Posts Tagged 'dance'

Dance, Dance, Baby!

Penn 3

I first met dance instructor Misty Owens last summer when she partnered with some of my colleagues to present movement-based workshops for visitors with special needs here at the DMA. She brought pool noodles, scarves, inspiring music, and a mesmerizing grace into the galleries, and it was so fun to watch her work with our visitors.

This past spring, I saw her in action once again when she brought her Dance for Parkinson’s Disease class to the Museum for regular visits. Her ability to communicate ideas through movement and encourage even the least-coordinated person (me!) to attempt some dance moves in the galleries is inspiring. The culminating performance for Misty’s Dance for PD group just happened to fall on the same day as a Toddler Art class I taught. As the children trickled out of our classroom space after class, they literally stumbled upon the dance group’s dress rehearsal. The toddlers were mesmerized! They spontaneously sat down on the carpet and became an impromptu audience as the dancers practiced their steps. There were huge smiles (on both the toddlers’ and the performers’ faces), and it sparked an idea—what would it be like to have Misty work with our littlest visitors?

Lucky for me, Misty is willing to try just about everything, and earlier this month, she was at the DMA once more, this time as a special guest teacher for the Art Babies class. The Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty exhibition served as our inspiration, and Misty led caregivers and babies in a lively exploration of Penn’s photography through movement.

We began by looking at Issey Miyake Fashion: White and Black. Misty and I were both taken by the fabric and thought that the peek-a-boo playfulness to the image seemed to be begging for some baby dance moves! Using lengths of stretchy white fabric, we experimented with making shapes with our bodies, played peek-a-boo, and created living sculptures around the babies. One little guy could not stop giggling as his mother wrapped him and unwrapped him in the fabric, surprising him with silly faces.

 

For our next stop, we took a closer look at Frozen Foods (one of my personal favorites from the show!) This time, Misty focused our attention on the different textures in the photo—we noticed the long, straight shoots of asparagus, the rounded pops of frozen berries, and the crackling frozen lentils. Using pool noodles, shakers, and maracas, the babies and parents created their own soundscape for the photo, and moved and danced in rhythm to bouncy melodies. It was a ruckus, but so much fun!

I loved watching the parents and children experience the art in an entirely new way. When the music came on, the babies couldn’t seem to help themselves, and their little legs and arms would start bopping in time to the music. Parents were all smiles and gave themselves permission to be silly as we jumped and reached and swooshed around the galleries. And for me personally as an educator, Misty helped me to approach these works of art with a new eye and gain an even greater appreciation for Penn’s artistry and talent. I noticed textures, shapes, movement, and stillness where I hadn’t really seen them before.

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Lesson learned—a little dance is good for everyone, no matter how big or small!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs

I Could Have Danced All Night!

Artists take cues from the surrounding world when creating their own works of art.  Inspiration can come from any number of subjects including fashion, popular culture, and poetry.  The DMA is currently playing host to an exhibition titled, Chagall: Beyond Color, which features the artist’s paintings alongside his works in sculpture, ceramics, and collage. The DMA is the only US venue for this exhibition, so you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Marc Chagall never aligned himself with any single movement, but combined elements from various styles including Cubism, Fauvism, Symbolism, and Surrealism.  He also drew inspiration from his Jewish background, Russian upbringing, and many international travels.  While Chagall is most famous for his paintings, he also experimented with other media and venues.  For example, he designed and produced costumes and scenery for the production of the ballet Aleko, choreographed by Léonide Massine and set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor.

Marc Chagall, A Wheatfield on a Summer's Afternoon, Study for backdrop for Scene III of the ballet Aleko, 1942, Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest

Marc Chagall, A Wheatfield on a Summer’s Afternoon, Study for backdrop for Scene III of the ballet Aleko, 1942, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest

Three years after the immense success of Aleko, Chagall worked on the stage curtain, sets, and costumes for Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.  The ballet, based on a Russian folktale, was restaged by the American Ballet Theater with choreography by Adolphe Bolm.

Marc Chagall, Model for the curtain in the first act of "The Firebird" by Stravinsky: The Enchanted Forest (Maquette pour le rideau de scène du 1er acte de "L'Oiseau de feau" de Stravisky: La forêt enchantée), 1945, Private collection, Paris

Marc Chagall, Model for the curtain in the first act of “The Firebird” by Stravinsky: The Enchanted Forest (Maquette pour le rideau de scène du 1er acte de “L’Oiseau de feau” de Stravisky: La forêt enchantée), 1945, Private collection

Marc Chagall is not the only artist to have been inspired by the passionate art form of dance.  As a strong cultural element, dance can be found represented in a variety styles throughout history and across geography.  Below are some examples of works in the DMA collection that also draw inspiration from various forms of dance.

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

Music Connections to the DMA Collection

The DMA’s collection offers a number of opportunities for cross-disciplinary study. Shannon has written blogs that focus on the literary connections to Abstract Expressionist works of art and other areas of the DMA’s collection. In this post, I thought I could share a few of my favorite music-related objects.

Below is a collage by Romare Bearden called Soul Three. In addition to being an accomplished artist, Romare Bearden also occasionally composed jazz music and associated with musicians such as Branford Marsalis, Duke Ellington, and Fats Waller. This musical influence appears frequently in his collages in the form of musical themes and subjects. Soul Three, for instance, shows three musicians playing guitar and tambourine.

Romare Bearden used music in many ways when he created art. Sometimes he drew while listening to music. He described this experience by saying, “[o]ne of the things I did was to listen to a lot of music. I’d take a sheet of paper and just make lines while I listened to records—a kind of shorthand to pick up the rhythm and the intervals.” Bearden also advised that, in making art, you “become a blues singer—only you sing on the canvas. You improvise—you find the rhythm and catch it good, and structure as you go along—then the song is you.”

Romare Bearden, Soul Three, 1968, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and Roberta Coke Camp Fund

Shiva, the Hindu god of creation and destruction, is shown in the bronze sculpture below in his most transcendent state as Nataraja, or Lord of the Dance. Here, Shiva is the embodiment of cosmic energy who dances the rhythm of the universe and beats his drum in time. Music and dance, in the Hindu tradition, are considered pathways to divinity, and worshippers perform to honor the god.

Shiva Nataraja, 11th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

 

Next, this black serpentine bust of Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter shows the musician as he appeared a few years before his death. Leadbelly was a troubled folk singer and two-time murderer who was reputedly pardoned for his crimes when the governor of Texas heard his music. In this bust, he is portrayed sensitively by the sculptor Michael G. Owen, Jr.

Michael G. Owen Jr., Leadbelly, 1943, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Gooch Fund Purchase Prize, Twelfth Annual Texas Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1951

 

Finally, for the Senufo peoples of Côte d’Ivoire, the drum is an instrument of music and communication. Drums are used by Senufo women to accompany songs sung in a secret language to deal with gender conflicts and other frustrations, and serve as a sort of “public address system” for the Senufo community announcing important events or rituals. They are also pounded to create a rhythm which encourages competition among young men hoeing the fields.

Drum, 20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus

 

These are only a few of the many works at the DMA which celebrate music. List your favorites in the comments below.

 

Tom Jungerberg

IMLS Grant Coordinator


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