In Freshman Seminar, many of our assignments and projects incorporate multiple elements beyond the basic purpose to practice learned material. Whether developing skills in time-management, communication, or production skills, we were constantly multitasking in order to present a suitable final product. In our assignment for Moving Space, this concept of combining new information with work methods definitely applied. While creating a dance for film that explored moving in and out of a specific space, all groups were forced to work efficiently and cooperatively. As a result of the tight timeframe we were given, creating Stairwork was not only an exploration of space and movement, but also an exercise in teamwork. Each dancer played a role in developing the installation—whether designing the costume, producing the film, composing the music, finalizing the project, or choreographing.
Inspired by the general flow of traffic on a public staircase and the architectural elements of this detailed stairwell, Stairwork explores entering and exiting space in a site-specific piece.
By choosing a stairwell, perspective, in particular, was one of the first elements we looked at in choreographing movement. Because we were shooting from the bottom of the stairs, any progression through the space would have to involve either an upward or downward path of movement. This element became more interesting as we explored placing dancers on different places throughout the space. When watching the video, notice how dancers closer to the top of the stairs appear smaller, and dancers closer to the bottom of the stairs appear larger. This variation in size as a result of the simple placement of the camera, gave the audience an entirely new element to consider beyond what would be perceived in a flat performance space, such as a traditional stage.
This stairwell was also chosen for the intricacy of its design. We explored the possibilities of connections between movement and structure by creating choreography that reflected the visual elements in the stairwell. One of our first and most important discoveries about the space was the design in the lower section of the bannister which included small openings. We included with part of the space by choreographing movement that included the bringing dancers’ extremities through and out of the openings. This was an interesting element of the film because it allowed specific parts of the body to be paired with specific elements in the space. When the dancers put their arms and legs in the openings, the video only captured that body part, the rest of the dancer was not visible. This made any movement of the hands or feet especially obvious.
Music was an important element of Stairwork. Group member Brianna Rhodes used the skills she developed in GarageBand to create a composition that reflected the general tone of the movement we created. Although the music does not align perfectly with every specific piece of choreography, it follows a similar pattern to that of the dancers. Notice how the combination of this music’s intricate melodies and rhythms with its extended notes and less detailed sections reflects the space we chose for our project:
With the cumulative efforts of all group members, Stairwork came together in a short amount of time. Please enjoy the full version below: