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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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Paper Dance

I’ve always been into paper. When I was a kid someone gave me an origami book and within one weekend I made every crane, mushroom, dinosaur, tulip, nun, mask, etc. pictured in it. On Tuesday evening at the New Museum, I picked up this little gem: “Folding Architecture: Spatial, Structural and Organizational Diagrams” by Sophia Vyzoviti. Since then I haven’t been able to stop making paper sculptures.

So why the obsession with paper? “The paperfold is a dynamic artefact, unstable and evolving. It bares the traces of the activity that brings it into being: scores, creases or incisions drawn in the surface of the paper.”(p.9) These words about paper folding clearly relate to dance. Dance generates dynamic spatial trace forms that are fleetingly visible. However “unstable” paper art is, it’s an order of magnitude more concrete than choreography.

A single sheet of paper may be sliced open, folded, curled, wrapped in on itself, tangled, braided or wound, in ways that suggest bodily movement. The plane of the paper abstracts spatial relations, makes them visible. My special niche in dance–working with silk after the style of the great Loie Fuller–does a similar thing. My silk “prosthetic” costuming amplifies every action and exposes its planar dynamics.

All this is pretty heady, but truthfully I’m being guided by instinct and compulsion. It’s so satisfying to be able to make in just few minutes–out of a single sheet of scrap paper–something that is a tangible (if not indelible) marker of gestural action.

I know this relates to the new choreography that is stewing in me now. Cutting the paper multiplies it’s planes so that instead of one “dancer” I have a whole corp de ballet to interweave. In ways I don’t fully understand, this paper exploration is helping me imagine solutions for spatial problems that I will eventually visualize with moving bodies and swirling silk.

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