Friday, November 30, 2012

Isadora and jooking

I went to Duncan class excited, I
couldn’t wait to learn how to dance like floating fairies or hell bent furies.

It looked simple.
Still how can you make that open legged gallop light as Botticelli’s “Primavera” and strong enough to travel across the stage?  I found myself inside a position and let it go from me. I looked in the mirror and wondered was that me? maybe not, maybe so. I chose not to know. Dancing the Narcissus for me was about feeling and not feeling: knowing your body hard and fast, and then yielding to a moment of flight.

It surprised me how it felt remembered and fresh, alive but ancient. The movement Isadora found and brought to us wasn’t just hers alone. It came from her body, but its source was beyond her. In her book, The Art of the Dance she said she wanted “ bring to life again the ancient ideal, not to copy it, but to breathe its’ life, to recreate it in one’s self with personal inspiration, to start from its beauty, and then go toward the future dance.”
Isadora Duncan, The Art of the Dance p. 96

That’s what makes it beautiful in a way that is so simple it takes you by surprise as you think about again later. When you dance it seems simple and then something happens, a trigger goes off and you feel that you are inside a much larger place. Lois would say Isadora opened up a window. It’s still open, we continue to dance in and out of it.

Alistair Maculay, the dance critic of the NYT, wrote an article a few weeks ago describing how when he saw Lil Buck jooking he remembered a line of Isadora “I have seen America dancing.He felt his notions of beauty art and society were extended when he saw these young LA dancers in rehearsal.

I thought it would be interesting to place clips of these two artists side by side. Examine their innovations, the dance they embody.

The clip of Isadora is the only extant verifiable moving film. It is very short so you have to watch it many times. But look at the utter abandon, the pure lift of the solar plexus and the heart. She yields her body to a great force that runs easy and free through her body. Her dancing body was like a tuning instrument channeling a clear and powerful grace.

In the Lil Buck video I see his desire to embody a form to his own method. Look at the turns with the leg crooked but extended, his feet on a forced point that sides over the side of ankle. His dying swan takes power form the ground and lifts from there and gets almost airborne,  especially toward the end where he see saws and spins into the horizontal mid-plane.

As YoYo Ma plays the music’s sorrow and desire for freedom, watch how it ripples though Lil Buck’s body, elegant and fluid like breath coursing into all the necessary places. Like Isadora I see a body making a dance that is natural to itself and yet in giving over completely to the melding of style and emotion becomes more than that.

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