Delving into Sections of Music

In my Composition II class this semester, we were given a study that dealt with how people hear music sectionally and how we can show those sections in our work. The process started by our professor, Susan Hadley, giving us four song options and it was our job to pick one, listen to it, section it based off of how we heard it then create work to visibly show this sections within our work. I quickly realized that in order to make these sections visible, it was best to try to do the opposite of the dynamic that you used in the section before. For example, if your first section is free flow movement, your next section could be bound movement in order to get the audience to quickly recognize the new section.

For me, this was exceptionally not easy. I focused on trying to use my arms to differentiate the sections at the beginning of the piece. After the first draft, I noticed that with my arms needed to come a dynamic shift as well in order to emphasize the change of section. By my final draft, I was able to connect deeper into each section and make it its own. Although this was not my best work of the class this semester, I felt a sense of vulnerability with it as it expanded past my comfort zone and challenged me in new ways I have not been before. Thus, I felt it is only right to share this with the world as it shows my path as a choreographer. Your work will not always be perfect but it’s the learning process that counts.

Below is the video of this study performed to The Last Bird by Zoë Keating. Enjoy.

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Finding Strengths in Compositional Work

This semester in Composition II taught by Susan Hadley and Josh Manculich, I was able to find both strengths and weaknesses within movement studies we were given. Below is a paper I wrote in this class focusing on two strengths I had found in my movement making process throughout the semester.

The fast 5/8 study allowed me to discover my first strength of the semester:  being able to work conceptually within my movement. For this study, I wrote down notes in my journal such as “hit a hard one,” “transitions transitions transitions,” and “move fast and proficiently.” I learned within this study that I enjoy picking apart prompts that are given to me and constructing my own ideas with certain characteristics within the said prompt. I then use this constructed idea to make my movement as clear and concise as possible while showing the particulars that I had picked out. This strength allows me to play with choreography and keep digging deeper into the prompt in order to keep making movement that specifically shows the notion of the study.

The floor material study presented me with my second strength of the semester: using different methods to delve into material and break away from my tendencies. Coming into this study, I knew that I had a natural affinity for moving on the floor.  When choreographing floor work, I use improvisation to create material then piece those individual movements together. Since this study required me to use so many different meters, I was able to challenge this strength.  I pushed myself to find new ways of generating movement with the restriction of using different speeds. I cut the music and improvisation out of my choreographing routine. I replaced my normal methods of creating with silence and critical analysis of my movement.  I then asked myself what different paths I could to take to simultaneously change the movement and remain within the guidelines of the study. Could I speed it up or slow it down and still make it work? Could I change the quality while still adhering to a specific tempo? Once this study was created and performed, I realized that embracing my strengths while challenging myself to continue exploring those strengths not only increased my movement vocabulary, but also gave me a basis from which to approach my studies in the future.

Focusing Attention on Personal Movement

In any movement learning or watching based situation, I often tend to never have the same thought process more than just a couple of times. I am always trying to find new language that would help me to better understand the movement quality, initiation and space dynamic of the choreography. This helps me to perform the choreography exceptionally better each time. Thus, helping me to learn different strengths and weaknesses about myself and what I need to work on.

In a learning based situation, I often tend to look at the teacher or professor as a whole the first time around in order to get most of the movement rooted in my head. The next time around, I then look at specific parts of the body to find placement, initiation and time qualities. These parts of the body often tend to be the torso and the arms. I think I watch these two the most due to the fact that these two parts of the body are how we get our body to move so efficiently. If your arms are ahead of your movement and correctly used and your torso is engaged, your body will be able to be able to move efficiently to where it looks effortless to other people.

While I am personally performing movement, I often analyze my body by checking in to what being engaged and working the most first. I will then check the placement of my body second and space dynamic third. This three-step list seems to be what works best for me. It enables me to check in with every single thing I should be doing and performing. If a part of me is not engaged and I then go to look at my body placement and it is wrong, I will know that I need to engage my body differently in order to get to that placement. Combing those two steps and getting them right will then allow me to take up more space since I know how to perform the movement efficiently.

In watching other dancers perform movement, I often tend to look mostly at the legs and head. I will only be slightly interested in the arms if they are the main focus in the choreography. I am only interested in the torso area when it makes big movement. I find this interesting since it is the total opposite of what I look at while I am learning movement. In fact, that could be the reason why I look at others in a different way. To restate what I said before, our arms and torso area are the basis of why we can move our bodies so efficiently, so when I am watching movement, those areas working make the rest of the body seem effortless and easier to watch.

Composition I Final Duet: Fighting Tendencies

I had the pleasure of working with Anthony Milian, a classmate, for our final duet we created for Composition I class led by Daniel Roberts. For this final study, we were given the task to defy and go against our natural tendencies. My natural tendencies are:

  1. Facing the audience – Opposite: Finding different facing and directions
  2. Breaking lines in my arms – Opposite: Finding full lines and not segmenting
  3. Consistent Tempo – Opposite: Tempo changes and extremes

Anthony’s tendencies are: Continue reading “Composition I Final Duet: Fighting Tendencies”

Global Dance Community: Ashley Thorndike-Youssef

To finish out the year in Freshman Seminar, we were paired up and assigned a project where we were given a professional that is creating work to contact. I had the pleasure of working with Lisa D’Onofrio to interview Ashley Thorndike-Youssef, a PhD alumna from The Ohio State University. Lisa and I did quite a bit of research before we went into the interview to figure out what kind of information we would like to know from what was already put out there. While talking to Mrs. Thorndike-Youssef, we asked her a couple of question that were based off of the findings that we found out about her.

Q1: What are you currently working on?
Answer: 
I am currently running the Now Next Dance Company, dance and leadership organization, that holds teaching and training programs for college dancers, current professional dancers, and local youth. I also am working on Continue reading “Global Dance Community: Ashley Thorndike-Youssef”

Documentary Work: “Marine Corp Life: A Veteran’s Perspective”

In Freshman Seminar, we were assigned a project in which we had to make a documentary. This documentary could be about anything the heart desired. There were no limitations or exact guidelines that had to be followed except that it had to be atleast 1:30 and no more than 3:00 (minutes). At first, this freaked me out. I am a type of person who loves structure. So when I found out there was not much for this project, I didn’t know where to go or what to do. My initial thought was, ‘Why not make it funny and produce a documentary on the life of a coffee cup?’ Then I said, ‘No. That’s too… “eh”‘.

Then my parents came to visit me that weekend after we were assigned the project. As both of my parents are veterans of the Marine Corps, instantly I thought, ‘Marine Corps! That’s it!” I recorded my dad, got my film and went to work in Final Cut Pro. At the end of editing, I was pretty proud of what I had accomplished but it was my first ever documentary so some things could have been better.

Continue reading “Documentary Work: “Marine Corp Life: A Veteran’s Perspective””

A Place Like This

I decided to watch the documentary “A Place Like This” by Tall Story Films.This documentary is based on a story from an older-aged white male. It never gave his name at the beginning of the documentary. In fact, I never found out about his name until the end of the documentary when it gave a follow up about the man. It was not until then that I found out that his name is Alex Jenkins.

Jenkins at the beginning of the film started to talk about gardens and water. The b-roll footage made a lot of sense with this as it showed colorful footage of a bird sitting in a tree, healthy flowers that were growing and a water fountain flowing beautifully Continue reading “A Place Like This”

Gravity of Center: A look into dance film

In the second semester of Freshman Seminar, we are now diving into more professional and creative projects. The first of these projects is to create a dance film. Since most of us have never created a dance film before, we were assigned to watch the dance film of our choice from three options. The dance film I chose to watch was Gravity of Center that was performed by RUBBERBANDance Group.

While watching Gravity of Center presented by RUBBERBANDance Group, I started to notice just how important different angles are in dance film. I also noticed how much space there is between the camera and the dancer and how that effects your relationship and emotions with the dancers.

At the beginning of the film, the camera captures three dancers by switching multiple times from near and far angles. During these shots, as the camera zooms in and out, Continue reading “Gravity of Center: A look into dance film”

Moving Space

Our final project in Freshman Seminar for this semester was to make a site specific dance film in a space of a groups choosing in Sullivant Hall. The project focused on exploring a pedestrian space with moving bodies and how that can change ones perspective on that certain space.

My group chose the second floor hallway right outside lecture hall 220. We were attracted to this space for two reasons. One of the reasons was that it was a very populated area so we knew we could get some amazing pedestrian-like action going on while we were improving in the space. Continue reading “Moving Space”

The World of Sound & Music

Three words: Garageband is amazing. I absolutely love every aspect about it. Being able to learn about how to make music has really changed my views as a dancer and choreographer. Now that I know I do not have to turn to others’ music in order to create movement is a beautiful thing. I remember searching for hours for the perfect song for a piece that I wanted to create. I always had to settle for something just okay and that worked because I could never find the perfect song. Continue reading “The World of Sound & Music”