By: Natasa Chanta-Martin
Last weekend I participated in a 8hour dance workshop entitled Visualizing Sound. It was dedicated to the sounds and rhythms we produce while dancing, audibly or not, and it got me thinking: the inner pace we give to our dance stands as an immediate scene-setter in regards to the atmosphere we create for ourselves and the audience. One could more easily visualize sound during a tap dance or body percussion show, but what happens during a performance of ballet, contemporary, hip hop, dabkeh… What if we were to observe a dance without the "necessary" musical accompaniment? How easily could we "enter" in the mood of the piece without its music? I immediately remembered Jared's performance during our second year of Choreomundus. We were being assessed on Perfomance of Heritage and while he had a whole piece of choreography planned out, the music and the video accompanying the whole performance just froze. He had two options, he could stop and ask for a second run or he could continue. Having already set the scene for us, Jared chose to continue and used his louder breathing as tempo and feeling-maker for the rest of his contemporary-hip hop performance. It was so inspiring!
So after searching further into this phenomenon of visualizing the sound you want to dance to, I ask you to try and guess the music of this video:
Then try and imagine what music, sound, or rhythm these dancers had in their head, what was the common pulse that made them move together at times? How did they know when to stop? What had their choreographer told them?
The exact opposite, but equally interesting, is when the music itself defines the dance and does not let you think in your own musical sphere. When you watch the dance in collaboration with its music it seems that you are trapped for life in the sound-picture the participants created for you. Yes, there is always personal takes in what we see and subjective opinions on aesthetics and musicality, but isn't there a point where all you hear is what you have been culturally taught to hear? And doesn’t what you hear up to a point define what you see? I ran into this amazing example video which was also part of an academic project:
What do you think ?
I invite you to engage in a discussion on this complicated phenomenon: the numerous possibilities dance has to visualize sound!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association or the MA program.