Thursday, November 29, 2012

Invisible Threads are the Strongest Ties

Each day, we are surrounded by more and more connections, and the more we choose to notice them, the more numerous they seem to become.  After successfully completing my first semester at UNCSA, my eyes have been opened to this plethora of connections.  Just to discuss a few, I have created a web of the connections between four of my main classes: Digital Media for the Artist, Dance Perspectives, Technique, and Pas de Deux.  This web has illustrated for me how intertwined my arts and academic classes really are, and I now understand how much each depends on the other.

To begin, I’ll start with the connection between DMA and Technique.  Digital Media for the Artist has allowed me to increase my knowledge and skills of working with websites, as well as taught me the importance of using new media for professional purposes.  My Technique class is the basis of my dancing and has allowed my artistry to flourish while still maintaining my foundation.  Though each of these classes teaches different things, both are necessary to further my career.  I need technique so that I can physically “get myself out there,” in the same way that I need to know how to “get myself out there” through new media.

Second is the connection between DMA and my Dance Perspectives class.  In Dance Perspectives, each of the dance faculty have come and talked to us about their past, who they’ve trained with, where they have danced, favorite roles, etc... Ironically enough, both of these classes have benefitted me by learning about artists from the past and learning from their stories.  In DMA, we read about and learned from artists such as Laura Karpman, Matthew Herbert, JR, Lev Manovich, and others.  In Dance Perspectives, we’ve heard from Susan Jaffe, Warren Conover, Sean Sullivan, etc, and heard stories of their days at ABT, Limon, Harkness Ballet, etc... All of these stories have enriched my knowledge of who is training me and increases the depth and importance of what I can learn from them.

Speaking of training, this leads to the connections between Dance Perspectives and Technique.  Both of these classes help me grow as an artist through training as well as through knowledge of my trainers and their histories.  Not only does my technique class improve my training, but knowing where my teachers’ training is from and knowing how successful their careers were gives me even more faith in them and allows my technique to progress even further.

My technique class is also connected to my Pas de Deux class.  Pas de Deux, or step of two, is a class for us to learn how to dance with a partner and gives us the chance to become more comfortable with the feeling of dancing together.  Both of these classes are necessary for my growth as a dancer and as an artist.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to continue improving which would hinder me in the world of dance.

Keeping the world of dance in mind, this leads me to the connection between my Pas de Deux class and Dance Perspectives.  Though these classes are entirely different, they both have one underlying aspect in common: storytelling.  In Dance Perspectives we learn through hearing stories from our instructors, and in Pas class we learn through telling stories with our movements.

Last, but most definitely not least, is the connection between my Pas class and DMA.  This connection stood out to me the most because I expected it the least.  DMA focused on composing conversations by working together and discussing topics.  In a roundabout way, we have done the same in Pas class.  We have worked together to create conversations through our movements.  The man might offer his hand to the girl, asking her to dance with him, and the girl may answer by gently placing her hand in his, completing the first “sentence” of the combination.  So, whether it was through media or movement, both classes involved collaboration and conversation to create some form of composition.

Overall, I am proud to say I am beginning to see more and more connections between my classes.  I also know that the number of connections between my future academic classes and arts classes are bound to grow, creating an encompassing web that ties me to the rest of the art world.  As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Invisible threads are the strongest ties,” and I believe that their strength increases each time we choose to notice it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Absence of Dance...

Last week I researched the history of dance in Islamic culture to find that there really is no history because there really is no dance.  It has been looked down upon by most Muslims with the exception of one group known as the Sufis, which view dance as a way of connecting with god.  However, there was also a brief point in time where Iran had their own national ballet.  It was very successful but was quickly disbanded after the fundamentalists took over.

From this research, I chose the theme of restraint to portray in my composition this week.  After going through some ideas, I decided that I wanted to film a dance with a partner that shows him restricting my movement, or holding me back from doing what i could.  However, my original idea fell through when my partner was unable to show up on Wednesday so I had to modify.  Instead of having my partner restrain me, I decided to pick a song that conveyed restraint or control.  After reading the lyrics from Regina Spektor’s song All The Rowboats, I knew it was the one.  The song itself has a very interesting sound and the lyrics have an underlying feeling of struggle and restraint (“all the rowboats keep trying to row away, row away.....they will stay there forever and a day...then there’s lock up, masterpieces serving maximum sentences...”).  I felt like these words somewhat paralleled with the way a dancer in Muslim culture might feel.  Here might be someone who might have incredible potential, but they will either never know it or will never fully reach it because they are held back by their cultural restraints.

I used some movement from my comp study to show restraint: hence the reaching out and pulling back, as if almost attaining something but never getting there.  Overall, I am happy with how my project turned out, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Simple Thoughts...

To be honest, this unit didn’t really “hit home” like it could have.  I found no inspiring connections between my art and Islamic culture, nor did I find it particularly intriguing.  However, I was surprised to find out information about the dance that used to exist in Muslim countries.  For example, I was somewhat shocked to discover that Iran had a professional ballet company, but apart from learning interesting little facts such as that, I didn’t experience any sort of epiphany or realization of anything that I could translate into my own art studies.

Personally, I would not want to go to a school that based their courses solely on real-world issues and happenings.  However, I do believe it is essential to incorporate these factors into classes.  For example, my AP English 3 teacher required us to do short “Current Events” papers each week in which we would research something going on in the world that was relevant to what we were covering in class.  This way we could connect our studies to reality.  I had similar assignments in my AP Human Geography class as well.   My teacher, Mr. Ford, would require us to do what he called RPHs.  These RPHs (Research, Print out, and Highlight) also created connections between the real world and our course material by allowing us to look at how a certain subject might appear in the world today.  With that being said, incorporating real-world elements into classes is, in my opinion, a necessity, but I do not believe that organizing a course around real-world problems would be quite as beneficial to the students.