[-empyre-] Agreement within difference

Ashley Ferro-Murray aferromurray at gmail.com
Fri May 15 02:09:18 EST 2009

Hi Nora,

The fact that "alignment" comes from the working practices of the
company is incredibly interesting to me. In practice, alignments and
"sync-ups" in particular are important to choreographic direction,
keeping time among dancers and creating a structure within a larger
piece. I think this relates directly to my earlier comments on
repetition, multiplicity and layering within choreography, programming
and philosophical argument. Although alignments give us a practical
architecture, I am curious what we lose philosophically when we direct
our attention toward the alignment.

OFTr is infinitely fragmented and broken down into segments, breaths,
phrases, stretches etc. What I find as I watch the visualization,
though, is that I begin to miss a nuance that lies in between
alignment. What connects alignments seems to stand as the heart of the
piece. Luckily, the user is given several ways to visualize or mark
OFTr. Each one could give us a different visualization and a different
way to consider what comes around the alignment. This gestures toward
the possibility that in each moment and even in between each moment
lies a different potentiality not only for movement, but also for
alignment, whether intentional or not.

I am curious what happens in a piece without alignment? Or, is it
possible to have one? What about a specific rupture in aligned
structure? Perhaps this is simply marked differently. Each time,
though, we loose site of what happens around what is marked.
Practically speaking, though, this is how we watch a piece. My eye is
drawn toward something and I follow it. Then I zoom back out until
something else catches my attention. Each time I focus on one
particular aspect of a piece my potential experience increases.
Interestingly, this seems to be the beauty of the project. As Stamatia
suggested last week, the piece is infinitely divisible. I am curious
how you decided what would be marked in the visualizations and what
would not. How did you philosophize what is lost in visualization?


On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 8:14 AM, Norah Zuniga Shaw <zuniga.11 at osu.edu> wrote:
> Our choreographic resource for our work is One Flat Thing, reproduced
> (OFTr), an ensemble dance that examines and reconfigures classical
> choreographic principles of counterpoint. In OFTr counterpoint is defined as
> ³a field of action in which the intermittent and irregular coincidence of
> attributes between organizational elements produces an ordered interplay."
> Three structural systems interact to create the counterpoint of the dance:
> movement material, cueing, and alignments. These systems are detailed in our
> introductory essays on the site. I'd like to share more about alignments
> here because they are fundamental to how we conceive of, enact, and theorize
> counterpoint. The visual languages we created really do express this stuff
> best but here are a few experts from the words we use as
> anchors/frames/coordinates. Bill and I evolved this vocabulary together over
> a few years in intensive writing sessions and in our working practices with
> the team at OSU in creating the visualizations. Alignments are short
> instances of synchronization between dancers in which their actions share
> some, but not necessarily all, attributes. Manifested as analogous shapes,
> related timings, or corresponding directional flows, alignments occur in
> every moment of the OFTr and are constantly shifting throughout the group.
> The term alignment emerges from the working practices of the Forsythe
> Company. Other words the company uses to describe this phenomenon include
> hook-ups, agreements, and isometries. Within the thousands of alignments in
> the choreography, approximately 200 can be understood as a subset called
> sync-ups. These are moments in the choreography when a dancer¹s task is to
> briefly join with another individual or group. Alignments are a concrete
> phenomenon in the dance and also a construct that I'm finding useful in
> thinking about understanding complex relationships in many arenas and
> specifically in interdisciplinary collaboration.
> A great tool for interactively exploring how we think about counterpoint and
> alignments is the Counterpoint Tool on the site:
> http://synchronousobjects.osu.edu/tools/counterpointTool.html
> Thoughts?
> N
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Ashley Ferro-Murray
MA/PhD Student
Dept. Theater, Dance & Performance Studies
University of California, Berkeley

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