Heirlooms and Have-Nots

Choreographer: Vanessa Rea
Choreographic theme: Oppression
Title: heirlooms and have-nots
Music Composition: “Metamorphosis One” Philip Glass
Length of music: 3:27

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Intention of the dance

I wanted to utilize the ebb and flow of breath to convey a sense of despair and exhaustion to the audience. It was my intention to relay a feeling of isolation by separating the dancers at each point in the piece. By creating relentless motions on my dancers I feel the piece’s intent and regard is well translated.

Explain why you made that music choice.

The musical accompaniment that I chose works well with my theme because of its minimalist qualities. The music is intended to inspire the movement without overpowering the intention. It really personifies the feeling of a suppressed emotion and the resistance found in exhaustion. Glass’ composition is a musical accompaniment of the grand piano. The repetition in my piece mimics the piano’s chords. I wanted to play with the metallic sounds of the ivory keys and really utilize echoes as well as round, rebounding movements. The elongated phrases in the music were impossible to ignore, I therefore conveyed a sustained essence to my dancers. The music choice was overall a success. It lent itself to the choreography without distracting and gave my dancers a better understanding of the emotional intent.

Cast of Dancers: Dana Gugliotti, Jamie Lovell, Rosalinda Mair, Mariel Roy

Explain why you chose each dancer for your work. What quality are you demanding in your movement phrasing?

All of my dancers are based on their willingness to experiment and for their body types. Each girl is short in stature with dark features. I really wanted to play with a darker theme in order to achieve a different element in my choreography. The dancers are extremely powerful and are able to execute technical aspects and a sense of physical endurance throughout the dance. Every motion danced has intention. The struggle and tension is personified by uncontrolled leaps, weighted contact, releases in the body and an overall urgency about the movement. The throwing partner work symbolizes the will to overcome any obstacle. Each dancer tries to get ahead of one another but eventually all end up in the same daunting predicament. Back to where they started. No one reaches that light. No one crosses that line. No one prevails.  That is the feeling I wanted to evoke from each phrase.

Discuss the form and structure that you intend to explore in your work. How are you phrasing your movement?

Rondo, retrograde, repetition as well as theme and variation are the primary forms that I will be using. Each dancer will come back to phrase B in this composition and will have a variation on their specific movements. By accentuating breath and sense of circularity they will elevate the intention of the piece. Retrograde is so important to my  improvisation. It allows me to visualize my choreography differently by providing a new insight to movement.  Thinking in reverse may not be easy, but, it is quite effective to the dynamics as a whole. When repetition is done in a cannon there is an aspect of layering specific to it. Many of my phrases consist of these different elements and are an authentic representation of me as a choreographer.

Describe any thematic gestures that occur in the piece.

There is emphasis on a specific body part for each dancer. Articulating these small movements provide a central focus on the appendage while creating a greater understanding of exactly how they work. The deconstruction of these movements was intended to symbolize personal restraints in relation to oppression. Each girl holds a different story and articulates a different body part. The limbs are meant to be their triumphs and tribulations. By restricting them to that specific one alters their movement and is meant to be looked at as their own burden. They dance as individuals throughout and seek a way to find that hole in the fence or get through that last chemotherapy session. All are gasping for breath, stumbling with pain and looking without seeing anyone. The gestures are there to personify the weight of oppression.

How do your transitions occupy the stage?  Where do the entrances and exits occur in the dance?

Running was my main form of a transition in this piece. These transitions take up a large amount of space and cover every angle. As it begins the transitions are full of grounded energy as well as power. By the end of the piece the running becomes more stagnant as tripping, falling and stopping of the motions ensue. The entrances and exits are sporadic. They are at times unexpected to convey a feeling of urgency and valor.  The dance begins and ends with no entrances or exits because I enjoyed the placement of the dancers and how they were able to span the length of the stage.

Is there any part of the stage that dominates the movement?  Discuss why?

There is no apparent pattern of movement within the space. The dancers use all parts of it with the intention of getting the audience to actively watch the dance in it’s entirety. I liked the idea of exhausting the space by covering a significant amount in a small frame of time. It was also interesting to make the audience watch the piece as if their mind was running in circles or if they were tossing and turning from a sleepless night. I tried to accomplish this by constant movement and moments of sustained pauses. The anxious, unsettling motions can be felt from these facings.

Describe the Costuming of the choreography and explain why you chose it.

For this piece I chose slate colored short dresses for my dancers. I wanted the costuming to be as minimal as the music in order to let the dance speak freely. The color is important because it signifies dread and sense of isolation, similar to the mood of the piece. Dresses were my immediate thought for the dancers. All are short and with the shortness of the dresses the girls could move in a different way than another costume would not allow. It also accentuates their legs, by adding length to their lines.

How does the conclusion of your dance tie your composition together referring to the beginning, middle and the end?

The dancers end the piece the way they began it, only with one small alteration.  The trio of Jamie, Dana and Mariel are hovered over each other at the beginning while the ending showcases them in an open variation of the position. I did this to symbolize their initial thought of overcoming obstacles together by helping each other but by nearing the end they realize the imminency of their fates and decide to fend for themselves. The separation of all four dancers is an actual representation of struggle.  Rosalinda is distant at both times and can be concluded as the determining force in their separation. She made them realize the severity in the situation, seeking solace in the thought of freedom, and was a key factor in the deterioration of the group. The variation in formations at the end of the piece connect all of the thoughts of the piece and relay the commitment of intention. As a whole the composition found a way to come back to the beginning with a cyclical and slightly cynical motive.

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