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Yejin Hwang

Performance Viewing and Response

Having been my first dance concert, I learned that some choreographers participate in

their choreography, others do not, and some choreographers create the choreography and are

inspired by their dancers. The fusion of who participates and the blurring of the lines between

what is the background and what is the foreground was further seen through the piece A Way Out

as it was created and performed by the choreographer, the dancers became the choir, and the

choir again became the dancers.

Choreographed by Sarah Seder in collaboration with the dancers, A Way Out was the first

piece that was performed at the MFA Thesis Dance Concert Ternate.

The beginning of the work started with a dancer repetitively twirling. The lack of

background music, and the sounds of the feet squeaking in time with the turn felt isolating. The

slow emergence of other dancers that surrounded and watched her made it seem even more

lonely. This spatial structure of the dancers reminded me of a top spinning and bouncing off the

constraints of a box or dish.

As the piece progressed, I could see more and more connections to the title, A Way Out.

The costumes gave off a tribal vibe as it used tan and off-white colors. There were different

artistic formations of a circle, and the art piece at the side of the stage in which wooden sticks

lean into one another towards the center seemed to be an object representing the movements of

the dancers in creating closure within a space (or in other words, a cage). There seemed to be not

only an external boundary, but an internal conflict represented in the dance. There was moment

in the piece when the movements of one of the dancers seemed to be out of their control. There
seemed to be communication through the eyes of the dancers that signaled help or expressed

vulnerability. There was a response by the other two main dancers that approached the one that

lost control, imitated the movements and joined her in her movements. These types of

interactions allowed me to experience dance as a form of communication. An action and a

response that is not limited to the movements of the body, but also facial expressions and spatial

placements.

Speaking of interactions, the relationships between the dancers seemed equally important

to the dance itself. Towards the beginning of the piece, there was a shift from an empty circle to

a crowded mob of people. At the moment in which people from the crowd passed the twirler,

each person made intense eye contact while keeping a distinct distance. While the distance from

the twirler was greater when they were in an empty circular formation, the eye contact and glare

made them seem more distant even though they were physically closer as they were passing the

twirler. To me, it was as great of an impact emotionally as coordinating movements with

physical touch.

Movement qualities were also impressionable. The way I interpreted it, movement

quality could change based on the usage of time in spacing out movements. Shifting the speed

and the weight could create either a natural flowy movement or a disconnected rapid jerk.

Movement qualities also seemed to correlate to the music or lack of. While there was a certain

discomfort in the lack of music, the sounds of the dancers such as the patter and squeaking of

feet, and the sounds of heavy breathing added to the atmosphere of the piece. The breathing was

one with the movement (breathing in and out at specific junctures between and during the

movements) added another layer of color to the piece. In fact, I felt that the silence and the sound

of the body created a solitary, possibly lonesome, and desperate mood to the piece.
In addition to the sound, the lighting created a fluidity in the atmosphere as it connected

the mood of the piece to the visual colors. I realized that in creating a piece, and in describing an

emotion or expression, the different factors lighting, movement, design, and sound all

contributed to the experience of the audience as they all impact one or more of the senses, sight,

sound, and indirect touch.

Overall, I was fascinated at the number of interactions that a piece incorporates, whether

it is between the dancers, or with the set and music. There was a form of communication within

the piece and to the audience. Thinking through the details of how different aspects of a piece

can impact an audience, I hope to be able to notice more and have a fuller experience when

attending the FCDD Faculty Concert.