Dance Archive: capturing memory in time
investigation into time, dance, memory and archive
making a tool to remind me steps
being in the moment / holding onto memory / existential
My current work is a collaborative piece with Anna Lystad. It aims to archive the steps and capture the relationship between my dancing partner and I while we dance different ballroom and latin styles. A combination of graphical dance notations and film become reference points to remind us as dancers the steps to all ten dance styles: Cha Cha; English Waltz; Foxtrot; Jive; Paso doble; Quickstep; Rumba; Samba; Tango and Viennese Waltz.
more personal project: a tool / helpful for me
Memory plays a key role in learning new steps, but also to remember the ones we have already been taught. Since my MS diagnosis a few years ago, my memory has become weaker. After loosing something which is that personal, I put a lot more value to memory and how it works. I try to find other methods, such as the memory palace technique or viewing movement as geometric shapes from a birds-eye-view, to help my spatial memory in dance. Looking back at our filmed performances not only refreshes our memory, but also captures our steps and teamwork in time. We are aware that we will not dance together forever, so there is an existential aspect that also drives this archival process.
Our non-verbal communication and ‘goofy kids’ relationship between my partner and I should also be emphasised within the film. Our aim is not to pretend to look professional, but show our pure nature. To do so, the film itself should not force a story within the choreography, yet focus on the dance technique and editing skills. For every dance style, the ambience will change accordingly with the use of: music; lighting; surrounding and outfits. The film footage will be supported by graphical dance notation which was designed in my previous work ‘Rock Step - Triple Step - Triple Step’ which was part of the ‘Terta Gamma Circulaire #3’ for De Player.
Anna has been very interested in ‘Rock Step - Triple Step - Triple Step’. She helped during the testing period, hence understands the background, reach and its aim. Her film production, lighting and editing knowledge and skills would enhance the development of this project. She is interested in experimenting with editing movement with the restriction of music and rhythm. Our collaboration will also consist of finding a balance between story-telling and documentation.
previous practice 200/200
Both current and previous projects look at the aspect of flow and being lost in time while dancing. While ‘Rock Step - Triple Step - Triple Step’ was a live performance piece, [name] is a documented (filmed) collection of dances. The previous allowed the audience to interact with the dancers through commands directing their next steps - it was a hands-on practical experience. The interaction within the film is more emotionally-based - it can be ‘felt’ more through vision.
After creating my own choreology for ‘Rock Step - Triple Step - Triple Step’, I realised how challenging it is to combine all aspects that need to be communicated in dance notation: speed; rhythm; direction; purpose; emotion, to name a few. Similarly to labanotation created by Rudolf Laban in 1928 (Hutchinson, 2016), I would like to investigate more into communicating more of these factors through graphics to expand my own notation and use it for other ballroom dance styles.
My previous research looked mainly at the differences in perception of time. Event-time and clock-time (Levine, 1998) correlated with Bergsonian and Newtonian time … (re… / in order / chronologically) (Wiener, 1965). My current research expands the thought of time perception and looks into capturing time and memory.
relation to larger context /200
looking into memory, archive, time, dance notations
capturing memory while I still have it (while Sean is still here, while memory still here) fear of loosing memory
videos of what we were taught in Swing classes are very helpful
- short and simple: not overwhelmed by information
- archived: can always find them again when needed
research strands 250/200
Chapter 9: Memory Inc. in Opening Skinner’s Box (Slater, 2005) looks into the physical discovery of memory. In 1953 Dr. Scoville identified that memory has a specific location in the brain, in the hippocampus, not scattered around as thought before. Patient Henry Mollison was still able to brush his teeth after his hippocampus was removed, but wasn’t able to create new memories. Dr. Brenda Milner continued her research on Henry and was able to identify procedural, or unconscious memory. After another decade of research in the field of memory and neuroscience, what was previously seen as “learning theory” by Skinner and Pavlov was repackaged as “memory” by Kendel.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presented his research about flow psychology during a Ted Talk in 2004. He explained how our nervous system is incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second (Ted Talk, 2009). This would explain how new dancers cannot fall into flow when trying to think about the rhythm, tempo, direction and body movement. He constructed a list of factors that prove one has fallen into flow: focus; sense of ecstasy; knowing that the activity is doable; a sense of serenity; timelessness and intrinsic motivation. These factors may either create the structure the film, or be represented in another manner.
Chapter 8: Lost in the Mall in Opening Skinner’s Box (Slater, 2005) focuses on Elizabeth Loftus’s False Memory Experiment.
Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes is a personal experience of Barthes’s view on photography and memory. reflections on photography
Barthes, R. (2000). Camera Lucida. 1st ed. London: Vintage.
Hutchinson, A. (2016). Labanotation dance notation. [online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/labanotation [Accessed 6 Mar. 2017].
Levine, R. (1998). A geography of time. 1st ed. New York: Basic Books.
Slater, L. (2005). Opening Skinner's Box. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury, pp.182 - 223.
Ted Talk, (2009). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness. [video] Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017].
Wiener, N. (1965). Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Pr.