CriticalDance Forum

What is dance's "Weather Project"?
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Author:  edrouse [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 7:15 am ]
Post subject:  What is dance's "Weather Project"?

In Birringer's keynote he mentioned "The Weather Project" in which an artificial sun installation was placed in the Tate Modern. Apparently, people were completely drawn into the space and actually laid down on the floor. I had never heard of this project and was fascinated by the idea that something so clearly artificial could illicit such a human emotional response.

One of my main concerns about the emergence of new media in dance is that it often seems to take us further from the human element by abstraction instead of bringing us closer to understanding. Maybe through abstraction we come to understanding? I haven't seen anything that effective yet.

The Weather Project

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 7:25 am ]
Post subject: 

I had the good fortune to see this installation and it was magical. It also formed the setting for a Merce Cunningham Event: it was an unforgettable evening and I spent quite a bit of time on my back admiring the Sun object. to be honest, the dance was a little eclipsed and dwarfed by the space ubless you elbowed your way close to one of the three stages, but overall a rich experience. Here is our topic on the Merce Event at Tate Modern: ... ate+modern

Author:  Karl Cronin [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:06 am ]
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The images Johannes showed of the sun looked extraordinary.

I share your general concern about how technology can aid the artistic pursuit of exploring what it means to be human interacting with our world. Granted, this is not every artists objective, but I think it is fair to say that many people look to the theatre and art culture for experiences that speak to the human element.

What I got excited about yesterday was this idea that if technology can help theatrical environments bear a closer resemblance to the dynamic responsive world that we live in, the work has the potential to connect with us more deeply, as it will be more relevant to our experience. When we see a 2D set on stage and a dancer in front, we know there are elements of this environment that are phony. We detach a bit from the experience and use our ability of abstraction to gloss over artificial. If the set is 3D and responsive to the actions on the stage, we can see more direct connections between these real-time interactions and our own real-time interfacing in the world outside the theatre.

Author:  ksneds [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:06 am ]
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But, I go to dance performances to see dance and dancers, not fancy sets. I'm not expecting the sets to look totally realistic or in some cases realistic at all. If I want realism, I can go to the movies. The emotion, the connection in dance should come from the choreography, the dancers. I sense that far too often elaborate sets become a cover-up for inadequacies in choreography and dancing.

In ballet, for instance, the most realistic, compelling scenes I've ever witnessed are in the Royal Danish Ballet's production of "Napoli", and it has nothing to do with sets. The sets are quite minimal, but it is the dancers that create an immensely vibrant and believe seaside scene - even if the "fish" do bounce if dropped! Many of Balanchine's most powerful ballets are danced on bare stages with simple lighting and leotards for costumes.

I would worry that people get too caught up in technology and being realistic, when the heart of any piece is in the dancers and the movement. Technology can be great when it assists companies that would otherwise not be able to afford functional sets - projections have been a lifesaver in places where finances or stage confines make elaborate sets impossible - but when it takes away from the dance, we lose and the dancers lose. Sets and technology should add to the dance, but once they take center stage, the dance loses out.

Author:  Karl Cronin [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:51 am ]
Post subject: 

Good points.

Yesterday somebody said that using technology to extend the possibilities of the body is similar to our cultural traditions of adornment. There is a person, the person puts on clothes and jewelry, and then we have something new to interact with (this new gestalt of person and adornment). I agree that it becomes more difficult to see the person when you add more and more layers of adornment, but it is interesting that humans are drawn to enhancing, distorting, and masking how their natural selves are perceived. I think some artists are interested in looking at how and why cultures do this.

By choosing to place the dance in the theatre, with (or without) lighting and sets, is a clear choice to put the work in a very particular frame. Is a frame an adornment? The theatre itself is loaded with history, codes of appropriate behavior, and an array of visual information. Those are certainly all things that come into play when we are watching the work.

Author:  edrouse [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 1:49 pm ]
Post subject:  self-unfinished

interesting that you mention adornment. I just saw Xavier Le Roy's self-unfinished and what I loved so much was that he stripped down and rebuilt his adornment back to the starting point of street clothes.

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