Seeta Kanhai Thesis 1 Parsons The New School for Design Fall 2011 | Anezka Sebek http://bfadt2012.wordpress.com/
During the summer, I was inspired by the live performances that were included in a Dance History class. From seeing the performances, the students were often taught the basics steps of the dances. From training, it was evident that there were underlying links across the world of dance. Yet, the dances themselves are precedents for the project. The professor, Joya Powell,1 who taught the course is trained in West African dance and ballet, among plenty of others and she is certainly someone I can reference as a mentor. Rhythm and music, dancers moving with evocative body shapes and intricate group patterns have noticeable similarities from culture to culture. But they are rarely noticed by the uninformed eye and ear. How different are we? How are we the same? Culture can be expressed through secular dance and is a gateway to a new world of music and customs. The idea of “the other” or “the stranger” is an element that is sought after and looked at from a distance without the in depth exploration. I plan on dissecting the similarities in dance forms across a multitude of secular dance genres. With such expressive dance forms, it is common to see the general difference and appreciate the exterior appearance of what the dance represents in the contemporary sense. We look through our personal lenses* (see glossary) and perceive or attach a particular extent of knowledge that may apply to a region of dance and continue to generalize the forms. The idea behind this thesis is to change that initial perception of vast difference amongst genres and enlighten the audience with the similarities of structure within and throughout 1 Movement
of the People Dance Company. 2011. <http://books.google.com/books/feeds/volumes?q=http://www.movementofthepeopledan ce.com/>.
the explored dances. It is important to glorify the similarities because more often than not, we are taught to see the difference in appearance, meaning, and form. It is my goal to examine and observe the nuances, which strike through the included genres through choreographed and respective musical representation of the collaboration. Expressive dance forms should be treasured for their individuality. However, I find that it is important to highlight the connective element that runs from genre to genre. Inevitably, I believe linking through editing will coerce the viewer to focus on the miniscule parallels of the exhibited dance forms. The point of this project is not to detract from the beauty of difference, but enhance that point by simultaneously proving how similar genres can be by juxtaposing the dances. My aim is not to break barriers, but to glorify them. To do that, I want the forms of each dance to show the fluidity and continuity as a unification factor, although there is a difference in general exterior appearance and context of dance. Keeping true to the dance forms, there would be a study of the basic choreographic forms of each. It is the “unity of nearness and remoteness”2 that should be depicted if executed properly.
In terms of research, I have recently taken a course on the history of world dance and dance cultures at Stony Brook University. The assigned text was a dance reader entitled “Moving History/Dance Cultures: A Dance Reader ” by Ann Dils and Anne Albright. The reader features many entries from anthropologists and dancers alike. Aside 2 Kurt
Wolff (Trans.) The Sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press, 1950, pp.
from the aforementioned source, I have been watching many dance pieces across the Internet from works of Maclay to Balasaraswati.3 Form studies and choreography of William Forsythe, “Pas de Deux” by Norman McClaren, “Ohio” by Robin Bacior serve as precedents to my thesis project. These artists, directors and dancers act as precedents for my work in terms of choreography, dance study and editing styles. These are important due to their underlying meaning. Editing is not merely for aesthetic value, but for the didactic storytelling that sometimes cannot be verbalized. This means, that I not only want the viewer to dissect the dances alone, but the actual editing of the piece as everything is deliberate. In essence, the goal is to create a work that emanates the aforementioned works. Presently, the outstanding questions lie within the actual choreography. Thus far, I have been studying the physical dance forms for the simplicities and similarities that carry through from genre to genre. Part of my iterative process is to fully acquaint and educate myself with the basis of the dances that the video encompasses. These iterations serve as form and structure studies. While the shots are not necessarily “beauty shots” or shots revolving around creative cinematography, they focus on achieving the goal of observing the dance forms. At this point, I am breaking down genre-by-genre study and focusing on mainly American Ballet. The next dance genre to compare and study is the South Indian classical dance, Bharathanatyam. I am skilled enough to shoot and edit the piece, however I am not capable of constructing the video’s choreography. This does not mean that I am not capable of completing the music video. What it does mean is that 3 Center
for World Music: Balasaraswati. 2010. Web. <http://books.google.com/books/feeds/volumes?q=http://www.centerforworldmusic.org/ bala.html>.
there will be a necessary mentoring and design outside of my discipline. Conversely, after completing the Sound Design course at Parsons, I am much more comfortable in editing minimalistic soundscapes and pieces. The ideal audience for this project is dancer. The point of this is to exhibit the resemblances in structure and form. With a viewer that lacks this knowledge, there is a greater chance recognizing the illustrated point. Ultimately, the target audience would range from the uneducated dancer who is interested in form study and similar and vast differences found within and across a multitude of dances. The user would then dissect the piece and exhibit the information in a critical manner.â€Š
Based on what I have produced thus far, I can make a realistic calendar for production. Due to the hyperactivity of my current schedule, it was much harder to gauge production time and create connections with dancers. This means that there are not enough hours in the day for me. For the next semester, I will have a faster pace of working as I will have a far less demanding schedule to work around. In terms of speeding up production, it is necessary to micromanage the thesis schedule I have created. Scheduling dancers to perform and freestyle to multiple genres of music such as classical, fusion or contemporary world music, and rap and hip hop has been accomplished for the most recent iterations. The idea of capturing information through the moving image is important, not only because of my comfort with the medium, but the relaying of information is instant to the viewer with the constant frame-by-frame capture. My iterative process presents different methods and experimental editing techniques, while infusing minimal color theory.
I have been scheduling dancers to perform and freestyle to multiple genres of music such as classical, fusion or contemporary world music, and rap and hip hop. The idea of capturing information through the moving image is important, not only because of my comfort with the medium, but the relaying of information is instant to the viewer with the constant frame-by-frame capture. My iterative process presents different methods and editing techniques, while infusing minimal color theory. My process involved booking dancers and studio space at The New School. In addition, there were studies of line and form along with educating myself with the language of dance. At the end of the semester, I worked on my sound design final in which I supplied the auditory accompaniment to the visual dance aid. The process involved much more directing and focus on what should be depicted by the dancer. After seeing Norman McClaren’s Pas de Deux I instantly wanted to investigate more frame study, human and digital. Searching for visual aids and exisiting music and dance videos, I stumbled upon Robin Bacior’s Ohio video in which she used multiple panels of the same choreographed dance. Interpreting that as multiple perspectives on the same dance and genre, I later progressed with making a rough compilation edit of dance with my recorded footage. It was literally clicking and testing different options provided by the editing software, that I tested along with pre-planned ideas of the overlay & frame blending. For the second semester, I will continue with screen tests and editing techniques at the beginning of the semester or through the January break. From there, I will begin to piece together the dance forms. At this point, I want to limit the dances to two genres. These genres are: American Ballet and Bharathanatyam. Both have influenced eachother and have highly comparable stances between the two. During the second semester or in
the preliminary weeks, I will be working on the audio track to serve as a platform and guide for the choreography of the dance forms. At that point, intense editing sessions will be geared toward the final iteration of my thesis project. For next semester, I am wrapping up lo-fi iterations and jumping into production of the finalized piece. Ideally, it would be a plan to host this production at a gallery and inevitably the web. Envisioning this project in a festival is something that I continue to focus on, as well. (definitions by my usage & my own description!) Glossary: Lens – The perspective of the individual questioning: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How. (i.e. the geographic location/native to location, culture/wedding/religious, temple/stage, ritualistic, and with what “props” like clothing/anklets/music) “The Other” / “The Stranger” – The take on the foreign culture or a people of another region. Secular Dance – A form of choreographed or non-choreographed dance that has been placed on a stage; at one point not all dance was secular in that there was a joining of bare feet to the ground. In removing the bare earth as a platform and enforcing a stage for public performance or display, the dance has then become “Secular” in form. Choreography – The arrangement or manifestation of dance in a structured or nonstructured form. This can be a planned act or non-planned. Culture/Religion – This is usually the driving force behind many world dances or can be considered the root of dance, in general. From tribal to high art performance piece, both of the terms have influenced the evolution of dance over the course of time. Music – According to the genre of dance, there is the audio accompaniment included to aid in telling the story of the dance. (i.e. In West African dance, there are vocals layered on top of percussion/drum beats where as in Ballet there are vocal-less string orchestras that serve as accompaniment for a piece.) “Props” or Property – (i.e. anklets, cultural garb, costume, instruments additional to the dance) These are items included in dance forms that aid in storytelling. Gender – (Roles played in dance tell stories) Feminine and Masculine gestures have roles in dance and choreography; some dances are limited or were once limited to gender.
High/Low Art Form – This is how the blind eye defines genres based on the exterior perspective/knowledge of the dance form. Match-Cut Editing – Style in which the editing will take place; juxtaposing the various dance forms continuously throughout the piece. *NOTE: other types of editing are currently being tested. (production calendar) :: THESIS I :: November – Week of: 11/27 – Create final presentation, continue editing footage, test the “Ohio” music video technique, Create a potential soundtrack December – Week of: 12/4 – Continue working on Soundtrack in Protools (Sound Design final) 12/11 – Stitch together past footage with new sound as mock test/edit, Continue with dance studies and new dancers *Book Studio Space for Next Year’s filming dates* _________________________
Production Calendar first and projected second semester
Spring 2012 Semester :: THESIS II :: January – Monthly goal: Film Bharathanatyam Dancers, Collaborate with musicians for recordings / Experimenting with sound design (during this period, I will be at home*) Week of 1/23 – Begin editing the filmed footage and testing editing techniques Week of 1/29 – Meet with main dancers to collaborate on choreography of dance, Record techniques, Composite ideas February – Week of 2/5 – Edit recorded Techniques, Continue with Sound Design (Record Musician at New School/outside of school) Week of 2/12 –Choreography/Dance meet up, Produce preliminary storyboard with dancers Week of 2/19 – Continue with Sound iterations, Music Theory tests (eastern/western sounds), Create 1 – 2 Minute Soundtrack during Sound 2 (teacher aided – collaboration?) Week of 2/26 – Send sound to both dancers, cover the bases of included choreographic structure (what should be intentionally included in dance, in terms of choreography and transitions), Updated shot map: Include shot by shot ideas March – Week of 3/4 – Dance Meet (Recording Session with both dancers – Studio must be booked in advance: 12/2011) Week of 3/11 – Edit footage with applied sound (show class iteration for critique) Week of 3/18 – Dance Meet (Recording Session with both dancers – Studio must be booked in advance: 12/2011) Week of 3/25 – Edit footage with applied sound (show class improved iteration for further critique)
April – Week of 4/1 – Tweak Week I: Continue with edits of sound (if necessary) & dance stitching Week of 4/8 – FINAL Dance Meet (LAST Recording Session with both dancers – Studio must be booked in advance: 12/2011) Week of 4/15 – Tweak Week II: Continue with overall editing process, applying filters / color theory / etc. Week of 4/22 – Complete editing for FINAL Critique Week of 4/29 – Revise and Show piece for possibly last round of Critique (with proper sound design) May – Finesse Piece (no major activity/alteration)