Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I posted already in a previous blog about Synergy of elements in your dance (see ). This time, I’m tackling cohesion, which should really have been a first step. Whereas synergy is all the elements working together to enhance the performance, cohesion is all the elements fitting together… i.e., cohesion is the first step and then, if you’re lucky and/or have planned well, synergy will be the next level.

Head scratching
I’ve seen a lot of performances over the years that have left me scratching my head… some of them are downright bad… but, you know, it’s not that often that it’s just plain bad. What happens often instead is that it leaves you scratching your head because the elements individually aren’t bad but putting them together didn’t have a good result. If you’ve ever watched Top Chef, you’ve heard the judges say something like “These ingredients together weren’t working… there was no relationship between them.” So we’re talking about the same principle here.

For example (and not that I’ve seen that specific example…), let’s say you’re using some classical music from the 18th century, wearing a post-apocalyptic type of costume, hair is totally 80s, facial expression is uber upbeat cabaret, and you’re doing some folkloric moves. Okay, this example is really farfetched but I’ve seen some that approach that level of schizophrenia.

Common thread
So you want a common thread throughout the elements. That’s how you can make cohesion work. Again, if you watch Top Chef and/or Project Runway, the critiques will often touch on that. It’s the same thing for dancing. It needs to make sense why those elements are brought in together.

Stand alone piece
And I’m not talking about explaining away why you chose all those elements and how they make sense to you… if it’s truly a good idea, it will need to come out in your dance so that it will be obvious in the piece that you are presenting. It’s getting increasingly rarer that you will get an intro before your piece… and even if you do, they may mess up what you wrote… there are some pieces that maybe would benefit from having a program so you could read about the piece (and programs are nearly a thing of the past... even rarer than the intros)… but if the idea is too intellectual and not enough represented in dance, then it’s not fully developed for the dance medium. Your performance needs to be self-explanatory as much as possible.

Back to cohesion
So back to the original point… and that farfetched example… if you love all those elements, it’s cool… but maybe you shouldn’t pair them together. It would be better to do individual pieces centered on one of the items and run with that thread… explore it in more depth. You’ll be surprised (agreeably so) with what you’ll find!

Discordance can be way cool… but the way that this is done the most effectively is when only ONE item is opposite to the rest. It’s a statement when you do that.

Not all concepts are usable
Just a note that not all concepts are usable… there are things that are much better in your head and they should stay there. And it’s a matter also of some concepts, while interesting, may not be usable for your medium and maybe another medium would be better. So it may not be a danceable thing but would make for a great thing to write about… then why don’t you write about it? I’d like to read it!

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