Currently, I have a small collection of moments, but nothing cohesive to the point of an established narrative. I want to share an experience of a person going into the scanner for the first time via classical dance (with some theatrical elements). This week, I spent time formulating my story’s direction and defining the various parallel experiences I’d like to incorporate:
For inspiration, I revisited one of my favorite memoirs, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who learns that that he’s diagnosed with a terminal form of lung cancer. What I admire most about his storytelling is his ability to navigate critical transitional moments, like exchanging his doctor’s coat for a patient gown. There’s a sudden change in his local environment and the rate at which he now has to live his life has altered.
Like Dr. Kalanithi, delving into these transient moments and trying to make sense of the unfamiliar is the how I want to share my story. Ultimately, I want the audience to walk away from this having better understanding of ourselves and how the world works - to know a little bit more and to reach beyond those who usually engage.
While building the exercises for PD Movement Lab last week, I thought about how best to distill the movement I wanted to create into easy to process images and words. I wanted to make something replicable and easy to memorize, partly improvised, and able to be portrayed by unique bodies with a myriad of movement abilities. On top of that, I wanted to portray two very distinct qualities. In order to inspire the most accessible movement worlds between hydrogen protons before, during, and after the magnetization phases in an MRI machine, I focused on direct and indirect movement, as well as emotional states of being displaying similar aesthetics.
As we warmed up in the chairs I made sure to accentuate our efforts towards visual focus. I found it a great tool to establish both a sense of fluidity and freedom, as well as a fiercely focused effort. Adding to our visual focus we also played with direct and indirect emotional physicalizations. Utilizing stock characters from commedia dell’arte, the essences of the Lovers versus Pantalone were tapped into. Physical elements from the first stock character I chose, the Lovers, revolved around being light and airy, chest lifted, arms out, eyes foggy, and hearts fiercely focused towards their partners. The second stock character was contracted while their arms were lower at their sides, fingers grasping and clutching. To build a mind body connection, I added the voice with repetitive lines like, “I love you, I love you, I love you!” and “Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme!” I described each of their points on the status level within the structure of drama back then, but relied heavily on the essence of each character for improvisational play. I was able to engender distinct modes of emotional grandeur between participants, with relatively ease.
I built off of these effort qualities when I moved into standing and moving across the floor, when I created the two movement worlds from another pair of conflicting characters: the toro and the toreador (or the bull and the bull fighter). One exudes a grandness and haughty nature complete with swirling flourishes, while the other is a display of brute force and direct unstoppable energy and focus. The physical essence of the toreador can be seen with a lifted chin and chest, within a spiraling torso, exposing and hiding his heart while sweeping his grand (imagined) cape from side to side. The toro itself casts his gaze downward while directly focused on the red cape, and while there was some side to side movement while transferring weight from foot to foot, the main point of focus was the forward direction of his horns, portrayed by raised fingers of course!
Our musician, Andreas Brade, played percussion and piano throughout, settling into a nice musical quality, carrying within it a driving baseline while adding arpeggiated lines in the right hand. It was a great time shifting in between both modes, and I called out during the transitions, whether or not some magnetized feelings were longer lasting than others. Overall I found it to be a great exploration with these themes and I was happy with how it turned out. I’ve included some sketches I drew after class…