Dance Observation Paper

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Ashley Duke
Dance History
Observation Paper

Wendell Tyler Cooper: Disembodied

For my observation paper I will be writing about the Wendell Tyler Cooper performance Disembodied on February 11, 2011. What was interesting was that the entire performance he danced alone on stage and was still able to make the show dynamic and continuous. The performance incorporated dance, music and video; it also had a spiritual sense to it which reminded me of a passage in Black Dance From 1619 to Today by Lynne Emery (Chapter 1, page 2) referring to “religious dance forms”. Wendell Cooper also included other aspects with video, music, and speaking; it seemed to me as if he was reading poetry or some type of spoken word. The movement was very grounded and earthy, there were no restrictions and he was barely upright without a curve in the spine. Some more characteristics that are similar to the movement mentioned before is the African characteristics by Magaretta Bobo Goins which include: bent knees, barefoot, generally movement begins in torso and travels outward, rhythms are syncopated, singing and dancing simultaneously.

Later I learned from description of the performance Disembodied that Wendell Cooper “utilized his knowledge of energy-bodywork and meditation to create a synaesthetic installation/performance environment”, which now I understand why I kept getting a sense of spirituality or religion in some of his movement. The breathing and speaking or spoken word and repetitive movement was very reminiscent of a statement in a passage in To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans by Colin A. Palmer, “Religious ideas determined the timing of important occasions…the nature of art and dance, and a thousand other aspects.” Due to the nature of meditation that Wendell Cooper studied he was able to incorporate that ideal into his choreography and it can read as religious, spiritual, or simply complicated choreography and is very...
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