Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Stimela"...Nico O'Connor

Recently I have been discussing the connection between principles of architecture and the dancer's body. In many ways, the design elements that apply to buildings and bridges have practical parallels for dance. As strange as it may seem, this clip from LA choreographer, Nico O'Connor, demonstrates some of these concepts beautifully.

MUSICALITY: The vocals used for this combination have an interesting geometry that flirts with syncopation, yet is grounded in an almost mechanical tick-tock riff that can be clearly identified in the opening bars. Although this underlying straight, square, marimba groove continues under the melody the entire time, Nico has different ideas and interpretation of where he wants the accents to hit. If you watch the sequence from (0:25-0:31) you can see an example of deep syncopation, working around a "short-long" rhythmic pattern where a staccato gesture is immediately followed by a brief adagio moment. This section is suddenly broken by a return to the square rhythm, hitting 1-2-3-4-hold, on straight beats. Its fascinating to watch the interplay between these two interpretations and creates a textured musicality that draws the viewer in completely.

DANCER SYNC: Good choreographers have the ability to find a logical progression in their phrases. Going back to the architecture analogy, when you build a physical structure, the construction must be executed in a logical progression. It makes no sense to jump around from step A to step D and then back to step B. In the same way, if you watch how Nico builds his phrases, each one leads the dancer logically to the next moment. Look at (0:36-0:41) and you will see how a hip touch rises to a chest touch, which leads to a higher level above the head. For dancers, this kind of logic makes the combination especially satisfying to move through.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: I really like the way that Nico's choreography supports the dancer and pays respect to the musical source material. However, the average audience member might not be able to articulate what it is about Nico's work that captures their attention, but they know that they are watching intently. The choreography is not overly lyrical or indicative, and yet it is such a well-crafted phrase that demonstrates clean architecture and deceptively complex rhythmic patterns.

KUDOS to Nico for giving the dancers a strong blueprint for constructing a beautiful, artistic structure.

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