Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Michigan"...Erica Sobol

As human beings, one of the most desirable qualities we seek in others is authenticity. Nothing irks people more than the pretentiousness of a "fake" person. Interestingly, this same characteristic resonates within dance. When we see a choreographer who embraces vulnerable humanity, our breath is snatched away because we recognize the familiar...we see ourselves. Erica Sobol is what I a call a "mirror-ographer"...she creates by simply observing human beings in their natural form, and then reflects this reality back to us through the poetic filter of movement. The result is hypnotic and vicarious...because we are witnessing the moments of our own life, through Erica's eyes:

MUSICALITY: When a singer/songwriter composes music, much thought is given to the way in which the lyrics will unfold, bounce off each other, and play between. Syncopation then becomes an imperative tool for achieving this interplay. When it is most successful, it can give a choreographer a plethora of information, rhythmically, visually, and thematically. Erica understands this completely and finds numerous ways to have dialogue with these internal rhythms of the song. From 1:14-1:19 you see her painting a visual thread for the words "I wonder was it gone, now I know." However, what really makes Erica a unique voice, is that she "hears" the movement in stereo, not only digging into the lyrics, but simultaneously animating the musicianship as well. The best example of this is at 1:22, when you actual "see" what the lone pluck of a guitar string "looks" like within the dancer's body.

DANCER SYNC: Revisiting the idea of authenticity of dance, we have to examine the role of "technique" and "tricks." If someone were to watch this piece and judge it solely on the number of pirouettes or grande jetes, they would probably conclude that the combination was not particularly "hard." And yet, I would actually argue, that this combination is an example of exceptionally difficult and advanced choreography, artistically AND technically. To be able to control the acceleration and deceleration of the tempo, to gracefully bring the vocal nuances to life, and "hide" the technique into the fabric of the statement...take incredible maturity and insight. Because Erica roots her movement in the common planes of movement (parallel sagittal, frontal, and transverse), the dancer will feel at home and familiar in the sequence.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: I adore the moments of humanity that pepper this excerpt. As a viewer, we always want to empathize and relate with the dance we are watching. When the dancer walks forward at 1:49 ("keep your hands where I can see them"), we instantly recognize this moment of defiance, rebellion, or anger. And yet, since the choreography does not make it presentational (acting and mugging for the camera) we realize the genuine nature of what we are seeing, and it hits us right in our sense memory.

KUDOS to Erica for allowing us the luxury of viewing our own frailties and the permission to accept our humanity.

No comments:

Post a Comment