While watching Bill T Jones’ depiction of phase four in his theory of the 5 phases, I was most moved when Jones changes the tone of the performance from 6:00 to 6:37. In this section of the demonstration, I was able to see and understand this as being the turning point in the performance. Jones utilizes his arms in order to establish the inner emotion that is being emphasized and changes the speed at which he moves them to symbolize a shift in tone. This movement that is being emphasized in this excerpt is a clear depiction of a moment of realization. The audience is able to identify each moment of realization through Jones’ incorporation of his voice. What’s being expressed and how it is being shown is significant as it highlights the importance of identity within dance. At the beginning of this excerpt, Jones uses his arms and swings them around and over his body at a slow speed that shows the disassociation of one’s identity. This later changes as Jones swing his arms out at a faster pace after his sense of realization which can show the importance of staying true to one’s self in order to successfully dance. This excerpt of phase 4 differs from phases 1, 2, and 3 as it is the only one that successfully displays Jones’ message. Phase 4 focuses on one’s emotions regarding the situation which then leads them to come up with dance moves that can display what they’re feeling while the other phases emphasize the movements being perfect instead.
I decided to recreate part of Jones’ choreography that is portrayed from 6:20- 6:28 because of how Jones’ physical portrayal of his thoughts shows the deep emotional struggle highlighted in this portion. I recreated this excerpt of the choreography while utilizing the 4 phases. In the first phase, I focused more on the action without overanalyzing. For the second phase, I found myself taking more time to complete it because I struggled with vocalizing every motion I was doing. The third phase wasn’t very hard but allowed me to realize my frustration with not being able to speak my mind without any restrictions while perfecting the movements. In the fourth phase, I noticed how much power that is held within one’s core while dancing and speaking. I was only able to successfully pinpoint an emotion in my movements when I utilized my core for both talking and dancing. This made me realize that power is only achieved when all aspects of communication like movement and voice are strategically utilized together.
In “Embodying Rhythm: Improvisation as Agency in African Dance” by Abby Carlozzo the idea is that improvisation isn’t spontaneous and must be backed up by some knowledge of the origins of the dance in order to complement the dance traditions and not completely go against it. Carlozzo emphasizes that “to speak of an improvised dancer’s spontaneity is to recognize the dancer’s mastery of impulse and moment-to-moment decision-making’ (215). Improvisation is intentional as it comes from a knowledgeable and conscious dancer that understands how they can shift the original dances to support the history. In the article, Carlozzo references the Ghanaian popular dance called azonto while seeing random people on the side of the road engaging in a dance party. In order for this dance party to have occurred, there must’ve been mutual knowledge among all participants regarding the details of the dance such as the rhythm which allowed them to utilize it and put a spin to it. The relationship between Carlozzo’s idea that improvisation isn’t spontaneous and requires some knowledge and the reference to a moment where an azonto dance party broke out shows how this knowledge is found with the culture and how influential the culture is for the collective because it allows for improvisation to occur and not take away from the popular dance itself.
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