The text below is designed to help an eager but low-confidence dance audiences in Baltimore get the most out of their dance going.First printed on the reverse of the ButterKnife program, 3/14/14, revised 3/21/14.
In the fall of 2013, I wrote an pretty pissed off letter to the Editor to the Baltimore City Paper for lack of coverage of dance in their annual Best of Baltimore rankings, which carry a strong impact in a small arts community. Baynard Woods, the Editor of the CP, replied to me personally, and made solid steps towards more dance coverage in the months that followed, despite the small paper was bought by a larger conglomerate and half the staff getting fired (#interns). This included Baynard's review of Effervescent's main work at the time, Butterknife.
1) WHAT ARE THE RULES OR THE CULTURE OF THE PERFORMANCE SPACE YOU’RE IN?
For example, what are the rules of a sidewalk?
Walk straight. Skateboarding & rollerblading maybe allowed? Depending, the rule about
eye contact change, as do the pace of your stride and proximity to other pedestrians.
What are the rules here? How do you know? What kind of power did the dance-maker(s)
have in designing and implementing those rules?
2) WHAT CHOICES HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE PERFORMANCE SPACE?
Someone chose, was forced to, or allowed, to put X, Y, and Z on stage.
Does the set on stage vaguely or clearly remind you of something: in life, in dreams, or in
fantasy? Are things you see on stage continuous or juxtaposed?
3) WHAT DO YOU NOTICE IN THE CHOREOGRAPHY, THE COMPOSITION, AND THE DANCERS?
Volume: What size are the movements? Is it subtle or exaggerated? If there was a
volume knob, how high would it be?
Tone: What is the tone of the movement? If the dancer was speaking, what tone of voice
would she be using? Is it formal or colloquial? Full of slang? Do the performers on stage
speak to each other, or the audience, in the same tone?
Articulation: How precisely are different movements articulated? Is it slurred or
precise? Is there an accent?
Visual Rhythm: Where are the bodies on the stage relative to each other? What kind of
landscapes do you see? What visual patterns do you see?
Physical Rhythm: If the movements were sounds or words, how long are the pauses,
rests, or negative spaces between movements? How does the physical rhythm relate to
the score, the silence, or the music?
Gravity: How do the dancer’s relate to gravity? Are there other invisible forces in the
room? What directions of forces do you see? Direct? Indirect? Soft? Strong?
Actions: Ask a toddler to describe a dance, and they will rattle off un-self-conscious
verbs: falling, swimming, flying, swirling, striking, sliding, slicing, touching, running, etc.
Have you seen this movement before? Felt it before? You may not know what certain
signs or shape ‘mean’ (and likely, they have no literal meaning), but your body knows
what different kind of actions feel like, to do yourself, or to have done for you.
4) WHAT’S DIFFERENT IN THE ROOM NOW FROM WHEN YOU ENTERED?
What’s different in you? In
others? The dancers? What changes or shifts do you sense, in your bones, flesh, and skin?
Thanks. Hope that helps. Enjoy the show.