I’m Marc. I’m an MFA Choreographer in the Dance Department and this summer at the Studio I’m building a project called Dance For Screens.
As a choreographer, I (probably) spend an inordinate amount of time observing people and how they move through the world. I’m intrigued by gestures, patterns, and the ways in which bodies navigate their surroundings. And, since I spend most of my days on the university campus, I’m especially aware of how people navigate space while their heads are often tilted downward at the device in their hands. It’s quite wondrous, really, how easily many folks move about their surroundings, crossing streets and avoiding bumping into other bodies, all while never really looking straight ahead.
This is, of course, by no means a judgment. I’ll be the first to tell you that I do it all the time. Earbuds in, phone in hand, eyes behind aviator sunglasses — there’s a sort of anonymity these things afford me as I walk down the pavement.
So why is this important and how does it lead to the project I’m making this summer at the Studio? Don’t worry, I’ll get there.
In addition to being interested in human gesture as it relates to how bodies interact with space, I’m also intrigued by how human gesture navigates digital spaces: double-tap for a like, swipe up to learn more, swipe right to match, long press to share, etc. In a way, these are little choreographies that are imposed by the interface making the user both the performer and the audience member.
These little choreographies become more explicit in other ways. It was especially evident to me one night as I was editing some dance footage. I had choreographed a dance, captured it digitally, and, through the process of editing that dance on my computer screen, I made a brand new choreography. Suffice it to say (without getting too heady or making my brain hurt trying to map my exact thought process) I realized in that moment I could explicate and explore the experience of digitally choreographing a way that was analogous (daresay, digitally analogous???) to video editing.
So that brings me to Dance for Screens. It’s one part screendance (a dance specifically made to be experienced on a screen) and one part interactive installation. With this project, I’m attempting to elicit an experience wherein the user inhabits the roles of performer, audience and choreographer simultaneously. Five to ten cell phone screens each serve as a frame for a tiny screendance. The user interacting with the installation can move the screens around, rearranging the choreography and, in essence, create a brand new choreography simply by engaging with the screens physically.
Makes sense? Sounds cool? I hope so.
I wish I could say I’m further along than I am, but making Dance for Screens has been a little trickier than I anticipated. My time so far has been spent in the dance studio every day, experimenting with choreography and the camera. I’m still very much a novice when it comes to working with a camera so I’ve been learning as I go the various functions and features of ISO, shutter speed, white balance, etc.
Fortunately, I’ve managed to recruit some very talented dancers to dance the choreography and collaborate with me on the movement. I spent all weekend with them in Professor Daniel Fine’s studio to do the principal filming. My next big step will be organizing all the footage, choosing which shots worked best, and editing together five to ten initial drafts of the screendances.
Whew. Again. Wish me luck.
If you want to follow my progress (and process) up close, follow me on Instagram: @DadBodDance.