Monday, October 4, 2010

The Strive For Perfection

See for yourself:

Philadanco is a dance company that I am very interested in as an artist. I have seen them perform live in the past and they were absolutely phenomenal. I would love to audition for this company sometime after I graduate from college. This video that I found shows a dance (between 3 minutes and 22 seconds and 6 minutes and 45 seconds) performed by 6 women of the company and it is a contemporary modern piece. It is titled "From Dawn Till Dusk" and it is choreographed by Christopher Huggins. As the dance begins, I feel like the dancers are struggling with a self esteem and confidence issue. Maybe someone in their lives has insulted them or brought them down somehow, or maybe for some of them it is a self-inflicted battle over how to look and how to act. This is a large problem in today’s society because there is such a strong pressure to be perfect and look like the models and celebrities you see in the media. Everywhere you look, you are seeing images of beautiful people supposedly living the life that you yourself should want to live. This includes stick-thin models in magazines, gorgeous celebrities in movies and on television, and millionaires who seem to have the ultimate lifestyle. As the dance evolves, the women find love and support through one another and they seem to make it through this tough time in their lives together. When I watch this piece, I sense acceptance within this group and I can imagine them all being close friends who see past the exterior appearance of a person. I can completely relate to this because as a typical American girl who read plenty of beauty magazines, I always longed to be like what I read about or what I saw in the pictures. This problem has lessened since I stopped reading magazines all together.

The lights come up and the dancers are all lying with their arms crossed in a straight, horizontal line facing the audience. One by one, they roll over so they are kneeling, but they keep their heads ducked down towards the floor for a moment like they are ashamed or scared of something. In unison, they rub the floor and slowly roll up through every vertebra of the spine, finally making eye contact with the audience. They then swipe their hands in front of their face and hide under their arms, once again showing insecurity and fear. They bring both arms over their head in a curved shape, protecting their faces. When they bring their arms back down, they do it with quick force and then suddenly bring their hands in front of their faces once more. Even though the speed of this movement in quick, they do it with such caution and grace. At different times, the dancers move their hands slightly, which really accentuates the face and seems to represent beauty. This may be ironic in the beginning because the dancers do not seem to recognize their own beauty at first. They all wave their hand delicately in front of them as if they are waving to someone in the distance. They end the phrase by rolling their heads around to one side and around to the back. This looks to me as if they are figuring out who they really are as people. These movements happen from 3 minutes and 22 seconds till 3 minutes and 50 seconds, which is the very start of the piece. All of these gestures accentuate the face and outer beauty. The shame and fear I get from the movement shows that these dancers are not satisfied with either the way that they look or the way that they are as people. This is a common feeling among people in our culture, especially young women who are pressured by society.

As the dance goes on, acceptance is found from others and within the individual dancers themselves. It is a journey to find true peace and inner happiness, a journey that I seem to be on myself. This dance not only seems to be about insecurity and beauty, but I also see the value of true friendship. There is a section starting at 4 minutes and 30 seconds and ending at 4 minutes and 48 seconds where two of the dancers perform a duet together. This reminds me of best friends because as the rest of the dancers exit stage left, they begin dancing together while holding hands. They hop and sway side to side, traveling horizontally to the right like they are little kids again playing together on the playground. This movement makes me feel like the dancers are happy and secure with each other and with themselves. This is a big change from what I saw in the beginning of the piece. When they let go of hands, they turn around each other and spin freely. Then, they move in a circle around themselves pointing their feet towards the ground and bending and extending one leg. This step adds to the playful and carefree feel that the duet started out with. The duet ends with the dancers reaching their legs up high in a light and airy kick to the front, then to the back. The dance moves on to have two more dancers join them and they continue with the partner work and supporting each other to help keep everyone’s’ spirits up. The movement in this section is quite beautiful just like it was in the beginning of the dance, but this time you can tell that the dancers can see the beauty for themselves.