Category Archives: Dance

on dance and movement art

Dancing Matt and a need to be inspired.

I have been wanting to post about “Where the Hell is Matt” for over a year at this point. The only real reason I haven’t is due mostly to my busy schedule as a ┬áteacher, but with that life slipping behind me I find myself with nothing but time to catch up on the elements of life I missed out on. One in particular is responding to his most recent video from 2012 that inspired myself and my kids to find our own way to change the world. There isn’t much to his videos and there are based on something rather simple, dancing around the world. But his simple concept of visiting different cities and dancing with local populations has inspired me and continues to inspire me. The videos are cute, funny and leave an audience smiling if not laughing. But no jokes are told or script developed. For what makes us enjoy his videos is the happiness and togetherness they portray. We see the differences of our world so wonderfully displayed next to each other as to forget the pain those differences have caused. We are given a reason to smile from his video.

In my own explorations as to what is the responsibility of artists I have danced with the idea that as artists we have responsibilities to the population. As a community we always want to strive to be better and those who strive for our attention should naturally lead us down that path. I’ve gone so far as to criticize the remarkably enjoyable music of Jimmy Buffet for doing nothing more than giving us a reason to drink and screw. Yet I was mistaken then and can realize it now. The role of art is and always has been to engage us. To produce in us a reaction transient and pleasurable, his music does that.

I’m not about to suggest that Matt’s videos are as timeless and enjoyable as Jimmy Buffet but I do want to argue that there is a significance to the smile they produce in us. We are a social species by nature, it has had great influence on our evolution, being able to communicate and share and desiring to as well. We are a better, smarter species for our social desires and yet recently I feel we have lost some of that. Many smarter and more informed individuals have blasted our generation and the internet for the decrease in social experiences and though I lean towards their camp I’m not necessarily sure they are right. Have we truly replaced time together with time online? Furthermore is time online truly void of the same social celebrations produced in time together? The answers aren’t necessarily there just yet and maybe won’t be for a while. However what is there is that videos like this have a power to remind us what it means to be together. Those who participated in his videos enjoyed togetherness while those who enjoyed his videos witnessed it. But more than just witnessing it, my classroom felt it, discussed it, celebrated it, and used it to inspire ourselves.

I’ll leave it there for now but will return. I’d like to see more of us inspiring ourselves.

-Huysmans out.

Those unfamiliar with Matt’s dancing exploits can find information about him and his adventures here.


Dance: thoughts on form and presentation

In recent adventures of an artistic type I have seen many different forms of choreography in the various senior dance shows/ visiting dance shows that I have attended. In the past I have not been one to make many comments or observations on dance, it was an art I didn’t understand that well or appreciated very much. But that’s all changing now perhaps because I am looking at dance through a more artistic lens now (or perhaps because I know a choreographer who is changing my world.) But either way I am seeing it with new ideas in mind.

This brings me to the topic of this rather short post. Dance is a beautiful art form and when done right it has the potential to involve its environment. That ability is not unique to dance but I fear has been underutilized by it. Recently I attended a dance show where there was no set place for the audience and thus no set vantage point from which to watch the show. We sort of had to maneuver our way throughout the house and see what we could. I will talk further about this particular production when I get some visual aids from its choreographer but for now let it stand that this got me thinking about the use of space in dance.

Space plays an important role. That may be obvious to everyone reading this but yet it is not taken as serious as this statement suggests. The choreographer of this particular show utilized all the space, entrance space, audience space, performance space, exit space, and even the bathroom space. It brought up that all too popular question of where the show ended and the audience began. After all some of the dancers needed the participation of the audience to perform.

This example with its full contact between addresser and addressee makes the question easy to understand. But the aspect of space and expand that notion to sound as well stays true for staged dance. The design of the stag , the use of the stage, the non use of the stage, the off stage space, the audience space, it all plays into the production. Today’s art is in a sense frameless.

Sound may seem even easier to understand, with it being the driving force behind many of the dance forms. But also the lack of sound, or the audience participation in the creation of sound. These play roles as well. Voice over work, dancer speech and silent dance are powerful tools a dance can employ that at times create an extremely uncomfortable feeling for the audience. That feeling though negatively described with the word “uncomfortable” is one of the true feelings of art.

We’ve posted earlier about the weakness of easy art and I think that same theory applies here. Art that offends us or just makes us uncomfortable is by that definition not easy and therefore more engaging. We are forced to come to terms with that which influences us.

That’s enough for now but there will be much more.