a dance with three steps

An exploration of the process of creating dance


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Genius

William Forsythe

When it comes to creating dance, a choreographer has to be able to multi task. A choreographer has to be able to visualize and create movement for the individual dancer. The steps and choreography are important  elements to a dance, but there is also the visual art aspect of dance. A choreographer has to consider what their use of space and imagery will evoke in the audience. One choreographer that is really genius when it comes to creating work is William Forsythe.

William Forsythe's One Flat Thing, reproduced

William Forsythe is an American born dancer and choreographer. He was a resident choreographer for the Ballet Frankfurt from 1984-2004, and in 2005 started The Forsythe Company. Forsythe’s choreography is very interesting for the dance world because of his love for math and geometry.

William Forsythe's One Flat Thing, reproduced

One of his most famous contemporary works is One Flat Thing, reproduced which premiered in 2000 by the Frankfurt Ballet. This piece has over 200 cues that the dancers have to abide by, as the piece is structured by the dancers taking cues off of each other. Forsythe’s mathematical thinking can be clearly seen through the use of tables that the dancers, at the start of the piece, run, drag and set up in a grid. They then proceed to dance on, around and under these tables.

One of the most amazing things about trying to understand this piece is a website called Synchronous Objects that explains the complicated nature of the piece by “translating and transforming them into new objects – ways of visualizing dance that draw on techniques from a variety of disciplines.” The project was created by scientists from Ohio State University’s Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and artists from the Department of Dance. This website and project is incredibly helpful for understanding and analyzing the complex interlocking systems of organization that Forsythe has created.


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Art and Inspiration

Having recently created a Pintrest, I’ve been collecting imagery in my head about how my dance should look and be structured. I’ve been looking at a lot of Dadaism (or anti art) and thinking about how that could translate into movement (or anti movement, whatever that means…). My darling mother loves to reference “The Lovers” by Rene Magritte, which is featured below:

Rene Magritte The Lovers 1928

Rene Magritte The Lovers 1928

Dadaism, or Dada was an art movement during the early 20th century. This art movement was an anti-war response that aimed at rejecting the norm and standards of art at that time. The Dada movement was an angry one. The people who fueled the movement were not only anti-war, but also radical left and anti-bourgeois. Dada came about in the form of visual art, theater, literature, poetry, theory and graphic design. There was not much of a response in the form of dance, which is interesting because a lot of Dada visual art portrays people, gestures and imagery.

Rene Magritte Intermission 1928

Rene Magritte Intermission 1928

Rene Magritte (1989- 1967) was a Belgian artist who specialized in painting. His works are considered surrealism; they challenge the viewers idea of reality in art. A lot of his paintings are realistic until you realize that the things being portrayed would be impossible in real life. This sort of imagery is something that I would be interested in using in my own choreography by playing around with the ideas and imagery that Dada presents. However, I can understand why dance was not a prevalent form of response during the Dada movement because its surrealism; it’s hard to physically represent the unreal! How can one portray bodies of just one arm and one leg?! The challenge is enticing…

Rene Magritte, The Musings of The Solitary Walker 1926

Rene Magritte, The Musings of The Solitary Walker 1926


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Remy Charlip

Welcome! This is a bloggity blog blog about the sources of inspiration that I deem necessary in the creation of a new dance. This piece aims to be around 3-5 minutes long. But first, I’m going to need to conceptualize the work drawing from inspiration found in history, emotions, objects, imagery, etc. Basically anything that draws my eye could be used to create a dance. In order to achieve this mystical dance, one will need to create movement, analyze it, then edit it. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I run out of time and need to present it. So, without further ado, welcome to THE process (or just MY process as every choreographer is different… THE sounds much more dramatic though…)

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Where to even start?! From the beginning I guess… but maybe somewhere around the middle and I’ll work my way around to everything. Here is a nice picture for me to get the ball rolling with:

dance with three steps Remy Charlip

First you may exclaim: Why, this is the name of this lovely blog I am currently reading!

Second you may ponder: Who is this lovely Remy Charlip?!

You probably don’t have a third, so I’ll just bore you with the history of myself, Evelyn, and this lovely photo (which, unbeknown to you, is actually a card that my sweet mommy and daddy wrote me to commemorate my first professional performance at the ripe old age of 7 in the 1999 premiere of “Moon” at the Joyce in Chelsea, New York.)

Now! Onto the good stuff. Yes, this blog name has been borrowed from a genius named Remy Charlip. No copyright infringement intended; I just have a special emotional connection to this card, phrase and idea. Come on, a dance with three steps?! One would assume the three steps were a turn, jump or roll. Instead, this faceless dancer is performing a plethora of movements on three steps! SO DAMN CLEVER. Thank you very much Remy Charlip. Wait wait wait. Do you know who Remy Charlip is? Shall we address question number 2? Because I certainly think so..

This is Remy Charlip:

Remy Charlip

Remy Charlip was a dancer, choreographer, illustrator and author. Born January 10th, 1929, he died rather recently on August 14th, 2012, 84 years young. He did everything. He influenced a great deal in the artistic community throughout his entire life. He participated in and created dance, art and literature (i.e. everything beautiful and good to the world!). He was creative and unique enough to run alongside greats like Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Charlip was one of the founding members of Merce Cunningham and Dancers. Not only did he perform as a principal in Cunningham’s company, but he also designed all of their costumes while he was a member. He also co-founded the Paper Bag Players, a children’s theater company. In the field of art, Charlip illustrated picture books until he started writing and illustrating his own; he is responsible for the creation of more than 38 children’s books.

Charlip is also well known in the dance community for his 1960’s series of “Air Mail Dances,” where he would send a series of sketches of gestures to dance companies. The dancers would then pieces together the gestures and and create the transitions and dynamics on their own. This is an interesting choreographic choice (which also parallels Cunningham’s use of chance), in which the choreographer has a part in the choreographic process of creation (the building blocks), but also leaves a certain amount of the choreographic effort up to the dancers. This is really useful because choreographers can see other routes in which their movement ideas could have gone.