Language, Image, Action: Experiments in Self-Expression through Multimedia Choreography
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Communication is a seemingly simple concept focused on the way we give and receive information, both from significant events and from each other. There are a myriad of ways in which communication takes place, but three stand out: movement – how our bodies respond to and give information, language – written and spoken text, and visual imagery – the many signs, gestures, and images that trigger out thoughts and memories. In my senior thesis project this year, I have been exploring the way that these three mediums work together to deepen our expression and understanding of a person’s life. What, and how, does each of the elements contribute to this? I decided to make the focus of my project person stories of events in my dancer’s lives, told and expressed by them. I wanted the dancers to truly embody this work, therefore, it made sense to use material that they already had a connection to. Through the use of film projections, this project explores the extent to which language and movement accomplish self-expression. My research and rehearsals focused on how dancers use each medium to reconcile personal events with pivotal moments. For example, the ways that the dancers physical express their feelings during the events, and what images come to mind when they look back on that specific time period. The first stage of this work involved researching different multimedia artists and choreographers to have explored similar terrain. I then developed movement material and text scores directly derived from my dancers’ personal stories. The use of different mediums in dance works is becoming increasingly prevalent. Quite often the use of so many elements can be overwhelming. One medium could distract from another one and become more of a distraction than a complement to the other elements. My goal was for each medium to complement the others in order to show different facets of each of the dancers’ stories. My project culminated in a live performance of the final mixed-media work on March 25-26, 2011 in Kendall Studio Theater. The work that was performed combined live movement, spoken and recorded text, and film projections. These elements were derived directly from the non-fictional personal stories of each of the dancers; however, each of the elements was developed and presented in non-literal ways. For example, fragmented excerpts from spoken stories, abstract movement gestures and phrases derived from more pedestrian and pantomimic sources, and projected images distorted in various ways. Each of these elements contributed to making the work more relatable to for viewers. Because the dancers were not literally telling personal stories, and acting out scenarios, there was room left for interpretation. Audience members were able to gather fragments of information and piece interpret them in their own ways. The personal process demonstrated by the dancers while performing the choreographic work was paralleled with their processes in the creation of the work; both processes dealt with the issues of how to effectively communicate personal issues through a choreography weaving together a rich kinetic and visual tapestry of movement, language, and images.