Analysis has been an eye-opening course. As I have danced for the majority of my lifetime, it is hard to see past the eight-counts and specific movement choices which I am used to. My knowledge of dynamics and style were never analyzed or identified, yet now, in this course, I am learning the “backstage secrets” to the way we talk about dance. Concepts such as Effort and Motif Scales have led me to expand my perspective on dance and movement. Furthermore, these concepts have led me to make interesting choices in both my Analysis studies and additional work inside and outside of the Department.
The two concepts which interest me the most in our coursework are Effort and Motif Scales. Speaking first on Effort, my mind was blown by the fact that our movement can be so specifically defined. Prior to learning the Effort Scale, I knew what “strong” and “direct” movement felt like, but I had never referred to it using this specific terminology. Now, on the other hand, I find myself making choices based on the terminology alone – such as using “light” or “sustained” as words to inspire movement in the choreographic process. My interest in Motif Scale is similar, being that my perspective was immediately challenged by the fact that these scales are conceptual, open for interpretation. This confused me; I was not sure how this would be useful in the choreographic process. However, now I see these scales as an opportunity to develop new movement vocabulary given the skeleton that is read off of the paper. I would like to apply these concepts to my new choreographic endeavors, and I feel that I have been doing so already with the Effort Scale. However, I want to start to create Motif Scales for my composition studies. I feel that doing so will allow for me to better replicate material in the future, as well as helping me to analyze my own stylistic choices. As I hope to make Composition one of my focuses, I think that applying these two concepts – among the many we learn in Analysis – will be especially beneficial.
In addition to applying these concepts to Composition, as I mentioned above, I would especially like to apply these concepts to my existing position as a dance teacher, as well as to my interest in dance as a medium for emotional wellness. During the summer, I spend my time teaching classes at local studios, choreographing for studios, and traveling around teaching summer dance camps. Furthermore, I have extended this position as a dance teacher into my life this year by accepting a position as a Hip Hop Instructor at a studio in Dublin. As a teacher, I am always looking for new ways to communicate with students, knowing that each individual learns differently. In applying these concepts, especially that of Effort, I think that I would be able to express my stylistic choices in ways that would be easily understood. Furthermore, I believe that each of the Effort qualities can be associated with emotional and human expression, which could be used in dance therapy for emotional purposes. When learning these qualities, we created a list of synonyms which they could be associated with, many of which were common ways that we think, act, and/or feel. In teaching others how to embody these specific qualities, perhaps it would make it easier to target specific emotions during therapeutic sessions. Lastly, I think that Motif Scores could be used as a method of planning both dance classes and therapy sessions, alike.
This being said, the application of these concepts would be especially helpful in each of these fields. In establishing clear terminology in a studio setting, it would make my combinations easily transferrable from my brain, to the students’ movements. In a sense, using these terms would develop a specific classroom dialect, while also educating the students in the process. There would never be a question of the intention behind a movement because it would be specified by the way that I describe and teach the movement, rather than my current use of a variety of adjectives and explanations. The use of Effort qualities, then, is similar to my application to dance wellness, as I think that specifying the way that specific qualities feel in a patient’s body could lead to a clearer understanding of one’s emotional state for both the patient and the doctor. This understanding could then be used to recreate the way that certain emotions feel so that patients can learn to better cope with situations that stress them. Motif Scales, then, could benefit myself as a teacher, and potential dance therapist, as a method to create lesson/session plans. Motif Scales allow for interpretation, and developing a Motif Scale for a combination or exercise could push me to better understand my own plan due to the need to interpret it for myself. Furthermore, perhaps I could teach my students and/or patients to read these scales, with the intention of them learning to interpret them for themselves and make new choices/discoveries.
Looking back on the beginning of the semester, I suppose that I never thought I would be able to identify ways that our Analysis concepts could be utilized outside of simply discussing and describing movement. However, I am now realizing that the epiphanies that I have experienced in this course are possible outside of the studio setting. My new perspective on movement can be used to both create and educate others, inspiring new perspectives and experiences in them as well. I never imagined that this course would be as eye-opening as it has been, and I am excited to apply these concepts the ways that I have explained above.