural setting has been replaced with a manipulated strumming sound to get a gentle rhythmic patterning. The dancers movements is alternately loose and relaxed, with emphasis downwards, and sharp and held, with the emphasis upward. Alston takes sounds from everyday life for example the traffic or natural sounds like wind and water.

Because the dance idea was to simply respond to the music the accompaniment is the main thing for this whole dance piece, the audience is supposed to really listen and make connections from the movement to the accompaniment. We see this in the beginning when the audience see a solo dancer moving out of a curved position into a phrase of leaps, tilts and almost scooping arm and leg gestures at the same time as the accompaniment makes a drilling sound. The dancer moves in a diagonal across the scene, she goes into leaps when there is a loud strong sound as if a glas or a window is breaking and continues in silence afterwards, it is almost as if Alston is trying to create a chorus and verse with the dancers movements instead of the accompaniment. Because the dancers react to the sounds the dance idea is immediately shown to the audience.

In Sergeants Early Dream Christopher Bruce uses music. You either chose your music and then create the dance or create the dance and then chose the music or a collaboration happens between choreographer and the composer. Since the dance idea was migration to another country and leaving your loved ones behind the music links in by choosing folks music from England, Ireland and America. The accompaniment and movements are supposed to tell a story, we clearly see that in section 1, May Morning Dew, where the audience gets introduced to the idea of being on a ship sailing away by the backdrop. The audience see all the dancers with the front to the backdrop except one woman who stands beside a vertical pole. The dancers start to dance in pairs offering support to each other while performing intricate footwork, jumps and complex floor patterns with inflections of hips, shoulders and wrists. The dancers break in and out of the couples dancing independently and in unison. The dancers movements are wistful and should give the feeling of longing for the past.

There is a large range of accompaniment in the world and for choreographers it’s all about finding the right aural setting that will make everything come together and make it work; communicates the dance intention, whether it is silence , found sound or music or something totally different.

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