Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beginning Contemporary

Have you guys seen that hilarious YouTube video How to Contemporary Dance?  There were definitely moments like that in the contemporary class I took.  I think part of it is that there is no language for some of the things they want you to do.  So it's like, reach left, swoop around, do a hoppy thing, make this shape, throw your leg, turn.

This is not to say that there isn't technique to it.  It's not all loosey goosey as some ballet aficionados may believe (overheard in my ballet studio's locker room: "I don't do modern because I'm not interested in randomly rolling around on the floor").  It may look random, but there is technique to when something is held versus when something is released, where the movement initiates, etc.  

I am a bit pleased with myself that I was able to pick up the choreography at all, and only messing up a little instead of a lot.  I definitely wasn't able to when I last took a contemporary class over a year ago.  I feel like my body awareness has increased as well as my understanding of moving through space. (Yay!)

I do feel like there was an encouragement to just let go and DANCE in this class, which is not always given in a ballet environment.  Moreover, I don't like this kind of instruction in ballet class, because to me it's not ballet if you do it without technique.  Like, I appreciate when Monday teacher shows an overcrossed arm and says, "This may be pretty and flowy, but it's not classical ballet."  Modern is also pretty codified in my experience.  "That's not Horton / Graham, etc!"  There are rules and the rules are important!  Whereas I feel like in contemporary, they may say, that's wrong or bad or not what I wanted, but they wouldn't say, "That's not contemporary dance!"

As an artist, it makes sense to me to think about it as academic representational art versus abstraction or other contemporary forms or styles.  There is technique behind abstraction and the best of this kind of art (imo) comes from those who have good academic background.  But at the end of the day, there isn't the same sense of what it SHOULD BE, even though there is good and bad within it.  Like, if you are drawing a realistic figure, it will be very noticeable if your proportions are off, whereas if you are doing abstraction, even if you can draw a perfectly proportioned realistic figure, that's not the point of it.  And both still have objective standards of composition, color, etc.  Does that make sense, or is that way too ramble-y?

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