TOOLS OF DANCE
As basic to dance as it is to life, form is always present. Everything has a form or a structure, even if it is not readily visible or understood. Form is present throughout the natural world, in the rings of a tree, the veins in a leaf, the formation of a hurricane, as it is in all of life's cycles and stages of development. The universal pattern of day alternating with night, the eruption of a volcano, the life cycle of a caterpillar, the growth of a tree. These are examples of natural forms that demonstrate a beginning, middle, and end. Form does not have to follow this type of progression or even show contrast. It can be about only one thing, such as daydreaming on a dock on a pond. A form can have a single heightened moment, waiting for something to happen, a phone ringing. Form binds a piece of art and makes it cohere with an internal logic. Form can function as both the messenger and the message. When used well, form grows with and supports the dance’s theme, producing an organic structure which the dance, ideas and format all complement. We create forms to create order in our lives, to help us understand things that would otherwise be harder to grasp. Think of a night sky filled with stars. We identify the constellation Cassiopeia, easily seen by the form of its W shape. We like to make patterns. What doesn’t have form?
ORACLE: MULTIPLE FORMS ON DISPLAY
The most common forms in dance come from musical forms. A form can have an AB format, A representing one idea followed by B, something different. A dance may follow an ABA form, beginning and ending similarly with a contrasting middle section. A rondo further extends the form with other sections, such as ABACADA. Canon is a type of form, which you can learn more about below. Theme and Variation is another type of common form, which our Guide to Making Dance presents in visual detail. In this excerpt from Oracle Daniel narrates the numerous uses of form which are on display.
THE CAROUSEL DANCE
You can find another example of how form is used in The Carousel Dance, created for a group of elementary school students and four Company dancers during a residency at The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard in 2001. The form of the dance mirrors the form of the music. When the music repeats, the dance repeats. The dance’s form, mostly, a circle, supports and suggests the image of the dance’s title, a merry-go-round.
Framework is a dance that was produced with six second grade students and six Company dancers. Commissioned for 2009’s In The Studio series at New York City Center, this ensemble dance was choreographed to highlight the various forms one can find in dance: from circles of varying sizes to intersecting lines to dancing with a partner, the duet form.