Nancy Garcia

I choreograph performance works at the intersection of dance and sound, and consider the human voice not just a source of sound, but also a form of movement. With this project, I worked with dancers individually on sound-making exercises and used video footage of the studio process as content for a multi-channel video installation that is a dance in itself.


Classes Thesis

My thesis project is a dance performance that takes the form of a multi-channel video installation. As a choreographer, I am interested in emphasizing process, distance and mediation to expand definitions of choreography in an age of electronic communication and physical displacement. The studio process for this project consisted of working with dancers on improvisational scores and vocal exercises, and the evidence of our labors is the content for the installation. With this project, I ask, How is this mediated experience of dance a live performance? How is the video installation a work of choreography?

In the installation, each performer is present via a video monitor whereas the performers were never in the same room together during the composition process. The performers activate the installation/performance space through their televisual presence, attempting to encourage the audience to move through the space via sound cues. Even when the dancer leaves the frame of the camera, the sound of their voice and physical activity is audible, foregrounding the production of presence through sound despite visual absence.

The performance as a whole is comprised of looping single channels, each a different duration. With each repetition, the channels fall in and out of phase with each other; a continued exploration of repetition as a form of change. Each single channel is also a portrait of each dancer. A brass name plate affixed to each monitor is engraved with information about the corresponding dancer.

Participants from NYC dance community were asked to vocalize lyrics and melodies from songs they knew, as well as songs chosen by me: Dawn Penn's "No, No, No" and "Fingerbib" by Aphex Twin. My interest was not that they exactly replicate the lyrics and melodies, but to see what they could recall from memory and create their own sound from the source material. Options for vocalizations were whispering, screaming, whistling, varying tempo, speed, loudness, and silence. Movement was minimal, as this is the initial phase of a larger body of work and study. The dancers were not asked to put dance steps together, rather, they were asked to do unaffected, pedestrian movement in relation to a video camera.

Based on a score written by me, we repeatedly reproducd and reconfigured sound and movement for the video camera, and used duration and repetition as compositional tools to create a short performance at the intersection of music and dance. In the final presentation of the 4 minute dance, the looping videos will play in concert simultaneously, with each loop producing a different sonic and video output, each considered a different section of the dance. With this project I ask, How is this mediated experience of dance a live performance?

My audience is two-fold. Dancers are my audience for the process/research portion of the project. General viewers are my audience for the installation portion of the project.

User Scenario
Every 15 minutes, users are welcomed into a curtained off area to watch the performance. I consider the video installation a performance. There is a definite starting point, which is all of the dancers on the monitors breathing together. Each video is a different length, similar in structure and duration, with varying sonic and visual content. The audience can stay as long as they want. End point of the performance has not yet been determined.

A schedule of the day's performances will be displayed outside of the curtained off area. Basically, the performance times will be about every 15-30 minutes. Viewers may come and go as they please during the performance. The curtained off area may only fit about 5-10 viewers at once.

-9 video monitors w/ sound output from AV lab
-9 looping DVDs
-9 DVD players
-dark, curtained off area
-space: about 12ft by 10ft
-9 pedestals
-black curtain material to cover pedestals

Developing a working practice is a crucial step in any artist’s career. My performance works will grow from the foundation laid by my methodology. Developing and sharing my process with dancers in the New York City community has given me the opportunity to articulate my ideas, knowledge and concepts, while garnering the respect of my peers. Some of the dancers who participated in this process have expressed that my methodology has given them a new perspective on their own movement practice.

I will be teaching a workshop at the Movement Research Festival 2008 this Summer in New York City, where I will continue to share the results of my research. Movement Research is an internationally revered experimental dance institution, and it is a possibly pivotal opportunity for my career as a teacher and performer.

Finally, I also dealt with the challenges involved with onsite video production and video post-production. With this project, it was crucial to capture high-quality live audio in an unobtrusive manner, to the dancer. I initially used the on-board camera mics, but found that the audio quality was poor. Using an overhead boom mic was out of the question because I am a one-person operation. I would have needed an assistant to run an overhead mic. In the end, I used the Sennheiser EW 100 G2 Wireless Lavalier system which captured excellent quality audio and gave me a range of amplification control.