New Video!


I just posted a new video!

It’s a short excerpt of my master’s thesis research topic. Below is the first couple of paragraphs of my paper:

As a constantly evolving hybrid of scholar and dance maker, I am often haunted by the intersection of creating and selling dance. I imagine a fantastical purity in the art work that can remain uninfluenced by the market. The dance that is made regardless of audience size, ticket sales, or grant applications can remain closer to the choreographer’s artistic intent. Yet, in actuality, the priority of moneymaking is continually rubbing up against the priority of art-making. In the dance world, where the choreographer is often an “employee” of a larger company, this challenge is amplified exponentially, as corporate structures can not help but complicate intent and blur the delineations between important artistic decisions and important business decisions.*

Since the beginning of the 20th century, dance has been negotiating this respective threat and promise of institutionalization.1 Despite its inherent opposition to many early modern dance intentions (those of working against codification and regulation) institutionalization has offered a more financially stable way to create techniques, experiment with new choreographic ideas, and produce work with a ready-made group of dancers and often a dedicated studio and theater space. But, at what cost? The legalities and financial obligations of a large corporation intersect precariously with questions of artistic integrity and choreographic autonomy. In order to interrogate this intersection of art and commerce, historically and theoretically, I am looking at the repeated choreographies of one, single work, Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, or Rite of Spring. In looking at this piece, I hope to establish a “constant” in my variable-ridden experimentation. This work – with its complicated and studied past – has inevitably influenced much of the current dance world, both in relation to bank accounts and stages. My question is, in short, how does commerce affect art? Can a choreography become a commodity without sacrificing a great deal of itself and its intent? Are artistic intent and financial obligation mutually exclusive? And, how are these issues manifest in the over 200 known productions of the Rite of Spring?*

The video marks the beginning of my embodied research.
“Rite of Spring, sketch”:

Wax Works works-in-progress @Triskelion Arts (Brooklyn, NY)
Choreography: Lizzie Leopold
Music: Le Sacre du Printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Dancers: Xan Burley & Alex Springer

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11.08.10 Rehearsal

Monday evening rehearsal in short by Melissa Bloch:

In previous blogs Lizzie wrote about the challenge of conveying the idea of timelessness through dance, which is an inherently time sensitive art form. In other words, as soon as we finish a movement, it’s gone. The moment has passed. So using dance to demonstrate timelessness, which is epitomized in the time capsule The Golden Record, is a tough task. Lizzie has come up with several very creative ways of capturing that idea. (I’m not going to tell you EVERYTHING, so you’ll have to see the show to see what I’m talking about.) I will tell you that we’ve been working on a duet, which illustrates the whole “timelessness” concept, and the duet that Lizzie has been choreographing for the last few rehearsals is almost finished.
On Monday we danced the duet to several different tracks from the Golden Record. The three pieces we used were a Mexican mariachi piece called El Cascabel by Lorenzo Barcelata and the Mari, Dark was the Night by Blind Willie Johnson, and The Well-Tempered Cavalier by Bach. It was fascinating to see how by simply changing the music the duet evolved in disparate ways. The mariachi music had Natalia dancing playfully, and occasionally with her “sexy dancer face.” The classical piece created a more subdued atmosphere and the dancing reflected that. The dancer’s movement was infused by the different music styles, making the choreography multi-flavored. Very cool.

So after that, we began to work on the track that is a recording of UN Members greetings to the extraterrestrial recipients of the Gold Record. I am continually struck with what an odd concept this is. The best statement by far was from the UN representative of some West African country (they didn’t say which one) and the man says, in English, “As you probably know, my country is situated on the western coast of Africa.” First of all, let’s assume that the ET knows English and can understand you (already a ridiculous assumption), do you really think he knows that our planet exists, or what our planet looks like, or that our planet is divided into countries, and where your country is and its name and that you are the UN representative of that country?!?!? Strange, eh? Anyways, back to what we did in rehearsal. Each statement has such a distinct sound and intonation. Of course, there was a motley collection of languages and accents, but beyond that, the speakers has such distinct voices. Their voices, accents, intonations and attitudes help to construct a very vivid character in your mind and Lizzie came up with some awesome and sometimes ridiculous phrases to represent and elaborate upon those characters. Once again, I’m not going to give it all away, but you will probably laugh out loud. Especially when the background whale sounds start to kick in.


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