A nice little post over at Woodlands Home has me looking at this airborne photo in a new light. Is the female of the duet in the apex of a jump or nearing the conclusion of an assemble? Ahhhh, I love thinking in motion!
"This particular company, for the moment at least, call the Northern School of Contemporary Dance their home and Verve is the name given to the graduate company staffed out with some of the best dancers from the previous graduating year."
The opening duet is a great study in the movement text of Laban Movement Analysis.
Most all college trained dancers throughout the world have been exposed to this language for describing and crafting dance material. Words like dab, wring and flick are part and parcel of a conversation in a dance composition class. The language, though it is translated into many languages, I'm sure, is not the finite language of ballet. There is no step label necessarily given; instead dancemakers today may refer to a phrase or a section of movement with any recognizable to them made up label, but then they get down to this more common language from Laban. The note from the choreographer may be, "the movement needs to be more indirect" or “this is a dab, not a flick; it's press, not wring at this moment".
Seeing dance, one might wonder how the dancers remember the movement and how or where it came from, and once there, how is it crafted into what we see. The process is one of experiment, extruding and winnowing, and it has its own language. Release is not relax; textures are created, intimacies described and reworked. That punch or that sinking you might feel in your gut when you watch dance has been carefully crafted to elicit that response and the language has moved on from tendu and entrechat.
This is part of the reason I am well prepared to see ballet relegated to museum status. The language of ballet, though it is often where we begin, is old and outdated -- historic. I think we don't speak that language anymore--that 18th, 19th century movement language. Think about it; when you go to see the ballet, you have to have read the story and even then it may be difficult for a "civilian" to follow. The system requires dancers to begin their careers instead of having an extended education on dancemaking (usually college programs), so they are not trained and instead string together steps and movements seen in other work struggling to get to something interesting without a lexicon of movement passionately access from within their own movement libraries and with little language to use to craft what they have produced. The permutations on what is in the ballet lexicon may have reached its end.
So OK, let us continue to see great touring productions of Swan Lake from time to time, just as we still love to hear Mozart, but let us also stop trying to make "new ballets" and get on with what has been modern for almost a century. Today's innovators have accessed a wider lexicon and updated how they convey concepts that reflect our world, not a fairy world or a world of courts and royalty. We don't live there anymore. It is interesting from a historical aspect, but the artists of today need our support, and we need to experience what they have to express about our world. Let's move on; it's time. These beautiful student dancers from the UK have moved on. Can we catch up to them?
Hat tip to: Susan Miller's blog