Sunday, April 29, 2012

Same Space, Different Feel

As some of you know, last semester I got involved with a group called TransPose. TransPose is a contemporary dance company that is completely student run and student choreographed. Now, some of you may be asking yourself, what is contemporary dance? Lord knows that I had no idea when I joined. The style of contemporary dance draws from different types of dance and innovates them, adding something new. You have probably heard of ballet, (I would hope) so let me start there. Ballet is characterized by leading movements with your feet or your hands and is very focused on flow. There are few sharp or abrupt movements in ballet. (Disclaimer: This is only my basic understanding. Please don't throw rotten food at me if I make a mistake!)

At its basic level, contemporary dance explores movement led by other parts of the body. Say, an elbow. Making your body follow your elbow out to the side and back over your shoulder opens up your torso for another movement while also changing the direction your are facing. These types of movements embody contemporary dance.

Most dance performances happen on stage. At Notre Dame, they can be in Washington Hall or on one of the stages in DPAC. A unique thing about this group, TransPose, is that they strive to never perform on an actual stage. Last semester, our show took place in the ballroom of the LaFortune Student Center and this semester in the Jordan Hall of Science. Not only are we performing in unique places but we are doing it in unique ways.

In the fall, the opening number took place with the audience eagerly crouched in the center of the ballroom while the dancers of the first piece, including myself, danced in a circle around them, rotating the circle as the dance progressed. Despite a brief and uncomfortable encounter with a pillar during a jump turn, it was thrilling as a dancer. From the reactions of the audience, I think they enjoyed it too. In Jordan, the audience entered from the north entrance and with each dance moved further down the grand galleria until the finale in the reading room on the opposite side of the building.

Dancing in these places has changed how I view them. Excluding the fact that this post is essentially a shameless plug for TransPose, this aspect of the group in particular has affected me personally. When I walk into Jordan, barely awake for chemistry at 8:30 in the morning, I walk over a spot where I performed. I trudge toward class remembering how I jumped and twirled for an audience not three feet away. I think it is wonderful that the University allows groups like TransPose to use these spaces because it gives it that little something extra. When I attend a lecture in the LaFortune Ballroom, the pieces I performed there run through my head. When I show people the fancy Jordan Hall of Science, I can speak not only of the hours of classes and labs that I attended there but also of the dance and emotion that flowed through an otherwise academically devoted building.

This is part of why I love it here at Notre Dame so very, very much. I would be nowhere else, but at Notre Dame.

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