While re-staging The Grass is Always Greener… during my fellowship at CAVE this year, I found myself fascinated again by use of quotidian gestures—the gestures that make up our daily lives and influence our interactions with the people around us. Throughout The Grass… you will see gestures plucked from the ordinary events that help make life meaningful. The dance is also filled with gestures that exist outside of particular events and have acquired meaningful associations through everyday use, such as obscene gestures or gestures of friendship, love, and family. These gestures represent a space where community can come together to experience collective sorrow, joy, and nostalgia.
Francois Delsarte, whose method of connecting inner emotional states with gesture influenced a legion of pioneer modern dancers, explored the principle that motion creates emotion just as emotion can be a source for creating motion. Likewise, I feel that watching meaningful gestures has the power to fill the viewer with myriad emotions and act as a source for emotional reflection and investigation.
Delsarte wrote, “Every gesture is expressive of something…It is preceded by and given birth by a thought, a feeling, an emotion, a purpose, a design or a motive.” Each gesture is created and preceded by an inner thought or emotional state, which is influenced by one’s cultural heritage. In The Grass… I have relied on many folk gestures as well as gestures from Argentinean Tango and other traditional dances. These folk dances explore the idea that culturally created movements are made meaningful through habitual practice. In the every society one finds series of routine gestures, which sociologist Pierre Bourdieu explains through his theory of habitus. Habitus describes the acquired forms of thought and action that one builds into bodily practice through living and learning in a particular culture. Eventually these repetitive motions become habituated. However, individual movement within a society constantly transforms even the most habitual motion. Thus, one can see quotidian gesture as both subjective and objective, created from within and simultaneously imposed from without, creating the space around us and filling it with meaning. The gestures built into The Grass… explore this tension between inner thought and outward expression, creating a richly layered movement vocabulary that comes to life onstage.