Studying time and relationship in duet form

In my Music and Choreography course we have now moved on from solo explorations to working in duets. My partner, Tommy Batchelor, and I each came together with 1 minute of individual material prepared so that we would have a movement base to start our collaboration.

Tommy threw in a slight challenge of using a prop in his material: a chair. But as we showed each other our phrases, we noticed that while my phrase might appear to be quite different (mostly in that it was upright and prop-less) both phrases seemed to emphasize shifts in weight, change in direction, and a sense of precariousness.  Putting our work together to form something new didn’t end up being as challenging as I thought it might be.

In class on Tuesday , we started watching other people’s duets and some common themes started to emerge, mostly a type of questioning around relationship. Something about the duet form makes me see narrative , or crave one if it isn’t there, more so than any other solo or group form. I more easily attach myself to race, gender, and other indicators that might tell me who these people are and how they relate to one another. Sometimes those indicators are intended by the choreographer, and sometimes they aren’t, but the duet form invites that type of questioning.

When we received feedback for our study, Tommy and I discovered that many people felt the chair was a third character in our dance. In some cases it was even the crucial link between Tommy’s movement and my own. It was noted that because Tommy’s movement on the chair is unexpected, his performance really took the foreground at the beginning of our study and I was in the background.  It was only once we linked up in timing, and then when I began to connect to the chair, that our relationship became more clear.

We also asked people to sit on all sides of the room as we hadn’t decided if there was a clear “front” to our study. We received some interesting feedback about perspective, especially in relationship to viewing my movement through the spaces in the chair. I’m eager to explore our next iteration of this study with more specificity in our relationship and direction. You can watch it below:

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