Generating Movement- Ongoing Exploration of New Ideas

by Marjorie Malerk

1. What sources of stimulation have you used to generate movement (i.e. text, pictures, research, visualizations, sounds, experiences, etc)?

Historical descriptions of dancers in the Middle East as well as Oriental paintings and sculptures. Research into the subject and taking classes to learn more about the culture and the people’s use of movement.

2. Within these sources, what specific elements have you honed in on (i.e. texture, emotional content from readings or interviews, words, sound quality, colors, etc)?

Sometimes emotional content from the descriptions of the dance, but mostly trying to capture the social/cultural aspect of the people whose dances I am trying to create. Sometimes the sound quality and rhythmic patterns of the music.

3. What role has improvisation played in your process of generating movement? What value has improvisation brought in unearthing rich material?

When I use non-traditional music, traditional movements do not always work and have to be modified based on timing and rhythmic structures of the alien music. This generates some unique looking movements that catch the audiences’ attention. The movements look oriental, but they aren’t. Since I do creative departures, this is often very necessary and gives my work a signature look.

4. How have you incorporated task structures into your process of generating movement? Can you give an example of a task you’ve used?

When creating prop dances, I first have to learn how to use the prop. Then learn what the Middle Easterners do with this prop and its significance in their culture. If this prop is used in our culture, I learn how is it used alike and differently. Then I decide on what music do I want to use. Traditional or nontraditional? As the movement phrases and technique begin to evolve, I have to make some serious decisions about costuming. What type of costume will work with the prop? Some types of costumes will prevent certain elements in the choreography and will interfere with the prop’s movement.

5. What kinds of investigation go into your subject before and while you are generating movement? How does this investigation guide, shape, inform your movement choices?

I play around with movement, watch other dancers and dance technique videos, as well as have my dancers play with the music and see what they come up with. This can generate new ideas and directions to explore.

6. When reviewing movement you’ve generated, what are general criteria you are looking for to determine its relevance and/or place in a particular work?

The most important criteria for me, is if the movement feels natural and not contrived. If it isn’t logical or natural to the piece, it doesn’t look or feel right and it causes problems for the dancers. Second, did I accomplish my objectives. Does it express the motivation of the people?

7. How do you deal with movement tendencies? Do you ever feel pressure to come up with fresh movement? What strategies do you use to address and/or overcome that pressure? What strategies have and/or do you use to find fresh ways of moving?

How do you deal with movement tendencies? I constantly try to learn new movements and explore new ideas. I collect technique and variations like others collect stamps.
Do you ever feel pressure to come up with fresh movement? Yes, after 30+ years of choreographing, I sometimes feel stagnant.
What strategies do you use to address and/or overcome that pressure? Explore what other dancers are doing in all styles of dance. I always come up with something new to add to my movement collection even if it is a different arrangement of the same moves.
What strategies have and/or do you use to find fresh ways of moving? The best way is to get up and move around. I also look at photos, watch videos or performances, go back over my dance seminar notes, and just ponder about movement combinations. When I get a new combo idea, I get up and dance it until I master it.