"Who is and is not allowed to speak?" This is the question posited by philosopher Victoria Spelman in her incisive and witty analysis of the mind/body split and the consequent implications for dance. Spelman concludes that together dance and words might be even more powerful.
Obviously, choreographers Liz Lerman, Sally Nash, Tish Carter and Nancy Galeota agree. They joined Spelman last night at the new D.C. Arts Center for an informal concert/discussion which featured choreography built on and accompanied by texts. Lerman explained that the concert had been generated by deeply felt audience response to her works which utilize words -- response which has been both positive and vehemently opposed. She was, she said, interested in what it was about this issue that made people react so strongly one way or the other.
Each choreographer chose to explore the problem in very different ways. Carter and Galeota used words sporadically throughout their "Chair Dance" as a conversation of which the audience could only catch snatches. With the whispering of words so that sound dominated meaning, Nash evoked the presence of a dead person, in effect by "toning down reality." Lerman's choreography to Peter Handke's "Self Accusation" employed words to "fill in the abstraction" of text in introducing other means by which the listener could grasp verbal imagery.
Following the concert, a discussion with audience members involved the combining of words and movement to focus all the faculties toward one end, and on the performer's ability to more fully mobilize all the body's resources.