All three art forms are very similar, music, drama and dance. Between these three art forms there are many links; the similarities being uses of canon, motifs, unison, rhythm, dynamics, space and dialogue. However there are differences between the art forms but they work together to enhance the theatrical and musical effect; these being the use of tension, pace and dynamics. This essay will be referring to my own practical work.
The first drama lesson was focused on Greek Chorus. The way a group works together to become one body to narrate a story is very important, so we took a passage from the play OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles and physicalised phrases within the text in small groups.
“Then we beheld the woman hanging there,
A running noose entwined about her neck.
But when he saw her, with a maddened roar
He loosed the cord; and when her wretched corpse
Lay stretched on earth, what followed-O ’twas dread!
We stood in a semi-circle and the person speaking stood in the centre of the formation and spoke one line whilst the outer people acted out parts of the line, e.g. on the line Then we beheld the woman hanging there, the outside formation pretended to be dead and hanging by letting their head flop backwards while the rest of their body was loose and floppy. After practising a few times we added sound effects from a spring drum to add tension and make the scene more dramatic.
The links between this piece of work and the other art forms are that the words of the passage were spoken in a rhythmic way almost like a spoken song. The actions performed by the outer formation of the semi-circle were all in unison, choreographed like a dance piece. The way that the rhythm and pace worked with the physicality of movements and sound created an enhanced effect.
GHOST DANCES was a piece created and choreographed by Christopher Bruce in 1981. The piece was created based on the people who were threatened by General Pinochet a man who overthrew the Chilean Government and ran an oppressive regime in 1973. People who opposed Pinochet were murdered; according to various reports and investigations, between 1200 to 3200 people were killed, up to 80,000 were interned, and up to 30,000 were tortured by his regime including women and children.
We learnt two motifs that were very common in GHOST DANCES, the squat motif and the line motif. We then looked at the animalistic movements within the dance and created our own individually. After that we got into small groups and put the animalistic movements together with the two motifs, whilst adding in some key movements (balances, jumps, stillness etc.) and then developed it slowly. Then we listened to three different pieces of music and picked one to fit our dance round. My group picked the last piece of music played because it emphasised a particular point in our dance which needed to be.
The links between this piece of work and the other art forms are that developing the animalistic movements was similar to creating a character using stereotypical actions of the chosen animal. We experimented with travelling in different directions, being in unison or canon and changing the pace to fit the desired mood of the dance. Adding layers to the dance was similar to adding layers in a song, bit by bit fitting it round the existing piece creating an enhanced outcome.
Slavery of the African American people occurred from 1619 – 1895. Rural slaves used to stay after the regular worship services, in churches or in plantation “praise houses”, for singing and dancing. But, slaveholders did not allow dancing and playing drums, as usual in Africa. They also had meetings at secret places (“camp meetings”, “bush meetings”), because they needed to meet one another and share their joys, pains and hopes. In rural meetings, thousands of slaves were gathered together and they listened to travelling preachers, and sang spirituals, for hours. The song WADE IN THE WATER, according to many internet sources and popular books, claim that spirituals such as this contained plain instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and the route to take to successfully make their way to freedom. This particular song allegedly recommends leaving dry land and taking to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off the slaves’ trail.
Wade in the water.
Wade in the water, children.
Wade in the water.
God’s gonna trouble the water.
Over the past few weeks, we have been singing a variety of spirituals and have been looking at the features of them, such as call and response and syncopation. With this, we started to improvise our own piece using a repeated motif of music as a background and singing single bar phrases with nonsense syllables individually. Then we got into little groups, taking a short motif we had already learnt and devised a short piece of music based around this motif using nonsense syllables to make sure we concentrated on the melody, harmonies and layers.
The links between this piece of work and the other art forms are the fact that we improvise to repeated motifs of music, for example the 12-bar-blues which is similar to improvising to and around a short dance motif. There is a specific link between spirituals and the dance piece Ghost Dances. Both art forms contain intense emotion, layers and types of characters, which leads to the fact that choreographing a dance is not dissimilar to creating a piece of music.
EAST is a play by Steven Berkoff written in 1975 all about dealing with growing up and rites of passage in London’s rough East End.
We looked at the 25th anniversary version of EAST to get a feel of the uses of mime, melodrama and character types. We created a little scene called ‘Gun in the Drawer’ and did it to a rhythm of bars of eight. Then we developed it by adding three different points of repetition to enhanced the melodramatic side, and subsequently put it to the preset music of scene two from EAST, a mime sequence where Mike comes to meet Sylv and her parents. Sylv is attracted to Les and a fight breaks out. After that, we looked at the very beginning text dialogued by Mike and Les explaining how they met and describing a fight between them over Mike’s girl Sylv. We individually chose a line from the duologue and heavily physicalised it.
LES: It’s soft, it’s gooey … but choose it I did not … in my Mother’s hot womb did she curse this name on me … it’s my handle … under the soft – it’s spiky, under the pillow it’s sharp … concealed instrument … offensive weapon lies waiting.
MIKE: Oh, he doth bestride Commercial Road like a Colossus … that’s my manor … where we two first set our minces on each other … and those Irish yobs walk under our huge legs and peep about for dishonourable bother … he’s my mucker, china or mate.
The links between this piece of work and the other art forms are that the words were spoken rhythmically like a song, e.g. its sharp was spoken staccato to accentuate the words. Music was added for effect and to add more tension to the piece along with changes in levels and speed of both movements and words spoken. In the mime piece, the actions were ‘choreographed’ to a rhythm of eight bar phrases like a dance which helped create a further feel of heightened physicality.
All three art forms are very similar, music, drama and dance. Between these three art forms there are many links; both similarities and differences – the differences working together to enhance the theatrical and musical effects.
Using my own practical work as examples, I can see that the different art forms can be used within each other to create tension, or just to enhance it along with pace and dynamics.