Monday, January 21, 2008

No Boundaries

One of the things I find most inspiring about the way Tanya works is that she doesn't recognize any boundary between what has traditionally been considered "acting" and "dancing". There are long traditions that encourage expertise and vocabulary in each of these traditions - theatre has its long history of character development, connection between character and text, the actor's creation of a "reality" and so forth. And dancers have traditionally dealt with a tradition of virtuosity - meaning that what we would normally consider "dance" had something of an expertise about it, not to be 'indulged' by amateurs. This history of related but separate growth has given us a remarkable and rich literature in both disciplines, but it has also limited their visions.

At its fundamental roots, both dance, and what we consider acting come from the same atavistic tradition: the expression of ideas bigger than daily commerce. And while Tanya does not hit our student/performers with this overly-intellectualized idea, it's really brilliant to see her approach this way. Because she refuses to recognized the boundaries between acting and dance, her communication of this idea to her performers acts to liberate them. Whereas a young performer might feel intimidated to take on a dance project - if they have no dance background - Tanya's simple, almost child-like approach to play finds these performers throwing themselves into their work like they had years of training.

I think it is largely because of the de-emphasis of virtuosity - that is, how 'talented' a dancer they are - makes the play area an open, inviting space.

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