Monday, May 13, 2002

Trying to go and see one dance performance a week, to keep up on what’s happening in the contemporary dance scene in London, who gets funded for what, trends in choreography etc. Last week I visited the Clore Studio Upstairs at the Royal Opera House to see Cathy Seago & Dancers and Maresa von Stockert & Tilted Co. Firstly, I must say what a fantastic venue! Huge stage, bleacher style seats, and an air of grandeur. Secondly, if you get the chance go see Maresa von Stockert & Tilted Co.’s work! Although narrative based, it is very engaging and clever. The four male dancers in her current work Like Nobody’s Business spun round on office chairs, did amazing lifts between each other and made you laugh with deadpan humour and precision of repeative movements. This week I plan to see Lisa Torun @ The Place.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

More thoughts on facial expression:

I’ve been walking to work since the New Year and making it a habit to look at people’s faces. My route is straight through the heart of the City of London. On a good day I’m not wearing a suit, I’ve got Jimmy Buffet drowning out the traffic and I can observe various facial expressions for about 45 minutes.

“In conversation, in non-verbal exchange
we use our faces to convey our feelings
through muscular changes
in eye, brow, mouth, cheek, nostril, forehead, tongue.
Research tells us
That the eyebrow flash is a universal sign of recognition,
That symmetric and asymmetric frowns tell different stories,
Pouting, grinning, smirking, gnashing teeth,
Mouth corners up and down, with and without a tilt of the head
All speak, in a context.
Mouths can speak volumes, non-verbally.”
(Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Looking at Dances. 1998.)

Maybe just projection, but I’ve started to believe I can glimpse people’s thoughts from their faces along my daily journey to the office and I’ve really started to make efforts to relax my own face. Worry lines across the forehead or lines from squinting...are they just habit or thoughts drawn on the face?

And then I look at facial expression in dance—how do you make it spontaneous and real? How do you make your audience believe that what they are seeing on dancers faces is not choreographed or superficial? How do you let them glimpse into the momentary thoughts of the dancers? And furthermore, how do you re-train your dancers to give choreographed movement enough personal content that facial expression occurs naturally, without representation?