The Choreography - Movement Language and Movement Style
In all of the Ludus Dance shows, careful choices have been made by the choreographer and dancers about which style of dance to use and what kinds of movements, or movement vocabulary to use which will best communicate the theme or issue.
Although Ludus Dance is a contemporary dance company, many of the shows also include other dance styles such as street dance, ballet, salsa or martial arts. Using different dance styles can help to tell the story, be used to create a certain mood or atmosphere, or help to portray a specific character.
The kinds of movements that the dancers are performing can communicate an idea or theme. Are they using their whole body or just one part of the body? Are they jumping, rolling, stretching or twisting? Is the movement open or closed?
How are the dancers moving – so, which movement dynamics and rhythms can you see? Is the dance slow, smooth and calm, or sharp, punchy and aggressive?
Where are the dancers on the stage? Are they using the whole space and lots of different pathways and directions or are they confined to one part of the stage, or just moving on the floor? What is that showing us?
Are the dancers moving on their own, with a partner or as a whole group? Are they in contact with another dancer – why?
Lets look at some sections from the shows and see how and what these elements of the choreography can tell us about the themes that are being explored.
Clip 1: SOLD
In this section from SOLD called ‘Street’, street dance and contemporary dance styles have been combined in order to create dance sequences that are high energy, fresh, youthful, and fun. The section is about young people, on the street, looking and being cool, meeting, competing, having fun, and impressing each other. So, the movements are open and confident, using the whole body in large expansive movements. The dancers are often facing each other or the audience, have strong eye contact with each other and use facial expressions that really help to show their confidence, that they know each other and that they are friends.
The whole stage is being used, the dancers move in wide and curving pathways, in all directions and are constantly using a variety of levels. This too gives a feeling of their confidence, and that they really feel at home with each other and in this place.
The movement dynamics are direct and punchy, sharp and smooth, bouncy and relaxed giving a funky, exciting and upbeat feel to the dance.
The dancers move in unison, giving a sense of a strong group or gang, they also dance in pairs, suggesting competition, and there are also many moments of contact, showing meeting, playing and competing.
Clip 2: CLASH
In this section from CLASH called ‘Red Mist’, contemporary dance has been fused with movements from an Indian martial art called Kalari. This was chosen as this section is about the build up of anger and the emotions surrounding unresolved conflict.
The big swipes of arms, high leg kicks, jumps and pushes to the floor from the Kalari style show lashing out and letting anger explode, and this contrasts with the more contained movements of circling the head, rebounding, slicing and scooping the arms, dropping and arching which show more of an internal struggle and anger building up inside.
At times the dancers move on the spot in their own personal space, as if trapped and struggling with their own anger. They burst out and move in straight lines, like narrow corridors up and down the stage, to show anger escalating or growing.
The movement is performed with a very strong, direct, aggressive, and sharp dynamic, as well as a more twitchy, springy, sudden quality, all which show the emotion of anger. This contrasts with moments of stillness to show anger brewing before it explodes again.
This section is abstract in style, the dance is not telling a story or showing different characters. The movement is purely expressing emotions and creating a mood.
When the dancers are in contact with each other, there is no communication between them, no real eye contact or facial expressions. The lifts, catches, pulls and pushes show moments of lashing out and bursts of anger leading to conflict rather than any interactions or conflicts between specific characters.
Clip 3: Trapped
1) In TRAPPED, both ballet and contemporary dance styles are used. Rosie Kay, the choreographer has a very balletic choreographic style, influenced by her own training. As the story of TRAPPED is also like a fairytale, the use of ballet in the choreography is really appropriate to the style of the whole production.
2) TRAPPED explores emotions and here we see how movement is used to show the emotion of despair. This sequence uses everyday gestures and recognisable movements like shaking of the hands, beating fists and grabbing hair, but each action or gesture has been enlarged and exaggerated and the sequence is performed with a heavy, sustained and smooth quality with sudden drops and stretches. This really gives a heightened sense of the despair that the characters are feeling.
3) This character is showing the emotion of disgust. The movements chosen to show this are gestures of flicking the hands as if dismissing or trying to brush something nasty away, and holding the hand up as if stopping or saying no. The gestures have been exaggerated and are repeated in different directions around the body. The dancers torso and legs also take on a flicking, brushing quality with some sharp changes in direction and stops. The characters’ facial expression also clearly expresses the feeling of disgust.
4) In this section we can see how well the space has been used to help to communicate an idea. The Mother and the Daughter are trying to escape and are being chased by the two ‘Tricksters’. The characters use the whole space, travelling in straight lines, and with sharp changes of direction as if running through the corridors of the building. The tricksters appear suddenly and stop them or cut them off. Playing with the distance between characters and the different pathways and directions really gives the sense of a terrifying chase through a building.
5) Later in the escape section, the Daughter is caught up in an intense whirlwind of emotions. The characters show this by dancing round and round in a circle, which makes them look trapped. The Daughter eventually steps out of the circle and moves away from the others and off the stage to watch from the edge of the audience. This is a really clear way to show that she has managed to separate herself from the emotions for a moment and can stand back, reflect and take control.
6) In this opening section from the show, all four dancers are in contact together in order to show specific characters and the relationships between them – here, the Daughter as a baby, growing up with the Mother. Throughout the show, the Tricksters manipulate each character and each scene and so here it is as if they are in the background, lifting or moulding and helping to create each mother and child image.