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Dancer Liza Batkin ’15: Figuring it out

Choreography Andrea Miller (center, back to camera) talks with dancers including Liza Batkin '13 (striped shirt).

Harvard Arts Blog asked dancers to reflect on their experiences preparing for the Dance Program Spring Performance 8 p.m. March 28-30 at Farkas Hall. Guest blogger and dancer Liza Batkin ’15 lives in Adams House and is a literature concentrator. She has been working with guest choreographer Andrea Miller and OFA Dance Program director Jill Johnson for DPSP13.

During our first rehearsal, on a sunny and cold afternoon in late January, choreographer Andrea Miller had us play a game called Figuring It Out. Though hard to describe and harder to play, the game went something like this: Your partner strikes a pose. You approach the pose of your partner as if you are an alien and have never seen anything like it before. You use your body to “figure it out” without relying on familiar processes of synthesizing shapes.

The goal is to finish in the same pose as your partner, but only by assembling piecemeal her angles, directions and qualities. So, while as a human you see a straight arm with extended index- finger in one way, as an alien you might see the same arm as: leftward direction; strong intention; flat line; four fingers bunched; one finger straight.

We didn’t play it again after that first rehearsal, but Figuring It Out provided a model for the way that we would create and learn

Liza Batkin '15

movement in the weeks to follow. It demanded of us what Andrea’s process likewise demanded: that we consider wholes at the level of their parts; that we renovate our conceptions of shape; that we abandon instinct and search for the unfamiliar.

Jonathan Swift allegedly said that vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. Andrea’s artistic vision may be described in just this way. It occurred to me several times during rehearsal that she might, in fact, see in another dimension, because where I saw what was, she saw what might be, what could be, what should be and what wasn’t. Her creative process was a constant unearthing of the invisible; her creative products are truly sights to be seen.

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