Monday, April 11, 2011

Carnival Ah! & Spring Workshop

One of the most oft-quoted Duncan sayings is her line about a “school of life.” As I try to find my way with this work in the world, I keep coming back to the myriad ways Duncan’s dance is hard to define. It blurs boundaries between concert and social dance forms, between dance and theater, between art and life.

Klytemnestra rehearsal
Perhaps Kate Cleary put it most succinctly recently when she said it was a somatic movement practice that has been academicized. It is a dance form built on intuiting specific movement pathways resulting in a movement vocabulary that can be codified, but the dancer is still tasked with generating the movement from his or her own source. There is a map, a blueprint, but Duncan’s dance is not simply a mimetic art form.  You can’t just pretend to splash—you actually have to get wet.

Klytemnestra rehearsal
This is one of the ways Duncan’s dance is closely aligned to theater—to accomplish the movements you have to really do them.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a bit about Duncan’s close artistic friendship with Russian theatre revolutionary Constantine Stanislavksy. Stanislavsky’s legacy to actors is the concept of action/objective. You have to do something in order to get what you want.  If the actor does not accomplish really doing on behalf of the character, then the audience is not going to believe the character.

I think dancers can benefit from training in the art of really doing, of synchronizing intention and physical action. This is what brings movement to life and makes the dance matter, both to the performer and to the observer. This is one of many skills that studying Duncan’s dance technique can teach.

Klytemnestra rehearsal
I’m feeling very blessed to have so many opportunities to share this aspect of Duncan’s work in the coming week. Tomorrow, my Modern Dance I students will take the stage on the Rio Grande campus of Austin Community College for an open technique class from 1:30-2:40pm. If you are in Austin and want to try this movement, join us as part of Carnival Ah!, ACC’s annual spring humanities festival. I’ll be teaching a straight-up Duncan technique class, tunic and all. 

If you can make it to Houston on Sunday, April 17th, I’ll be teaching a three-hour Isadora Duncan Spring Workshop at Divergence Vocal Theater’s new space, after the premiere performances of our newest collaborative opera Klytemnestra. And if you are interested in all things Greek, check out Nancy Wozny’s "Greek Drama Gone Wild" article about Houston’s latest Greek invasion.