hypertext dissertation - by Robyn Stuart

Nonlinear Dance

Dance is usually exhibited linearly. Although the sequential structure may incorporate flexibility and vary between performances. The 'dance' or 'work' itself may be nonlinear, while the 'Performance' is linear. Cunningham was one of the first to create such 'dance-work' (Cage in Cunningham website, 2005, McPherson and Fildes 2004a). In order for an audience member to experience this nonlinearity they have to attend several performances of the same piece. Now, new technology of the internet and CDRoms support creating and viewing nonlinear dance much more easily (, 2004; McPherson and Fildes, 2004b, 'The Truth The Truth' 2004 and 'Big' 2002), e.g. viewing several versions or weaving one's own path of viewing, of a performance in one sitting via the internet or on CDRom ('Emotions in Man' 2004). The viewing is linear, but the understood experience of connections is of a web of relationships.

Rhizomes III was performed with a single gross linear structure. This was not our initial intention, as our Vc technology can be operated in real time in a nonlinear manner, reacting to dancers' or audience, or Vc operator decisions during performance. However in Rhizomes III, within each scene there was a degree of nonlinearity inherent in the structure, as the Vc and Pc both followed structured improvisation scores and had leeway to find new relationships in a web of possibilities. Generally the pace of each scene in Rhizomes III followed the dancers' timing (but, the dancers were aware of the Vc and as much as possible related their movement to the Vc). However, the timing of cutting between scenes (e.g. cutting between Entangled Interquirk, Escher Duet 1 and Escher Duet 2) or changing to the next scene (e.g. Trio Pendulum Swing) was mostly controlled by the Vc (in response to the Pc) This timing changed between performances. In this manner, the duration of the piece varied between 35 and 45 minutes. Thus Rhizomes III flowed differently each time it was performed (not shown in this dissertation), although the sequence of scenes was the same.

Rhizomes III was created in a manner which allowed for non-linearity in the gross structure (or as I call it 3rd or 4th order structuring) as well as in the fine within scene structure (or as I call it 1st or 2nd order structuring). The three performances of Rhizomes III were not varied, because the flexibility in the fine structure was enough for our dancers to cope with, and because much more research is needed before Curson and I can manipulate the gross structure in an aesthetically fulfilling manner. Expected emergent properties, which would tie the piece together did not appear to take form easily, so we opted for controlling the sequence of scenes.

Despite the overall structure of Rhizomes III being stable, the creation and development of Rhizomes III was an exercise in 'thinking in networks' as demonstrated in the game of Rhizomopoly. Rhizomes III was created from a series of 'independently' choreographed scenes, which were juggled and intercut in a wide variety of ways, prior to finalising the performance version. I searched for the emergence of a unifying 'narrative'.

In Rhizomes III the Vc-Pc relationship demonstrated a web of connections between scenes by the use of parallel cutting between two or more scenes, and using Vc transitions to visibly demonstrate relationships between 'worlds' or models, for example by finding at the end of Rhizomes III that the Trees existed around the Escher Cube which existed within the Swiss Cheese which existed within the Surreal World, and that the Surreal world and GSVII lay side by side. The use of virtual imagery also allows relationships and connections to be irrational and bizarre.

This possibility for a non-logical web of connections fascinates me. Human relationships are often irrational and the world/society we live in is often perceived as full of contradictions. Escher (, Giger (Taschen, 1996) and Dali (Neret and Descharnes, 2001) beautifully exemplify this in their paintings. Using Fuzzy Logic, Complexity Theory can also encapsulate this idea of connecting a web comprising elements, which would ordinarily contradict each other in classical maths or physics (Lucas, 2002c).

For me as a choreographer Rhizomes exists as a series of scenes which can still be intercut and re-arranged to create other versions in 'performance' (Rhizomes IV?), and with further research might portray new relationships, webs of connections and evolve unexpected emergent (unifying) properties/ characteristics/ 'narrative'.

2.2 Home Page, 'Beginning', Conclusion, Acknowledgements, References, Rhizomes Performances, Performances as References

alKamie are members of Chisenhale Dance Space.
© copyright all material alKamie 2001-2014