photo by Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang

Friday, January 16, 2015

Brushing with Dance Dramaturgy

I went to a class taught by Keith Hennessy at the 2015 FRESH Festival. Some of the exercises he had set for us posed the question: What is it that you actually do when you arrange a dance for sharing?

We seem to agree on that the kind of analysis of their work I, and many other choreographers, do during the process would be called dramaturgy if done by another person dedicated to the task.
To me it seems that what dramaturgy means in dance becomes defined by how and what you do. Every discussion predictably arrives at it being a wide concept.

Discussing dance dramaturgy seems to be tied to a certain era of European dance. It has a lot to do with resources: who can afford to have a person dedicated to research and discussion in their project. In terms of the projects produced in that time Keith talked about the desire to produce well researched and thematically focused work that eventually seemed to turn every piece more or less the same.

(To me it may look like that after any trend has reigned enough time in Western dance. And how hard are we / am I attached to the Western demand of continuous renewal, reincarnation, rebirth, recreation, renaissance? More of that some other time.)

So, what would dance dramaturgy mean after that time has passed? What now after a while of messier fleshier dance pieces?

Here is what I want, and need as a choreographer and audience: I am still looking for that connection between what should never have been separated because they are not separate, body and mind. Dance dramaturgy is in a pretty unique position to bring it.