Monday, March 12, 2007

Movement, expression, randomness - dance

"You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls."
Merce Cunningham

Dance need not be co-ordinated, beautiful, or set to music. It can be random, powerful – almost theatre, and exist with music which does not necessarily lend much to the dance itself. This is what Merce Cunningham believes, and it is what I saw at a performance by students of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company last Saturday. It was a dance in nine pieces, and none of them was related to any of the others. It was not dance in the usual sense of the word – not a classical art form like we are used to seeing in India, like Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi, or Mohiniattam, nor was it typical western choreography like that in Broadway plays. Merce Cunningham’s dance form is very influenced by Dadaism and the Zen philosophy, and as is quoted on his website, he is ‘not interested in telling stories or exploring psychological relationships: the subject matter of his dances is the dance itself’ – the viewer is free to interpret the dance however he or she wants. The dance would look random to the untrained eye, but there was a definite intention in every movement. That was part of the craziness of it all, and the beauty.

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