Feed of

“We had to be aware of every part of our body and make it look alive” Merrill Ashley, Classes with Balanchine. This quote applies to every kind of dance. It describes a dancer’s duty to know every part of their bodies and how they look when performing on stage. In all of the dance styles we have seen, the dancers demonstrated exceptional ability to control their bodies. Baroque, the Fall for Dance Festival, and Kathakali were different styles of dance with different aspects, but they also shared many common factors.

The Baroque style of dance contained beautiful costumes, simple movements, and a lot of attention to detail. The first performance that we saw involved four women with hand fans. These women were wearing lavish dresses and at one point they put on masks. This style of dance was interesting because unlike modern ballet, which involves a lot of movement, the women focused on precise small movements. For example, the beauty of the dance focused on the ways the women moved their arms and struck different poses with the hand fans. Every detail of the movement was important, from the position of the arm to the small precise movements of the wrists.  Also, the women only made small, light steps with their feet. This made the dancing look simple. However, their precise movements and poses showed a lot of strength and grace. In addition, the main performance of Baroque Dance, Zephyre, was different from Kathakali and the Fall for Dance Festival, because it combined dance with live music and singing. The live music made the dancing more energetic and alive. For example, the fawns in Zephyre danced very lightly on their feet and had quick movements. The live music contributed to their energy. However, the singing, although beautiful, became a distraction. It was difficult to pay attention to the dancing while also trying to read along with the text of the singing. As a result, it became easy to get lost in what was happening in the plot. This took away from the ability to enjoy the play. However, even through the confusion, it was easy to see that the precision, gracefulness, and lightness of the dancing was the result of hard work and the dancer’s attention to their bodies and movements. These aspects made the Baroque dance style interesting to watch.

The Fall for Dance Festival involved four different performances by four different companies. The first performance had props, humor, and a style of dance that involved quick movements that covered big parts of the stage. In the beginning of this performance the dancers were standing in different areas and lightly swaying. There was a fan on stage blowing in their direction. Everything was quiet except for the fan. This resulted in a creepy atmosphere filled with anticipation because the dancers kept swaying for a long period of time, which left the audience wondering what was going on and what would happen next. This performance also involved screams that were unexpected and as a result humorous. The dancers in the performance were running on and off stage, falling down, and throwing up leaves that were spread out all over the floor. This type of dance was different from the Baroque dancing because it was not as graceful, but instead energetic and wild. It made me feel as if I was in the center of a busy city street on a windy fall day surrounded by hurrying people. The third performance featured a man dancing a solo. Throughout most of the dance the man focused on movements with his arms. Also, a few times he would get down on the floor and use only his hands to pull himself across the stage. There were some moments where the man would go up stage and pause  in a dark area of the stage. This dance got repetitive and boring. However, the man’s movements were precise and he demonstrated a lot of strength by pulling himself across the floor with only his hands. Even though he was only using hands to move, he did not forget the rest of his body and did not let his legs simply drag behind him. He had a lot of control over everything he did. This dance showed that even though in some instances when the body is supposed to look relaxed, dancers still maintain control.

The second and fourth performances in Fall for Dance were the most interesting and emotional. The second performance featured two ballet dancers, a man and a woman. The woman was tall and had long arms and legs. All of her movements were beautiful and flowed together. Her dancing was similar to the dancing style of Baroque because it was also graceful and small details were important in contributing to the grace. However, it was different because she performed larger movements with her legs and covered more areas of the stage. This dance was more emotional because of the interaction between the two dancers. All of their movements told a story. In Against Meaning in Ballet, Edwin Denby says “Art takes what in life is an accidental pleasure and tries to repeat and prolong it.” This describes the second performance perfectly. The interaction between the two dancers was something that you would see between two people in real life. For example, the woman would try to run away and the man would catch her. It was as if watching real life in slow motion. These movements were smooth and bewitching. It was hard to look away from the dancing and I’m sure it made many people in the audience wish that their real life looked as beautiful as what was happening on stage. These aspects of life made the performance easy to relate to and more emotional than the other types of dances. Also, this performance did not have any props or extravagant costumes as the ones involved in Kathakali and Baroque. Instead it was simpler and this simplicity focused everyone’s attention on the dancing. The Fourth performance was longer than the other three. This performance was fun to watch because it contained a lot of dance numbers, good music, a theme, and different dancers playing different characters. The last performance felt more like watching a Broadway musical. There were some fun upbeat songs, but also some slow emotional songs. The choreography conveyed the message of the songs through the dancers bodies. There were some dance numbers that involved all the dancers, and there were other dance numbers that only involved two dancers. This variety made the last performance the most exciting. There were moments that created an upbeat fun feeling. For example, at one point the dancers were all out on the stage swing dancing. This created a lot of happy energy because the stage was filled with dancers who looked like they were having fun. They were doing quick movements and traveling all over the stage. However, as soon as it felt like this performance was a little too happy, the atmosphere would change. The dancers would leave the stage and instead only a couple stayed behind. The interaction between those two dancers was more personal and emotional. This performance contained many different aspects and took the audience on a journey through many different emotions. It started and ended with the same song. This created the feeling that everything was complete. It made the audience feel like they finished the journey.

Kathakali dance places a lot of emphasis on costumes, make up, and facial expressions. This separates Kathakali from the styles of dancing seen in Fall for Dance. In Kathakali, the costumes are so large and heavy that they barely let the dancer move. Kathakali focuses a lot of attention on what the dancer does with his face. For example, we went over some of the basic facial expressions in class, such as moving the eyebrows up and down. Also, as we learned in class, dancers of Kathakali have certain hand movements that they have to memorize and they use these hand movements to tell a story. In order to become a performer in Kathakali, it obviously takes a lot of training. However, this is not the most effective style of dancing. In Kathakali it is hard to convey messages because there are so many distractions such as the bright make up, big costumes, facial expressions, and hand movements. The performers in Fall for Dance were able to convey messages simply through the positions of their bodies. However, since Kathakali is a type of dance drama the costumes and make up do form a dramatic atmosphere. However, it is hard to enjoy Kathakali because it is difficult to understand what is happening in the story.

The Fall for Dance Festival, Kathakali, and Baroque dance, all demonstrated different styled of dance. However, no matter how different, all the dances shared some things in common. All of these dances were art forms that took their inspiration from life and the abilities of the human body. All of the dancers were trained and had incredible control and awareness of their bodies. Even though some of the dances such as Kathakali and Baroque were hard to understand, it was still easy to see these common aspects. All of the dance styles made me realize that words may not be the most effective method of communication.  The movements of the human body can be used to express emotions that could never be expressed in words.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.