Moving Space – Stairwork

My Moving Space project, titled Stairwork, is a collaborative dance installation residing on the stairwell of the rotunda in Sullivant Hall created by Hazel Black, Lisa D’Onofrio, Grace Robinson, Brianna Rhodes, and myself. This location, upon of first learning about the project, was one of the first that came to mind of wanting to choreograph into the space. Oddly enough, that was what most of my group members had admitted to as well, therefore it was easy to come to a unanimous decision on the location. I believe that the stairwell appealed so much to me because there are various planes for movement to be performed on. Compared to a typical place where dances are performed – otherwise known as a stage – the stair well allowed us to use the landing, each step, and even the railings as platforms for our movement. The stairwell was also a great structure to draw inspiration for movement. For example, traffic on a stairwell typically flows from the top to the bottom or from the bottom to the top and our piece demonstrated that by dancers coming into the space from the top steps and exiting at the bottom. Inspiration was also taken from the architecture of the stairwell: there were many geometrical patterns seen in the stairs, the landing, and railings, and that translated into many shapes and patterns that can be seen in the movement.
On composing choreography, as a group in the space, a majority of our movement was created by us placing ourselves at the top of the stairs and improvising creative ways to come down. Everything started with extremes; for example, sliding down railings or rolling down the stairs, and once we had concepts we derived more lyrical movement. Every member contributed ideas to the choreography, and every idea received added layers of ideas from other members. While coming up with the movement was not necessarily difficult, string the numerous ideas into a one linear idea became the challenge. Surprisingly, the solution to that problem lied within the staircase, as the pathways for traffic became the structure for our movement.

The music for the piece was composed after the piece had been set. In terms of our time frame, it was unrealistic to wait for it until we had music to choreograph to; once our piece was set, the music was simple overlaid. In my opinion, choreographing by being influenced by music by being influenced by the space would each achieve different results, and our group wanted to achieve the latter. Brianna was in charge of composing the music and with ideas for the music from the group, she created an amazing score that fit very well with the piece.

Our video was shot vertically and from only one angle, yet it was able to capture every level of movement that we performed on. After scanning the QR code and standing in the position, our video made it appear as if dancers were coming into the space itself and the dance was occurring in real-time. Because our video was shot in one take and no cuts were to be made, we ran the piece multiple times, because one mistake ruined the entire footage. That made the editing job easier for Grace Robinson who only needed to overlay the music, mute the actual footage, and upload the video onto YouTube.

My role in this project was a collaborator in the choreography and creating the project poster alongside Hazel Black. This project was not nearly as stressful as I had expected it to be, and I was glad that I was able to work with my friends to create this installation. Because of our standing friendship, I feel that the group benefited from the respect and support that was already present. I am proud of the work that we have created and had an amazing experience creating it.

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