Jody Sperling - Time Lapse DanceJody Sperling is a dancer, choreographer and dance scholar. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance. This is Jody's blog.
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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Response to Critical Change at The Voice

I just heard (belatedly) that after 40 years of writing for The Village Voice, Deborah Jowitt has decided to stop contributing to that paper because she felt pressure from the editor to submit more negative reviews. (Her open letter explaining her thoughts is posted here, along with the editors response: http://www.danceusa.org/ejournal/post.cfm/a-change-at-the-village-voice)

Dance criticism is not thumbs up or thumbs down. What Deborah has done consistently over the years, better than any living writer, is to see and respond to dance. She is one of the most articulate observers of the form and this is her genre of criticism. It takes much more skill to be able to understand a dance than to slam it.

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Dancing while Pregnant

Having watched many friends dance throughout their pregnancies, I had no idea how challenging it would be to stay active during my own. As I write this, I’m 27 weeks along and expecting a baby girl in late August. I had just recovered from the overwhelming fatigue and omni-present naseau of the first trimester, when I was diagnosed with a “subchorionic hematoma” which is a fancy way of saying I had a small glob of blood trapped between my uterus and placenta. Not a big deal, except that my OB (who clearly had no idea of my profession) said, “This shouldn’t affect your work at all, but don’t exercise until at least two weeks after this goes away.” Huh, not affect my work? How are you supposed to dance and choreograph without exercising? I started fantasizing about a conceptual, talky piece I could do while reclining on a chais lounge eating bon-bons.

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Quote of the Day: Boulez by way of Brown

“The highest goal is to combine innovation with memory, to build with a consciousness of the past. That way one can create something new through an act of will, not merely by accident.” – Pierre Boulez as quoted in Caroline Brown’s Chance and Circumstance (p.41).

This quote just about sums up my whole “time-lapse” philosophy. I find myself saying this in different ways every day. Aside from this passage, am abs0lutely loving Chance and Circumstance so far!

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Make-Up and Transformation

Recently I’ve experienced the transformative power of make-up from a dual perspective. On my journey to India in October, I saw a demonstration of Kathakali, a ritual dance-theater from the state of Kerala. Kathakali performers typically apply their make-up in front of the audience before the drama begins. Tourists, myself among them, get to watch (and take pictures) as the actors perform the preparation ritual. Painting their faces with brightly colored dyes, they assume the guises of characters from the dance-drama. The effect is is one of total transformation. The actor is unrecognizable in his mythic persona. The dance itself involves exaggerated facial expressions, executed with rhythmic precision. The elaborate make-up is integral to the characterization and also enhances the perception of the expressive movements.

A couple of weeks later, I found myself in Montreal as the subject of an Art Nouveau makeover. My own elaborate hairdo and make-up were for a video shoot arranged by Moment Factory, a multi-media installation company based in that city. The idea was to make video projections of me dancing “a La Loie” which will be included as part of the Fête des lumières in Lyon, France this coming December. The projections will be large-scale, so the organizers wanted to make the face and overall effect quite dramatic. Loie herself embodied the spirit of Art Nouveau, so the makeover was period-appropriate. As inspiration, the office wall where I was being “done” was adorned with images of Nouveau-style women: trailing locks of hair adorned, seemingly spontaneously, with garlands of flowers. After three hours in the hands of make-up artist Laurie Deraps, I had abundant hair-extensions, false eyelashes, faux flowers and pearls artfully arranged in around my hair and face. Looking in the mirror, I saw myself transformed into a fantasy from another century.

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Raw Footage, Cape Take 1

We haven’t edited this footage yet, but Linda Lewett did such a fabulous job shooting me improvising last month at Vassar that I wanted to share this whole take before we chop it up.

The music is Quentin Chiappetta’s percussion-only “click-track” version of “Anitra’s Dance” from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite. Lighting is by David Ferri. Recorded at Vassar College, August 8, 2009

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