Here is a thought that is actually appropriate for this Tumblr:
After logging my hours of dance-watching in the thousands (live dance more like hundreds?) I’m starting to notice what I like and what I hate about watching dance, which feels much more genuine than the bullshit reasons I have for liking or disliking classical and jazz music (actual reason: they sound nice and/or interesting). And I decided after 2.5 years of BFAs that the biggest issue I have with it is how my attention is divided.
Music comprises the combination of all simultaneous frequencies at a moment in time (granted “frequency” implies multiple moments). It’s true that I might not notice the bass line on one listen, or the quiet scratchy sounds on the other, but regardless, all of the information is happening simultaneously 1) in a way that contributes to the whole and 2) in a way that I can’t ignore. Dance doesn’t always do both and it really bothers me because I feel like I’m missing out and I’m not okay with it.
The logical conclusion is that I dislike having my attention competed by two different sources. But that’s not quite true either. I really enjoyed that Michaela’s solo had someone reading during her BFA. I felt like I could pay attention to two different things, like a camera lens shifting from the mountains in the background to the flowers in the foreground, all in the same shot. The pace of the piece felt steady but like it was pausing for me to take it all in. It wasn’t hurried.
I think Julia’s group piece had a little bit of this too but the pace was more swift. Instead of contrasting displays of a larger piece, the characters felt integrated enough that I could look across the landscape and see the patterns throughout. If I missed a specific action by a person, it was okay because I knew what they were like and I could catch a good representation of them the next look around. This felt like hanging out with a group of friends in a lively party and going around the room having conversations with the different people at my leisure.
I’m sure there are more examples but these two come to mind. But they are in some way the exception, and that probably comes from the audience vs. choreographer / process vs. product issue. I don’t know what it’s like to experience the movement in a dance piece, but then again that doesn’t particularly matter to me. Nobody disqualifies their own taste in music because they don’t play an instrument, and they’re probably right. What I’m finding is that I like the pieces that make consideration of a cohesive form and structure (not necessarily narrative) and a lot of that comes from being able to take it in. If I can’t pay attention to the points that support this intent, there is no communication of the purported experience.
This feels like the stupidest point to make ever but I will forget it and it applies to music as well. So there, it’s written down.