Translating dance: 2017 edition

In October, I will present a lecture-demonstration at the 2017 CORD/SDHS Joint Conference at The Ohio State University called “Movement moves: translating dance.” This project stems from research I started during my second year of grad school in Dr. Harmony Bench’s course, Bodies on the Line. (You can read the posts I created to track that process here). In her course, I became increasingly interested in how movement moves from one body to another through the process of teaching and learning movement material. I began to think of learning to dance as a process of translation: the young dancer watches and copies the teacher’s movement until shuffle-ball-change can be performed without thinking; one dancer teaches another a sequence of choreography until both can perform it together in unison. But what is lost and found in the translation of movement from one distinct body to another? Physical structure, dance training, culture, trends, and personal history (among many other factors) influence how dance material is learned and performed, and how meaning is constructed for an audience.

In my final project for Dr. Bench’s course, I explored the idea of dance as translation through a series of three duets between myself and another person (two with dancers, and one with an actor). My current research again focuses on  a duet, this time, between me and my friend Charles Miles.


Charles Miles

I met Charles when he started taking my dance class for adults over 50 in 2015. He had never taken a dance class before, but had experience coaching discus and shot-put (which he now talks about as “small dances”). Since starting my dance class two years ago, he’s also taken a few semesters of contemporary, improvisation, and composition at OSU’s Department of Dance, and has recently started taking classes at a great new studio in town called Flux + Flow. Charles has spent the last two years immersed in dance: taking classes, seeing performances and seeking out dance videos online. His curiosity and excitement for dance has really enlivened my own practices as it helps me to approach the familiar with fresh eyes.

Some questions will drive the process of creating our duet:

  • What factors influence how dance material is learned and performed?
  • How are Charles and I distinct? How are we similar? Where is the common ground? What is the distance between our differences?
  • What does it mean to dance “together”?
  • How do our bodies dancing together create meaning(s) for the viewer?
  • What is lost and found in the process of translating movement between bodies?

Charles and I will meet once a week to rehearse. We will look forward to sharing our discoveries with you!



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