Friday, September 21, 2012
Choreography for Audiences – Take One: Dance Film Review
Choreography for Audiences – Take One: Dance Film Review
By Dawn Paap and Leslie Kilpatrick
On September 15, 2012 we joined a large group of participants at the Irondale Theatre to welcome our chance to participate in a live human game and choreographic/social experiment conceived and choreographed by Noemie Lafrance as part of Brooklyn’s inaugural BEAT Festival.
Although there have been debates about film versus live performance, Choreography for Audiences -Take One challenges these ideas by delivering a blend of each to offer a unique experience for audience attendees. How often do audiences have an opportunity to view a film’s creation on set or in real time? Or step in to participate? Thankfully, Sens Production invited in audiences to experience an interactive dance film and work with internationally renowned choreographer Noemie Lafrance.
As part of an audience (or participants) adorned in outfits of green, blue, black and tan, the check in line was a buzz of questions about what we had studied in preparation for the games that await us. Prior to shooting the film, each team separated to go over the instructions with Team Leaders regarding varied movement sequences, and discovered how to strategize to earn points.
Blurring the lines between audience and performer, participants were allowed to observe games being played and step in to be a part of the action. Behind the scenes vantage points offered a unique viewing experience for all involved…with chaos and unity happening simultaneously…while achieving a one of a kind visual artwork. With a dozen geometrical shapes and patterns created through human movement, chaos, and structure, Choreography for Audiences - Take One allowed audiences to witness a live event like no other.
While taking part as spectators, we each quickly realized the scientific dimensions of art we were viewing and experiencing. From mathematical patterns, to the social experimental element, to the complexity of the choreography to include crowd control and space, we witnessed LIVE art at another level.
The most challenging game seemed to be the ‘Fractal Box’ which relied on participants following a 2-4-6-8 unfolding pattern on grid lines to create geometric patterns known as fractals. With participants lining up to quickly move across the grid, while needing to count steps to create the fractal shape and finish each mathematical set before other teams, things got a bit messy at moments for each large group, but were quickly corrected through a team effort.
With each of the games, we witnessed participants colliding & instinctively adjusting around each other, testing Lafrance’s theories on Kinesthesia within the context of this social experiment. Kinesthesia is defined as an acute human sense that notifies the brain where the body is with reference to the matter around it. It is the ability dancers have to move in unison by perceiving their surrounding often assisting with musical cues. Kinesthesia is often referred to as a sixth sense because in 1557 Julius Caesar Scaliger originally described the position-movement sensation as a “sense of locomotion” and later called by Charles Bell “muscle sense”. However, today scientists instead classify Kinesthesia as a combination of external & internal sensations to and from the brain.
Learning theorists would also point out that having an opportunity to view the games in play allowed participants to gain awareness and be more able to maneuver their bodies to each game’s ending position with fewer errors once they rejoined the action. This is reflected in Noemie Lafrance’s Bodies as Media Huffington Post article which states: “By transmitting the content of the work to the audience, as if projecting a film onto the audience’s body, we also transform the audience’s body into the media. The audience’s body has the choreography stored in it, waiting for activation and playback.”
We noticed that the longer the games continued, the more relaxed each participant became with timing and execution, including being more in tuned with one another, allowing observers to witness this transformation in action. As individuals mastered each game, the excitement about scoring points for one’s team and participation intensified. At the end, no one seemed ready to leave, and the audience side was mostly empty.
Lafrance’s mission to create art that is mass produced within a social experimental structure is as brilliant as it is ambitious. Social experiments are important educational tools for all cultures, as seen by decades of literature among the collective social sciences. What can this documented experience lead us to discover about one’s ability to read another’s presence, participate in competition, and master game play? What will this dance film offer in terms of inspiring future research on dance?
Noemie Lafrance’s vision as a choreographer is unique in its regard to audience involvement in her works, and offers much to the shared experience of dance for everyone. With her interdisciplinary approach of combining art, science, and technology for Choreography for Audiences - Take One, she offers an innovative look into performance language and challenges how choreographers traditionally communicate with audiences.
Taking audience communication even one step further, Sens Production is sharing copies of the film with each participant, allowing individuals to share their creative experience with broader audiences through the ease of social media sharing platforms. We’d like to extend our appreciation to Noemie Lafrance and Sens Production for inviting us to partake in Choreography for Audiences - Take One. We look forward to seeing the director’s final edit of the dance film and sharing it with others.
In conclusion, we’d like to officially give this dance film a rating of “Two Thumbs up” from the Blue Team!
Dawn Paap, Director of Video Dance TV http://About.me/DawnPaap
Leslie Ann Kilpatrick, the Dancing Mathematician http://About.me/Leslie.Kilpatrick