From the class, How Movement Makes Meaning, choreography has been defined in various ways. These are: vision translated into motion, transference of embodied knowledge, structure, design, relationship, movements with intent, and sequence. Although the definitions are limited to single phrases and words, they reveal the fact that choreography can be viewed in various ways. However, it is interesting to find out from Danielle Goldman’s book, I want To Be Ready, that choreography is seen to play a role in political contexts. Choreography is therefore, connected to protest movements, and while not seen as it is in dance, choreographic elements are deemed significant.
Firstly, Goldman introduces the author of “Choreographing Postcoloniality: Reflections on the Passing of Edward Said”, Barbara Browning, who explores “the dangers of referring to figures such as C.L.R. James, Franzt Fanon, and Mahatma Gadhi as choreographers.” Although her definition of who a choreographer may be is not mentioned, Browning’s book title connects choreography to the political ideology of post colonialism. The figures mentioned are also well known in relation to political and social movements, which means that choreography takes a different position in this context unlike in dance. In fact, Goldman states that Browning spoke of a “choreographic force” with regards to Gandhi’s march on the Dharasana Salt Works. Goldman then provides the evidence for this fact in Browning’s words, stating that, “Nonviolent noncooperation requires a technique of the body which in many ways resembles what contemporary choreographers refer to as ‘release technique’-but in the charged context of civil disobedience, the movement technique has intense political as well as spiritual ramifications…” Firstly, what Browning means by nonviolent noncooperation, which is directly related to Gandhi’s march, is showing opposition to acts or policies of the government by refusing to participate in civic and political life or to obey governmental regulations. Thus, the choreographic element that Browning believes is involved in such a match is a well thought movement that prepares the protestors for the intense political situations they engage with. A well thought movement because it is related to the ‘release technique,’ which is a focus on breath, skeletal alignment, joint articulation, and the use of gravity and moment to articulate an efficient movement in contemporary dance. This is to mean that in a different way from dance, choreography helps protestors to prepare their body for the protests. In a violent situation, it would be to safeguard their bodies from brutality from say, the policemen, and in non-violent situations, they plan out how they would lay out their demonstrations to read meaning into their movements. The aspects of planning a structure or physically preparing are the choreographic elements that Browning touches upon. Hence, the term does not just apply in the contexts of dance, and Goldman makes that the most significant point by incorporating Browning’s ideas.
Having defined the term in class, I was intrigued by its application in Goldman’s book, which brings in a new perspective to the term. Hence, that it can be used in a wide range of contexts, or that its elements can be seen in other situations. It is interesting to see the connection that Goldman makes between dance techniques and social and political movements, which is something that resonates what our learning in class is all about as we explore the relationship between dance and activism.
Goldman, Danielle. 2010. I Want To Be Ready: Improvised Dance as a Practice of Freedom. United States of America: The University of Michigan Press, Cambridge English Dictionary Accessed 5 Jan 2018. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/fluidity. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition "Perception." Accessed 6 Jan 2018. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/perception.
A few comments about writing issues. First of all, an article – Danielle Goldman cites Barbara Browning’s article – is set off in quotation marks. A book title is in italics. You seem to have that backward in this essay. I get the point of the essay, but the argument is laid out in a confusing manner. I believe what you are trying to point to is that social protest HAS choregraphic elements, but those function differently than they do in a dance performance. The point about release technique in dance is that it prepares the body for another to try and seize it — and it allows the person who practices it to understand what to do in that situation to safeguard their body.
Both violent and non violent protests are choreographed – you could say my syllabus is a choreography or a plan for our movement, just as armies choreograph their plan of attack and non-violent protesters plan how they will deploy a public demonstration to read meaning into their movements. But what Goldman points out is that one particular technique of dance – contact improvisation – prepares a protestor for the moment when her or his body is grabbed by a representative of the state – like a policeman – and that the person is prepared to position her or his body in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelmed or traumatized by the experience.
Dance can “rehearse” how to prepare for that situation. That is what Goldman explains is the preparation for being “ready.”