Comparative Studies- Love, Literature, and Dance

Love in Literature- comparative studies 3603; finally an excuse to find time in my day to read. This class is interesting; the novels we read offer many different facets of love and it’s great to compare the novels and the ideas of my other class mates to my own understanding and experience in love. We have to give a presentation on analyzing love in another context other than literature. My partner Kevin and I decided to analyze a dance (obviously I kind of decided this, but Kevin was gung-ho). Many people underestimate the impact that the body, movement, and our kinesthetic physicality can have on our relationships, so by showing a dance about love, without telling them it is about love and muting the music that explicitly says “love”, we are able to show them that body language and movement is just as effective in portraying love as spoken or written text. We analyzed the piece Inevitable Poison choreographed by Ca’La Henderson. Below is the paper I wrote on this presentation….

Choreography and concept: Ca’La Henderson
Dancers: Madison Kessler, Tadas Varaneckas, Callie Lacinski
The Ohio State University- Barnett Theater

Love in Body Language
“By using evocative adjectives and verbs novelists strive to portray the physicality of love in their stories not only because it is seductive to the reader, but also because it is necessary in accurately depicting a love between characters. Since the physicality of love is so important in its recognition, we as humans can recognize love in the absence of spoken or written text based on both our inherent knowledge of what love is in the physical sense and the social cues we have learned throughout our lives.
Kevin and I decided to analyze the dance Inevitable Poison choreographed by Ca’la Henderson based on our ability to detect love through our instinctual physical reactions. This dance is figurative and clearly tells a story; the music choice, the dancers’ emotions, and, most importantly, the movement choices convey to us a love story. Kevin and I decided to disregard the music leaving the only context to be the three dancers’ movement and emotional output. We, as humans, can recognize love in body language and movement based on our instinctual reactions to love and being able to recognize that in other people. Certain movements that the dancers do mimic the guttural reactions one feels when hurt by the person they love; when looking longingly at Madison dancing with Tadas, Callie’s chest concaves and her shoulders slump as she lets her head hang. This is a very real movement that everyone can relate to when they feel hurt or betrayed in a relationship, and neither words nor text are needed for it to be understood.
Another reason we can so easily tell this dance is about love is that we have learned overtime that certain social cues means two people are in a loving relationship. There is a point in the dance where Tadas cradles Madison and joyously spins her around then proceeds to spin and dip her like a classic waltz dance. We know from romantic comedy movies, classic love novels, and watching people in everyday life that when people share a ballroom dance they are usually romantically involved. This situation is no different; without having to be told they are a couple dancing this amorous waltz we can simply see it and automatically register that this is a couple and they are in love. This small snippet of the dance also portrays the other side of a loving relationship, or the “barriers” as Joseph Campbell calls them. Callie and Tadas engage in a sort of fight scene where Callie goes to hit Tadas then desperately flings herself into his arms; a sure sign of emotional conflict. There are many instances in social media, reality dating shows and romantic comedy movies that we see women attack their lover in a rage of emotion then immediately begin sobbing from emotional conflict. In watching the dance, we know Callie and Tadas are not simply platonic because platonic relationships are not portrayed as volatilely in our social world.
Movement and body language are powerful in portraying love because they are indispensable in the act of creating and making love. It is our ability to recognize social cues in love and our instinctual knowledge of kinesthetic physicality in regards to love that makes it possible for us to read the story of this dance without the lyrics in the song or a written text describing the piece. ”

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