Choreography: More than the moves

When we set out to sample the moves from an excerpt video of “Seder,” a work by choreographer Ohad Naharin performed by the Batsheva Ensemble (the second company of the Batsheva Dance Company), I was interested in the strange concept of making one continuous dance from a series of excerpts. But what ended up becoming more interesting to us was that sampling the moves – without context or direction from the choreographer – is endlessly problematic.

For many people, the word “choreography” is understood as being just the moves in a dance. Yet in reality, it encompasses a theoretical ecosystem of things both ephemeral and defined: conceptual ideas, arrangement of bodies, relationship to space, interaction between dancers, and the attention to dynamics, energy, quality, immediacy, and intent, to name a few. Often wed to the choreography are considerations about the relationship between the movement and the music, lights, costumes, text, and other media.

So with our best efforts to exactly replicate the movements from the Batsheva video (which is impossible, by the way), without replicating any other aspect of the choreography, we have found the results to be far more flat than its already 2-dimensional source. We also weren’t able to teleport ourselves in and out of the frame to match the number of dancers in each video cut, taking us farther away from anything Batsheva.

With respect to the music, Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night” was chosen because at one point we talked about creating some kind of cyclical loop that connects several of our YouTube samples. And this particular song is the music for the ever-so-fabulous credit reel of the French film Beau Travail, in which the lead actor (Denis Lavant) is dancing in a club. We referenced this video as an example of impersonations in our research at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Chorography. Ironically, the video was initially given a copyright violation on YouTube for usage of the song (not the moves!), so we had to use the audio from the camera, which is why it is so quiet.

The next time we revisit this Batsheva sample, it might be to appropriate the movement into a derivative composition, or to mash it up with Sara Carlson’s ever popular “Fly to Paradise” (but probably not) …or maybe just wear a different shirt.

—Julia Rhoads, Artistic Director

3 Responses to “Choreography: More than the moves”

  1. Rebecca Pappas Says:

    I am so excited about the steal this dance project! I’ve been thinking along similar lines for quite a while and was really excited to run into this on the web. I have been thinking a lot about archiving and collecting dances as well as intellectual property. I am a friend of Krenly’s from UCLA. Excited to talk more!

  2. hermione costumes Says:

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