Dance Criticism Core Objectives: Critical Thinking, Communication Artists often
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Core Objectives: Critical Thinking, Communication
Artists often provide their own unique stories, ideas, and perspectives within the artwork they present. Understanding dance can be very challenging. It is an art form that uses the movement of the body to convey these unique stories, ideas, and perspectives. It takes time, education, experience, and a great deal of patience to start learning how to view, analyze, and interpret a choreographer’s message. Sometimes there is no message, but just an exploration of unique movements. How do you know if the choreographer is offering a personal story, idea, or perspective within their dance? The movement will always be the primary indicator for this message, but production elements such as costuming, lights, music, and scenery can help offer some clues.
In this assignment, we learn how to describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate dance in a compelling way. Using Feldman’s Model of Criticism, as modified for dance, you can examine any dance work in detail and begin to make sense of it.
Instructions: Watch the posted video below observing the movement of the dancers, their relationship, and the use of production elements. Be prepared to watch this video several times to assist you in this assignment. This particular video is a short excerpt of a full-length work. The entirety of the dance occurs within the seen structure. Anyone outside of the structure is a member of the audience or a musician. I have purposely left off the title and artist information. I will provide this information after the assignment due date to fully credit this artist and their work.
1.) Respond: In your first paragraph, describe the dance you are viewing. Provide an outline for the reader who has not seen it to give them a context, a mental picture. Think about discussing any significant production elements. Where are they moving? What are they wearing? Is there sound? How many dancers are there? What is the environment like? Then describe the kinetic movement of the dancers in what you consider to be the most revealing, interesting, or pivotal moment. In your writing, avoid the words movement, moved, or danced. These terms are vague and convey little detail. How did they move? Think back to your choreographic elements of time, space, and energy. For every descriptive action word (kick, leap, turn, fall, release, reach, etc.) there should be a corresponding descriptor (quickly, slowly, easily, freely, urgently, etc.). What if you were describing the dance to a sight-impaired friend? Would your description provide a visual image as to what you saw? Do not use timestamps to point out parts of the dance. (35 points)
Here is an example from a dance critic to help you. Can you visualize what they are describing?
Seven members of Streb Extreme Action performed in Rhode Island this Saturday, October 14, 2006, at the Providence Performing Arts Center in the production titled Wild Blue Yonder. The performance featured eleven unique and nerve-wracking pieces that each presented a different aspect of the sheer power of gravity and the human body. “Orbit” features two dancers, roped and harnessed, that fly around a tall pole to which they are connected at center stage. The bodies become free-flowing and unrestricted, intersecting creatively as their supporting ropes coil about the pole. They float and swim through the air in slow motion as if they were in a giant pool of water. The two simply lie supine on air, swinging farther and farther from the pole as their ropes unwind and they gracefully soar above the stage; the performers defy gravity on almost all levels. The camera located at the top of the pole magnifies the aerial view of the performers, illustrating their control, fearlessness, and precision while soaring through the air.
2.) Reflect: In your second paragraph, fully discuss what you think this piece is trying to communicate from the movement description you provided. What ideas did you see in the movement? How did the production elements add to your thoughts on this dance? In reviewing “Art and the Aesthetic Experience”, you learned that each person has their own unique life experiences they bring to the table when viewing art and therefore will have their own interpretation. Your interpretation of any artwork is valid if supported with specific details and examples. Take a risk! Go for it! Make sure you provide examples to support your thoughts. (35 pts)