The artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas disagreed about style. Degas believed a good painting needed a pretty subject. Cassatt believed that composition was most important and to prove her point, she composed a painting of a servant girl at her toilette, titled Girl Arranging Her Hair. The model is not a classical beauty by any means, but the painting is fascinating none the less. The beauty of the picture comes from the rigor of the composition, the angles of the girls arms and braid to the furniture behind her, and the gentle contrast of colors. Degas conceded the point.
So what does this have to do with dance, you ask? Everything! For those not well-studied in dance, the general thought is that dance is all about (traditional ideas of) beauty; the movement, the music, the costumes, even the dancers themselves, etc... Not so! Just as Cassatt proved in painting, what makes dance really fascinating is how the dance uses the space; the contrasting angles formed by the dancers; and how lighting, costumes, music and even props can help tell the story. In this week's LIFE class we watched a movie of some of the dances performed at Houston's Taste of Dance Salad Festival.
Unfortunately we cannot show the movie we watched in class this week on the blog, so you will need to take my word for how interesting and enjoyable it was. The class favorites seemed to be a dance by Mats Ek and his wife (both in their 60s, proving that dance is for all ages, not just skinny 20 somethings) and the dance of a woman going about her day, with a male dancer enacting all the objects she comes in contact with. Watching him become clothing, jewelry, food, a phone, and (class favorite) high heels through dance was amazing. See the links below for the 2011 Dance Salad Festival, and check out dance events here at Cy-Fair too.
Houston's Dance Salad web page: http://www.dancesalad.org/community.shtml
Mary Cassatt's Girl Arranging Her Hair: http://www.nga.gov/collection/gallery/gg83/gg83-46572.html