Squared: Reflections

As soon as the idea of filming some excerpts from “The Square” performance through my dancing shadow began to develop in my mind, I started seeing a simultaneously abstract and precise potential in this virtual kind of working, which I am also interested in finding in the live performance.

The abstract potential is related with what triggered me to develop this screendance video, which is a thought circulating in my mind since I first saw my shadow figure foreshortening squares on the white wall. I wanted to see how the work’s dramaturgy will be affected when the person dancing “The Square” is somewhat dehumanized. By reducing my body image to a shadow figure, a two-dimensional silhouette, which may as well become stretched, multiplied, distorted and transparent depending on the light, and which is by default deprived of three-dimensional detail and emotional expression (yet resembles so much to the human figure), I was trying to see how the main aspects of my dramaturgy could be alternatively developed and communicated. For this reason, I intentionally directed my choices in preserving obsession, repetition, accuracy, formalism, sharpness, failure, and self-transformation in the foreground of this screendance work.

By keeping the same spatial journey I do in “The Square” performance, I realized that I created a geometrical analogy, that is, speaking in mathematical terms, a projection of my three-dimensional work to a two-dimensional level (i.e. the wall). In geometry, this kind of projection is usually used to solve complicated, three-dimensional visual problems, by analogically projecting the three-dimensional shape to a two-dimensional level. In my case, this projection took away all three-dimensional body detail, and, as a result, manifested the dramaturgical capacity of my spatial structure without the assistance of time, micro-movement, emotional expression, and human interaction.

However, I very soon realized how differently my movement research is communicated through the camera lenses, since the absence of live audience always influences the way I improvise on the square. The shadow version of me altered my movement choices, as things that worked for the performance did not work for the camera and vice versa. Filming my shadow doing the squares also offered me a great check of my geometrical precision both in space and movement, realizing the importance of it in contradistinction with the inevitable physical failure due to reduction of scale that comes in the end.

Eventually, I have observed that even though the shadow created a new dance of its own, a different, two-dimensional perception of body movement and of the square’s geometry, this screendance version of my research offered an alternative entry point to its dramaturgy, which does require the same use of space, but not of movement and time. Sense of time is totally different when the square is danced for the camera than for a physical audience. Its screendance version came along with a guided gaze, therefore time could be developed in a more dense and fast way, depending on my choices. Choreography of editing unfolded a whole new way of processing and delivering my research. The body became a concept, that is a shadow representing the body –which could be any body– and improvisation was not a presupposition for empathizing with the “Squared” persona anymore; her obsessions, her tricks and her checks of actual spatial and physical failures. Movement was reduced to simple repetitive sequences, forming a totally guided and choreographed version of my work, deprived from the agony of actually doing the squares real time andfailing as less as possible.

In all, I believe this journey revealed to me another, virtual, path my research could take. This fact, expanded my view on how my research should be delivered, shaking many of my previous beliefs and presuppositions. Camera lenses assisted me in seeing through them not only my research’s dramaturgical underpinnings, but also my own affiliations and biases regarding the modes of delivery I have used up until now.