Pub. Date:
University of Pittsburgh Press
Choreography and the Specific Image: Nineteen Essays and a Workbook / Edition 1

Choreography and the Specific Image: Nineteen Essays and a Workbook / Edition 1

by Daniel Nagrin
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“The world outside has burst into the studio,” writes the influential dancer, teacher, and choreographer Daniel Nagrin. Many dancers want passionately to confront concrete, difficult subjects. But their formalistic training hasn’t prepared them for what they need to say. This book, the first on choreography approached through content rather than structure, is designed with them in mind.

Spiced with wit and strong opinions, Choreography and the Specific Image explores, in nineteen far-ranging essays, the art of choreography through the life’s work of an important artist. A career of performance, creativity, and teaching spanning five decades, Nagrin reveals the philosophy and strategy of his work with Helen Tamiris, a founder of modern American dance, and of Workgroup, his maverick improvisation company of the 1970s. During an era when many dancers were working with movement as abstraction, Nagrin turned instead toward movement as metaphor, in the belief that dance should be about something. In Choreography and the Specific Image, Nagrin shares with the next generation of dancers just how that turn was accomplished.

“It makes no sense to make dances unless you bring news,” he writes. “You bring something that a community needs, something from you: a vision, an insight, a question from where you are and what churns you up.” In a workbook following the essays, Nagrin lays out a wealth of clear, effective exercises to guide dancers toward such constructive self-discovery. Unlike all other choreography books, Nagrin addresses the concerns of both modern and commercial (show dance) choreographers. “The need to discover the inner life,” he maintains, “is what fires the motion.”

This is Nagrin’s third book of a trilogy, following Dance and the Specific Image: Improvisation and The Six Questions: Acting Technique for Dance Performance. Each focuses on a different aspect of dance—improvisation, performance, and choreography—engaging the specific image as a creative tool.

Part history, part philosophy, part nuts-and-bolts manual, Choreography and the Specific Image will be an indispensable resource for all those who care passionately about the world of dance, and the world at large.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822957508
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 09/01/2001
Edition description: 1
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Daniel Nagrin, dubbed “the great loner of American dance” by Dance Magazine, has worked with Martha Graham, Helen Tamiris, Mme. Anderson-Ivantzova, and Anna Sokolow. He has danced on Broadway, in film and television, and has toured nationally and internationally as a solo concert artist. He is professor emeritus of dance at Arizona State University.

Table of Contents

The Essays
1.Helen Tamiris and Her Teaching of Choreography9
2.A Method of Teaching Choreography24
3.Choreography and the Specific Image41
4.Improvisation as a Tool for Choreography55
5."Rules" for Choreography in No Particular Order59
6.The Play of Metaphor76
7.Modern Dance Choreography--Ballet Choreography90
8.Choreography for the Solo Dancer, Choreography for a Group: The Problems and Differences95
9.Abstract Dance versus What?99
11.Words and Song Lyrics115
14.The Stage: The Costumes, The Lights, The Sets, The Sound129
15.Choreography for the Theatre, Musical Comedy and Opera139
17.The Criticism of Choreography165
18.Anecdotal Material181
19.The Ethics of Aesthetics188
The Workbook
Workbook Introduction and Outline209
1.Warming Up213
Medicine Ball215
Outrageous Travel216
Goldfish Bowl218
Blind Journey218
2.The Rhythm Series220
Breath Rhythm220
Pulse Rhythm221
Inner Rhythm221
Dedicate Your Motion222
Go Visiting223
True Repetition224
Evolving Repetition225
3.Uncovering Sources of Movement: The First Steps226
Each Alone228
Hub Meditation231
Gesture Permutations233
Gesture Rondo234
5.Sense Memory Sources237
The Obstacle239
Passing through a Physical Object240
6.Sources of Movement Material242
The Mind-Wash242
Not Naming242
The Other243
A Duet243
The Duet as a Structure244
7.Finding Gold in "Bad" Habits250
Cliche Rondo250
Your Familiar252
Possessed by a Mannerism253
8.Music Sources of Movement255
Ambient Sound255
Rhythm Circle255
Before, After and On256
Who or What Is Alive in the Music?257
Riff Cactus257
Using Music for Improvisation258
9.Words and Movement259
Creating Words259
Being Created by Words259
Becoming Words259
Why Do You Dance?263
Props Fantasy263
Inside the Outside263
Body Contact265
Seeing through the Eyes of Another266
I Dare You267

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