Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Popomo face

A student I've gotten to know quite well over several courses is a Dance major, and a work she choreographed was shown at the recent showing of seniors' work. In the midst of generally serious and opaque pieces, hers was startlingly accessible. Her piece last year was among the most serious and opaque, but this time we were treated to five hula hoops (one of them with rippling lights) and four dancers, all of them smiling infectiously. Hula hoops on a postmodern dance stage?

Just bringing them would have been shocking enough, she told me today - their very presence clearly made several people in our so sophisticated Dance program uneasy. This just made her smile even more broadly. She'd danced with hoops while in high school; they're apparently very common in music festivals, too. Decidedly not "high art." But that's what made a hula hoop dance so interesting in this context. Transgressive!

The smiles, too. I asked her about them, and she confirmed that the broad smiles were - while spontaneous - part of the choreography. Most dancers are supposed to have blank faces ("neutral" since it's a fiction to believe in "natural" expression) which they sometimes refer to as "pomo face." She thinks that's as contrived and elitist as the "modernism" the postmodernists are trying to call in question. ;)

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