As this course draws to a close, I take time to reflect on all the eye-opening experiences I have had. I am so privileged to gain exposure into the compositional world of dance. I never imagined myself having the potential to grow so vastly in choreographic means. The only choreographic experiences I’ve had prior to this course were those of my Composition I class last semester. I came into this course with minimal knowledge about the process of making movement. The outlined objectives for this class overwhelmed me at first. However, I decided to go into this class the same way I would anything else: with an open and accepting mindset. I was being challenged from the onset. Not only was I uncomfortable creating for myself, but also consistently finding myself unsure of how to create. I never thought about using compositional devices until this course introduced me to quite a few of them. My work with choreography progressively became easier as the course advanced. Solo assignments were due every week of class. This pushed me to continue applying devices I learned from the previous study. For example, in the beginning of the course my movement was hardly ever locomotive. Once I made a mental note of having parts of my studies be locomotive, it naturally seemed to happen as I was generating new solos from there on out. My work also improved in terms of varying subdivisions with meter of music. I consider myself to be pretty musical. I pick up on the meter of a piece of music, but honestly not in any way thought about subdividing the meter with my movement. We focused a lot on this approach to the compositional process. I was most successful with this in my solo following a meter of five-eight tempo, a meter of three-four tempo, and one non-metered sequence. I was shocked by just how many subdivisions I made for each meter. Every meter of movement was different, featuring different tempos and dynamics. It was one of my better studies made this semester. From then on I started applying this device to any new choreography I composed. In addition to these, I started playing with the choreographic structure of my solos using some problem solving strategies I gained in this course. If I find myself getting stuck while creating, it’s good to look at the spatial patterns and levels of the movement to give the piece that much more dynamic. My best work comes out of applying this idea, especially when looking at my second-to-last study. By simply changing the choreographic sequence structure and adding levels to those sections, my piece became something wildly different and way more powerful. Overall, I feel confident in using these compositional tools to reform and revamp my choreography looking forward. It’s only a matter of drawing on my sources and deciding which ones to use.
A great thing about this course are the recurring class discussions about all the things we’ve touched on and devices we played with, along with each student’s personal growth with the material in the course. I love how the whole class is encouraged to express their thoughts and opinions on other’s studies. This isn’t something I am usually comfortable with and this course provided a warm and open atmosphere for me to share my genuine thoughts and opinions. Class discussions consist of constructive criticism, pointers and advice, opinions, thoughts, etc. They have really developed since the beginning of the course, specifically my individual discussions concerning my work in class. I kept a journal during this course where I jotted down the notes I received from instructors and peers to consider as I choreograph in the future. Some outstanding notes I’ve gathered deal with the choreographic structure of my studies. I’ve been told and noticed myself how the movement quality of my pieces have the tendency to blend together. There is no clear shift anywhere in the work, whether that be dynamically, narratively, etc. I also struggle with creating distinctly different sections for a study where the requirements are such. My pieces carry the same tone from start to finish. I took this note to heart and chose to reform my choreographic tendencies. I believe I made small accomplishments with every new solo study I presented each week. As I collected numerous pieces of advice to consider when creating I attempted to use the majority of these devices in order to keep developing my movement vocabulary. For example, there were several solos of mine that carried the potential for locomotive movement I didn’t make use of. It took time, but once this notion set in I began generating actual locomotive material which genuinely changed my work for the better. This is what I’ve truly enjoyed the most about this course. All the feedback and suggestions can only benefit me. I get to try out plenty of innovative ways to structure and produce movement I wouldn’t gain elsewhere. Other great devices I revisit are experimenting with spatial patterns, incorporating moments of stillness, and emphasizing the first count of a meter while the subdivision counts are noticeably smaller. I do think I am at a point where I naturally feature the larger part of the compositional tools I obtained. I am quite proud of the choreographer and mover I’ve become having took this course.
I was required to see three concerts this semester put on by the Dance Department. Having seen a variety of performances, I picked up on the diverse choreographic structures of the pieces. Specifically, the two pieces that resonated with me are Ann Sofie Clemmensen’s and Eddie Taketa’s works in the Dance Department’s annual Dance Downtown show. Both pieces are of the contemporary style, but organized so differently. My newfound compositional work and knowledge lets me view pieces through a completely new lens. Sofie’s piece opened the show. For this piece, the costuming element is integral of the work. The overarching theme of the piece was the community of women. Choreographically, the dancers started with unison work all moving on the same straightforward pathway. This developed the community theme the dancers would move in and out of for the rest of the piece. Sofie’s work features quite a bit of floor work, usually locomotive. Part-way through, the dancers break off into sections that either cannon or compliment the other section of dancers. Sofie tends to work heavily with weight shift and release of the upper body. The dancers started the piece wearing the same long black dresses. As the dance progressed, at a random point each dancer removed the dress from their body, revealing only a bra and brief underneath. This is what develops the dancer’s identity within the community. Once the dress is off, it frees up the whole body and allows the dancer to take any pathway presenting more gestural movement unique to the dancer. The piece ends in unison with the dancers falling sporadically in a foreword progression. The ending was beautiful, symbolizing a little bit of failure and obstacle, but always taken with a foreword progression. Eddie Taketa’s piece also features this sense of togetherness. Opposite of Sofie, Eddie’s piece highlighted a light and airy quality of movement rather than heavy floor work with weight shifting. Eddie’s work clearly addresses every aspect of the music. Every beat, subdivision, and accent is depicted through the dancers’ bodies. The choreographic structure was constant with a free upper and lower body. There are never any real moments of stillness. The music for this piece was constant as well and the evident driving force for the movement. everything about the music was direct, so the movement reflected that direct nature in terms of the quality and spatial patterns. I could trace the imperative spatial pathways. All the dancers were so immersed in the work which let the audience get lost in the performance. I appreciated how both pieces had clear dynamics and the dancers worked through the same dynamic to the end. Opposite of my personal work, these pieces had shifts in other facets of the choreographic structure to avoid letting the piece become monotone. These changes happened in regards to level, tempo, unison or solo work, spatial pathways, etc. I understood the beginnings of new sections. Seeing these performances helped me visually see all the components that can work in a dance. It mostly showed me the possibilities are endless. There is no right or wrong piece of choreography or way to generate it. I have plenty of compositional devices to pull from as I start to think about my next choreographic project. I have a general understanding of how tedious the process can be and what it feels like to have fully developed a section of material. I am grateful to have experienced all that I have in the duration of this course. These are bits of knowledge and moments I will carry with me forever. I have my instructors and classmates to thank for it all.