Nature and Dance: The In-depth Approach
Further looking into the evolution and process of dance and how this has relevance to style and forms of art. Art can be perceived as a visual recording of dance, but a deeper microscopic view of dance is required to fully accurately record even one aspect of dance and its relation to nature.
In order to comprehend the science of dance and correlate this with nature, one needs to look deeper into the atomic structure or basic elements of dance from its inception to development through the ages. As with any function or operation, of which dance is one of the oldest, there is a process which is naturally formulated and recorded whether through memory, written or through artistic depiction. Dance is not born out of random steps or movements but is carefully manipulated and intricately developed based on the surroundings, experiences, lifestyles and cultures.
Dance offers opportunity for fantasy and interpretation which may be seen as random, without pattern or thought, however even these processes can be very precisely measured and recorded. Even the most nebulous and obscure movement has logic, beat, pattern and science that can be qualified through naming convention down to a single turn or gesture. In the animal kingdom, the mating rituals are innate but follow precise patterns and are done with instruction but driven by emotion and natural forces.
Ranging from heated emotional through to cold calculative throngs of movement, of which the combination best exemplified by the cold calculated erotic dance of Salome before Herod. A process built on several elements that resulted in the calculated extraction of the head of John the Baptist. A scientific process was implored to arrange an optimal result for the dancer recorded biblically and through art.
Gustave Moreau, Salome Dancing Before Herod
The theoretical model and characteristic in a nonlinear model of dance can apparently be quantified and qualified in chart form as shown below:
The dance information, research and process development, presented in ‘Researching Dance, Evolving Modes of Inquiry’ edited by Sondra Horton Fraleigh and Penelope Hanstein, analyse dance and do a very good job in interpreting from the scientific to the literary the very fiber of movement and factors whether cultural, ritual, erotic, entertainment and processes. Just the simple diagram (figure 1) above demonstrates that that dance is a complete science that is formed and nurtured by nature, environment and humans. One can see the various and numerous elements that influence the emotion or state of dance whether traditional or contemporary.
As J.A. Lazarus explains the basic theory behind of a feminist aesthetic of contemporary dance (figure 1)
"conveys a web of ideological connections derived through an anthropological, historical, philosophical and theoretical analysis of the creative process of contemporary dancing making and feminist theory."1
Although the primary subject of my work is on the female dance figure, a further qualification and expansion to Lazarus’ explanation is that this theory is applicable to any and all dance as well as for any gender (my amendment to the theory).
This theory with its characteristics is but a neuron in the dance atomic structure, but a very important speck that drives the qualification of dance movements allowing colour of movement to be put to canvas. Through this insight, my works can benefit from the qualification of the depth of characterization presented in this theory. This reference legitimizes and confirms my aspirations and inspirations to focus on erotic movement of dance in nature and set it correctly to the express of art.
To properly attain good knowledge of dance, not just from experience, is to study the science, theory and aesthetics of dance (the human side) and to combine this with the harmony of nature through art, the creative visual recording medium of all ages. This is an important cognitive element for my development and assists towards mastery of this genre.
However dance is nearly as old as nature and is an immense topic to simply research and study as one complete singular topic and within a confines of the program period, therefore it was important for me to partition dance into a time period of study. Therefore, the study of dance needs to be narrowed to current contemporary dance while within a natural setting.
In a wonderful and possibly all-encompassing description of artistic feel of nature, the French Symbolist painter Odilon Redon stated:
"The artist submits from day to day to the fatal rhythm of the impulses of the universal world which encloses him, continual centre of sensations, always pliant, hypnotized by the marvels of nature which he loves, his scrutinizes. His eyes like his soul, are in perpetual communion with the most fortuities of phenomena"
With this description of the phenomenon of nature in painting, the missing element is the inclusion of the dance to compliment nature within art. The research as presented in this MA program documents contemporary dance forms and figures through an in-depth look and inspirations of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Chris Ofili and Merce Cunningham enhanced by the settings of Rauschenberg. Colour infused through the brilliance of Matisse, while dancers like Nureyev and Polunin in their progressive ballet and abstract dance styles under imaginary environment provide ideas for the dance figures within my paintings. The composition of all these elements are evident in my paintings titled ‘Tiptoeing on the Rocks’ and ‘Ballad of a Ballerina’.
Claudia Kusznirczuk, Tiptoeing on the Rocks, 2019
Claudia Kusznirczuk, Ballad of a Ballerina, 2019
Sondra Horton Fraleigh and Penelope Hanstein, Researching Dance, Evolving Modes of Inquiry