space after narration
CHIRALITY THEORY OF DANCE/ARCHITECTURE
Contemporary Dance developed in opposition to the traditional space of the theatre, the proscenium stage. Dance and architecture have found themselves in a productive dialog, and dance has now also established closer links to science and technological communications research (virtual reality systems, web design, interactive design).
The history of modern and contemporary dance is one of resistance to the conventional, geometric space that has also defined the theatrical stage since the Renaissance. The proscenium arch by itself already determines the frame in which the perspectivally-ordered structure unfolds. It was in these terms, in any case, that choreographers and theatre-makers viewed the stage until the beginning of the 20th century. On such a stage, the dancers and actors were unambiguously defined by the laws of perspective.
It is decisive for the relation between perspectival space and dance that this architectural thinking has been inscribed in the body of the dancer through classical training. Technical elements such as the strict frontality and outward turn of body parts, and a constant center of gravity cause the body of the dancer to internalize perspective.
Social conceptions and dance are closely linked to one another. They are fundamentally altered with modernity; indeed, space has become one of the central aspects of modern choreography, beginning with Russian constructivism, early modernist and expressionist dance, eurythmics, and the architectural experiments in design and movement by the Bauhaus artists.
Two artists stand at the beginning of this development: Adolphe Appia, the set designer, and Rudolf von Laban, the dancer and researcher of movement. Appia also found a congenital partner in Jacques-Dalcroze and his school of music and rhythm. Together, in the Festspielhaus Hellerau near Dresden, they revolutionized the possibilities of theatre. In the place of painted backdrops, Appia conceived an architectonic space of stairs, walls, and columns in which the dancers had to move concretely. The stage became a space in which the dancers had to move concretely.
The stage became a space of action for the human body, space became rhythmicized and energized. "The motion of the human body had need of obstacles in order to express itself; all artists know that the beauty of bodily movement depends on the variety of points of rest that are offered by the floor and by objects." According to Appia, the dancer's body first attains its genuine dimensions in the plasticity of space.
This had an effect not only on modern dance but also on ballet. Nijinksy's revolutionary choreography was first and foremost an attack on geometric space. In "L'Apres-midi d'un faune," he cut away the viewer's perspective through his relief-like choreography at the front of the stage, and developed the plasticity of the body laterally within the plane. Appia's rethinking of the stage as resistance to the body lives on in the history of 20th century dance and has had a strong influence on the contemporary physical theatre. Similarly, Russian constructivism and Malevich's suprematism have influenced current eastern european dance projects that explore the physics and metaphysics of movement space.
One can also point to the long-term impact of the Bauhaus experiments, especially Oscar Schlemmer's Triadic Dances and his and Kandinsky's explorations of cubist costumes and abstract movement/color. In the works of contemporary tanztheater, for example, one is always made aware of the particularity of the space and the specific effort it demands. The water in Pina Bausch's "Arien," or the peat floor in her "Sacre de printemps," are good examples of this. Moving in the sunken floor leads to the real exhaustion of the "victims" of the sacrifice. Through the space of the stage, dance theatre recuperates the reality of the body.
The spatial understanding of Rudolf von Laban is more abstract. Laban acknowledges the fundamental relationship between space and motion. At the beginning of the 20th century, he writes in his main work, "Choreutics:" "Nonetheless, we should neither look upon a site simply as empty space divorced from movement, nor understand movement as occurring occasionally; for movement is a continuous current within placedness itself, and this is the fundamental aspect of space. Space is the hidden principle of movement, and movement is a visible aspect of space."