Saturday, December 08, 2007

Untitled Blog Post (No. 384)

What a difference a title makes

Motus had a performance last night at IDADA's First Friday at the Harrison Center. It was a really cool piece with four dancers. The set was two wintry trees -- painted white, no leaves, just branches -- and a large clear plastic tarp. In the second half of the performance, three of the dancers got under the plastic tarp while the fourth poured a viscous blue fluid over their outstretched, almost beseeching, tarp-covered hands. The blue goo ran down over the tarp and the last three minutes of the piece was with the tarp raised vertically, the lights cut, and the performers shining flashlights on the trickling goo. It was really cool, and way cooler than I can describe here.

But! What this entry is about is not the dance piece, but rather my experience. By the end of the piece, I had assigned all manner of meaning to the three dancers and the somehow-differentiated fourth -- to the extent that the message that I took away from the piece was the somewhat bleak "God is a human construct, and faith is an illusion."

Well!

Between the first time I watched the show and the second, I learned that the piece is actually titled "Trees In Winter." So, I guess maybe I read a little too much into it.

And when I saw the piece for the second time, knowing then that the title was "Trees In Winter," I experienced it completely differently. The choreography and everything -- except for the random chaos of the trickling goo -- was completely identical. But my experience of the piece was different because I knew its title.

The same thing happened with someone I met between performances. I was sitting at our information table with Carol, another board member, when some friends of hers arrived. She introduced me to Beth and Noel, and we shook hands and traded pleasantries. After they sat down, Carol informed me that Beth is her boss, and all of a sudden I viewed our exchange in a completely different light. We had talked about their work, and I got a little worried that I'd said something dumb not knowing Carol and Beth's relationship...

Anyway, now I'm all up into what it means that things change when I know what they're called. What do you think of that?

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