Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"I Wanna Dance With Somebody"...Marko Panzic

Often, the death of a great artist causes people to reexamine their body of work, culling new details that may have been overlooked the first time around. For the choreographer, going back to a piece of music that was an important part of their personal history can be an opportunity to breath new life into old song. Marko Panzic, a talented Australian choreographer and producer, recently explored this classic track by Whitney Houston. Interestingly, her music still resonates deeply with today's dancers...and probably always will:

MUSICALITY: Marko has an exceptionally gifted ear when it comes to the vocal nuances and rhythms of Whitney's voice. Notice how he interprets the phrase "when the night falls, loneliness calls" at 0.40-0.46. This is a great example of the movement creating visual synergy with the lyrics. Whitney bites into the word "when" and Marko responds with a definitively bold forward step. On the word "falls," Whitney's voice lilts into a slight decrescendo and Marko augments this with a deep grande plie(deep knee bend). Similarly, the shoulder isolations perfectly mimic the syncopation in Whitney's delivery of the word "loneliness." This kind of interplay between movement and music is what creates a seamlessly integrated experience.

DANCER SYNC: When you write with a physical pencil and paper, you have the option of individual block letters, or cursive strokes that connect from one to the next. Working dancers appreciate choreographers who can mimic this uninterrupted flow of information. Marko's gift lies in finding pathways that move along the body in a perfectly logical natural way. Watch at 0:35-0:39 and 0:59-1:01 and you will see two sequences of movement that demonstrate this smooth, fluid transition from one picture to the next. However, it should also be noted that, at times it is important to punctuate the flow of movement with "hits" that act as an exclamation point or period at the end of your sentence. The side snap at 0:27 is one such moment. When a choreographer like Marko, is mindful about creating these well-made phrases, with fluid transitions, as well as punctuated stops...the dancers rejoice.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: As I mentioned before, it is important for contemporary dancers and choreographers to continually revisit the classic work of artists who have come before. Innovation lies on top the progress and experiments that preceded us. By watching Marko's homage to Whitney's artistry, you can see that his respect for her talent is palpable. And yet, Marko's work does not feel like a rehash or recycling of "bad 80's choreo"...actually the opposite, it has a very fun, fresh relevance and playful energy. For the viewer, the intersection of something familiar with something brand new, is a smart way to connect with the past, yet introducing new information into the art form.

KUDOS to Marko for paying respect to one of the great voices of our time, by digging into the groove of the past and molding an entirely original artistic idea.

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