TWO THIRDS SKY
Two Thirds Sky
From The Windows Gaze
This work-in-progress has been created from a series of research and development sessions in Spring 2018, and is the precursor to a quartet to be created later in the year. The piece draws upon the life and works of 1920s Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka; known for her self-determined ambition, ruthless eye for detail and ambiguous sexuality.
Lempicka’s models included lovers and friends from her life in Montparnasse and the elite of Russian and Parisian nobility. Her most recognizable images are of the rich socialites and ‘bright young things’ of the roaring twenties, and at the height of her fame her portrait paintings were in demand across both Europe and the US. Although described as a Neo-Cubist, she was heavily influenced by the Italianate masters, and her protraits became an immaculately polished ‘mirror’, of her subjects; chiselling their features out of geometric forms and taught, dynamic postures. Her high Art Deco style eventually became emblematic of the pre-war modern era and ultimately the paintings cemented Lempicka’s own reputation as a ‘modern woman’.
From a choreographic perspective I wanted to take on some of de Lempicka’s central precepts with regards composition and apply them to the moving body. I looked at her notions of ‘rhythm in line’, creating ‘bold symbolism’, and working with ‘grand gestures’ to inform how I orchestrated dancers in space. To do this we started by generating gestural material, whereby I asked the dancers to think about certain images such as ‘the child’, ‘the lily’ and ‘the dove’ (recurring themes in Lempicka’s work). We explored crossing the wrists and unfurling and spiralling the hands. These intertwining gestures were then juxtaposed with movement in the legs - creating interesting tensions, rhythms and torsion between the two halves of the body. As the process progressed I asked dancers to swap and share their phrases, which added again to the possibilities and complexities within the material. Once the individual action content was created I experimented with the dancers performing the material in a close spatial relationship. What resulted was an interesting set of movement dialogues that had their own life beyond a representation of the paintings.
The music is Fermer les yeux pour vois (2008) by French composer Phillip Goude; who makes work for both commercial and artistic projects (similar to Lempicka’s approach to painting).
Choreography/direction: Lisa Risdale
Collaborators/ performers: Laura Gibson, Effie McGuire Ward
Costume: Libby Gesikowski
Music: (excerpt from) Si J’etais Blanche (1928) – Josephine Baker
Fermer les yeux pour voir (2008) – Jean Phillippe Goude
Embarque dans les pentes – Jean Phillippe Goude
Documentation: David Middleton and Theresa Haworth
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