Daily Archives: December 12, 2008 9:14 am

Advent 12: Being & Time

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Spot the choreographer and dancers from Paris & Atlanta in this plastique animé

A game of musical statues. Can you spot the choreographer and dancers from Paris & Atlanta?

Following on from the theme of being put right by friends, this one concerns a 7-hour argument with Chris which ended up with me having to rethink space and time. Damn!

It all started with a section from Chris’s ballet Canciones, which had elements of flamenco in it. He was explaining how the dancers had to accent certain counts in a phrase of 12 – let’s say it’s 1, 5, 7, 8, 11. “What a bizarre way of explaining it”, I countered. “Why don’t you just teach them to do this?”, proceeding to copy the rhythmic pattern that resulted from the accents he’d just identified, and repeat it with (dare I say it) consummate ease.

“But it’s not the same” he said. “Yes it is”, I argued back, doing my pattern again.

“No it’s not – you’re viewing time like musicians do, as cyclical. But for a dancer, it’s not, it’s linear.”

Bearing in mind that the argument took 7 hours, I probably can’t do it justice here, but the point on which it hinged was that a dancer needed to know where they were and what they were doing on a particular count in a phrase, it wasn’t enough for that count to be a recurring point relative to a repeating cycle of beats. The argument took place on the little balcony at the back of my old flat in Mandrake Road, and I can’t think of problems in space and time without remembering what it felt like to thrash them out there. If you’ve got seven hours, I could go into more detail.

Oddly enough, this is another topic that made even more sense when I read Raymond Monelle’s The Sense of Music, in particular the stuff about Henri Bergson and his theory of duration.  And that’s saying something.