Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Daydream"...Joshua Pelatzky

I have spent the summer globetrotting to and fro. However, I am returning to my regular blogging schedule and am excited to bring you the work of Joshua Pelatzky. This piece touched me in a number of ways, primarily since I have a strong, personal connection to Italy and the dance community there. I wanted to highlight the work that Joshua is doing there and they manner in which Italian heritage and sensibility influenced this piece.

MUSICALITY: Taking inspiration from Chopin's Nocturne #2, I found Joshua's interpretation fascinating and nuanced. As Wiki explains, "This popular nocturne is in rounded binary form (A, A, B, A, B, A) with coda, C. The A and B sections become increasingly ornamented with each recurrence. The penultimate bar utilizes considerable rhythmic freedom, indicated by the instruction, senza tempo (without tempo). Nocturne in E-flat major opens with a legato melody, mostly played piano, containing graceful upward leaps which becomes increasingly wide as the line unfolds. This melody is heard again three times during the piece. With each repetition, it is varied by ever more elaborate decorative tones and trills. The nocturne also includes a subordinate melody, which is played with rubato." With the key feature here being the element of "senza tempo," how does a choreographer imbue a sense of rhythm and musicality, when the music is intentionally languid and wandering? In analyzing the movement, it becomes clear that the dancers are relying heavily on synchronized breathing to communicate in a cohesive way. Observe the extended partnering sequence from (1:25-1:45) and pay attention to the way the dancers "feel and breathe" their way through the movement, rather than "hit their marks." This is a very advanced skill within the dancers' bag of tricks; to be able to dance in a fully present, fully tactile, fully sensory manner.

DANCER SYNC: I greatly appreciate the movement choices that Joshua has included in his exploration of the space. Rather than filling the simple landscape with overly expressive gestures or awkward technicality, he wisely allows the movements to grow out of a place of simplicity and genuine experience. Noticing that the physical space features multiple levels, curved arches, and a variety of surfaces (wood, stone, earth), he created choreography that blends the human body with these elements in a harmonious union. I love the moments when the female dancer "walks" along the diverse perimeters (0:44-0:46) and (3:13-3:17)...nothing technically tricky, but simple and completely effective.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: One of the challenges for choreographers working in an online video format, is the inability to translate sensory information via digital mediums. When you watch a live performance in a theater, the audience can see, feel, hear, smell, taste the effort and artistry of the dancers. But when you watch a dance online, some aspect of the experience is inevitably lost. However, every once in awhile, a choreographer like Joshua, will choose images, movements and sequences that have the capacity to wake up and engage our collective sense memories. When I watch this video, I am immediately transported to that palazzo, I can feel the breeze and smell the dust. As a dancer, I can imagine the cool touch of the stones on the soles of bare feet, and I can taste the salty sweat of dancing al fresco.

KUDOS to Joshua for giving us the opportunity to travel to Italy and vicariously experience a private moment with a woman and her dance. Click here to learn more about Joshua's background.