Disturbing repitition:Technological Interference in the Choreographic Process. DRHA2010

For the past few days I have been taking part in the DRHA conference. Despite my initial reservations some of it was really really interesting.

Digital technology’s impact on dance and performance is not something I had ever thought about. This conference had brought to light a whole new area of academia that I knew absolutely nothing about. The use of digital technology in recording, interpreting and distributing dance performances appears to be quite complex and it brings into question notions of identity, origin and linearity with perceived shifts in emphasis, from the dancer to the medium into which it is being expressed. I found Mark Coniglio and Verena Anker’s talk fascinating. They discussed a project called loopdiver.

loopdiver aimed to explore the concept of loops, using loops in video as a choreographic tool – in essence compose and impose loop structure from video of a base choreographed material: a 5-6 minute long performance that was complete in its own right, then through the process of imposing loops in the video of the original performance the video was transformed into a 60-minute long choreographic ‘score’ which the dancers then had to execute, memorize and perform.

The hour-long performance work uses highly complex patterns of repititive movement, music and video, it looks like the dancers are stuck in a jerky video that keeps rewinding and stopping. It is actually quite a disturbing piece of chorography, and shows just how technology can mess with something ‘normal’ and turn it into something extraordinary.

The digital materials (in this case, the music) maintain the absolute precision and perfection of the computer, while the learned choreography is necessarily imperfect due to the dancers interpretation and the video providing some impossible movements, or the absence of natural movements. When placed together on stage, it is like the dancers are in a constant struggle to break free from the repetition. I would of loved to have seen this life, the little excerpts that we were shown made my the hairs on the back of neck stand on end. It’s really creepy, but fascinating to watch.

loopdiver 2009 from troika ranch on Vimeo

Notes for Mark Coniglio, and Verena Anker : Reflection vs. Intervention: Technological Interference in the Choreographic Process
• has technology actually played an instrinic part in the choreographic process?
• Technological breakthrough: but the choregraphy hasn’t really been affected. Digital tech has been added afterwards (recording, interpreting and distributing dance performances)
• Different ways to put movement together and accept it. Forceing to change practice
• Intervention whole more promise than digital reflection
• Loopdiver
• Repetition of movement, looping of movement
• Automic looping of dance
• Compositional piece as an irritative process
• Re thinking their work practices due to digital intervention. Producing changes to the choegraphic process
• The loop as a choreographic tool – compose and impose loop structure on video of base material, rendered video becomes the choreographic score, how to execute, memorize and perform the choreography
• The choreographic process, negotiation and memorization and then synchronisation and performance.
• A methodological challenge – impossible movements, absence of natural movements
• Modification allowing physical execution of looped step
• Original score should be changed as little as possible
• Development of new movement techniques and specific vocabulary
• a 5 minute piece then looped into a hour long piece which was then given to the dancers to learn
• group must synchronize to loop structure – dissonance through individual assimilation
• developing points of reference, theatrical lighting, other dancers, sound cues
• orientation towards the environment helps to emancipate from looped base material and allows dancer to perform “the video made us dance in a way in which we would have never moved without it”

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