Gravity of Center

This short film is directed by Thibaut Duverneix, French artist and Fine Arts honours graduate[1] and American Victor Quijada, former resident choreographer at Place des Arts (Montreal).[2]  When I found the video, I read the accompanying summary, which states:

“Gravity of Center is a poetic investigation of the herd vs. pack mentality, the dichotomy of abundance and scarcity, and the inner conflict between social assimilation vs. the need for individualism.[3]

With these words in mind, I viewed the piece and therefore I didn’t have a chance to find my own interpretation, but I will comment on how the summary is reflective of this dance piece.

I found that the exploration around the theme of “the internal conflict between social assimilation vs the need for individualism” was a success.  The solo dance performed at the eight minute mark is one example of this, but there are several.  The dancer, prior to this, demonstrates her desire to emancipate from the group (pack or herd).  Once she does remove herself, the joy she feels is evident, but she seems so fragile, so conflicted about her newfound freedom… it really resonated with me.  It did so because I have had this feeling in the past, and I told myself that everybody must have felt that way because, I believe it to be a normal feeling when we grow as adults and change our bonds.  Leaving the family, moving short or long distances, people often have these mixed emotions as they move, form new groups and connections, etc.

I found also interesting how the dancers interpret the differences between the herd and the pack. It becomes clear as we watch the performers that in the outdoor setting (which I see as the herd), the people are supportive of eachother, allowing various individuals to come forward to lead from time to time, curious but cautious.  In contrast, within the pack (which I believe is represented by the indoor scenes) the different beings are more aggressive, somewhat violent, stronger and more sure in their movements, and seemingly all “fighting” as one tries to ascend or break free.

Even if in general I loved the video, it was not clear how the notions of abundance and scarcity were explored or expressed.  I suppose the rich, wide open and endless space that was the outdoors, contrasted by the stark, confined and “empty” factory space may have some clues, but this was not as well articulated as the synopsis lead me to believe.  From a choreographic standpoint, from time to time I had difficulty finding the harmony between the dance movements and the music, especially in the opening scene.

That being said, I really appreciated the final scene: In my mind the pack finally accepted that one of its members will go on by herself. I’m not totally sure that it is what is represented here or if it is the opposite, and they ultimately rejected her, but I appreciate this being left as a sort of hanging question for the viewer.

In general, I really enjoyed this piece for its beautiful scenery, the incredible choreography, and because the mesmerizing dancers pulled me out of where I was when I started to watch it, into other episodes of my life.

[1] Thibaut Duverneix, film and interactive director, “ABOUT”, accessed November 08, 2014. http://www.thibautduverneix.com/filter/interactive/ABOUT.

[2] Victor Quijada, The Canadian Encyclopeadia, accessed November 15, 2014. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/victor-quijada/

[3] Vimeo, “Gravity of Center”, accessed November 13, 2014, https://vimeo.com/30708149.

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One thought on “Gravity of Center

  1. It is interesting to think about this piece in relation to Muybridge’s movement studies. These seemed most concerned with the hows of movement. Dance offers a more expressive study of movement that works very well in combination with video to convey narrative. For me, one of the most successful collaborative moments between the dance and the video took place in the middle of the piece when editing techniques were incorporated to make it seem like one dancer fluidly transformed into another. It is also interesting to think of this piece as a modern version of silent film. Despite having read your comments first and getting a sense of what the story is about, I still think the dance conveys the impression of someone trying to break away from a group. Like silent film, however, the narrative it conveys remains loose and largely emotional (which is something I actually quite enjoy on account of its interpretive freedom).

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