imagery and metaphor

I’ve been thinking about the possible distinctions between metaphor and imagery, as related to dance. I hear a lot about abstraction in dance, generally used to indicate that a dance is not narrative. The truth is, anything apart from lived experience is abstraction. The vocabularies of spoken language are abstract. Though largely agreed on both in content and because of the way a particular language is constructed, words are nevertheless less abstract. They point toward meaning. And while eventually we have the experience of knowing them, not having to stop and define them, they represent ideas and actions, from the simple to the complex. All dance languages are abstract, too. So if I want to “read” dance, a far less agreed upon language, I either “read” it at a visceral level, or I “read” it cognitively. Thus I have been interested to try, in constructing the language of any given dance, to steer (at least to some degree) viewers in one direction or the other.

I am going to use these photos to see if I can explain what I think we are working with as we try to parse how we deliver the ideas of this film.

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First of all, as an aside, I love this photo of Alex soaking up the moment before we got started yesterday. It was one of those Maine days that began with sun even if it didn’t end that way. And our state is exploding with color at this point: there is so much joy in the vibrancy we are experiencing here from the landscape. It’s an extraordinary year for autumn and the colors are absolutely saturated.

More to my point above, I can look at this photo and conjure [cognitive] interpretations. My first thought was “Wow, ha! The top of screen door creates a row of snow cones.” (I could “see” them in my mind’s eye in a holder on top the counter of a snow cone trailer.) Don looked at this and immediately noticed the reflection in the door. What looks like continuous green grass, from the left edge of the screen door, over, is actually a double of the yard. Alice Through the Looking Glass! I can see what in my imagination is a parallel universe. And use my imagination to enter it.

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In this photo, a view into the backyard, one we plan to visit in various ways as part of the film, I looked at the clothes line and I thought “Those raindrops look like tears.” [simile]

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I’m bringing back a different photo of the same curtain. I’ve been obsessed over the past two years watching this curtain move in the breeze, and photographing it. I can feel the fleetingness of the moment in my body; I don’t have to think it. The image moves through me at a visceral level; I sense it. I don’t think it.

That may or may not be someone else’s experience. But these are the distinctions that interest me in the dance making I do.

I have to add one more photo. The geese found us yesterday. The wild goose chase is on….

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