Animation of a Score: Melody Excerpt

by Lucinda Childs

My score for Melody Excerpt is a two-dimensional black-and-white overhead view of the dance, specifically the paths in space of each dancer within set time intervals of the same length. This idea was inspired by the drawings of Arch Lauterer, who traced the paths in space of each of Martha Graham’s solos.* They capture what we would have seen at the end of each of her solos if her steps in space had been a brush stroke of black on a white surface. With Melody Excerpt, a dance for five dancers, these paths overlap, and I was fascinated by the patterns that emerged in the finished score, as they demonstrate that no one configuration of the three phrases in the dance are ever combined in the same way. I always thought, however, that it would be beautiful to have these patterns unfold in space and time so that the spatial directions and interactions of the dancers could be observed in the real time of the dance, emphasized by using color to identify each of them. The animation of the paths in space provides the possibility of simultaneous viewing of the score of the dance alongside of the dancers dancing.

*Several of Arch Lauterer’s drawings of Graham’s solos are published in Merle Armitage, Martha Graham, Dance Horizons, 1966.

Melody Excerpt in performance, Friday, October 4, 2013, at FringeArts, Philadelphia. Dancers: Megan Bridge, Nora Gibson, Janet Pilla, Michele Tantoco, and Annie Wilson. Displayed on the right is Jorge Cousineau’s animation of Childs’ score for Melody Excerpt.

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