Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Emory Dance Program Presents: Honors Thesis Concerts

Next weekend (March 23rd-March 25th) the Emory Dance Program will present honors theses by seniors, Rosie Ditre, Cherry Fung, Clara Guyton, Julianna Joss, and Eliza Krakower! Theses projects include the explorations of dance on screen, political relationships, poetry, identity expression, and the intersections of dance genres.

Check out one of our featured theses choreographers, Clara Guyton, as she shares insight on her concept and process!

Whispered Conversations: The Act of Making via Translation between Poetry and Dance 

By Clara Guyton

I can never tell
if I am a dancer who loves poetry
or a poet who loves to dance.

In my Junior spring at Emory, I took a class called “Poetry via Translation”. The professer would hand us a poem in another language and ask us to translate it. During these exercises, I created poetry I didn’t even know I had inside of me, using tools that called upon all of my senses. The process of translating the poems reminded me of how I choreograph on myself in the studio — the sometimes (seemingly) imposible task of transmitting what MUST be expressed to the physical body with succint clarity while not sacrificing emotion.

I realized the concept that the poem is the vehicle through which an idea or emotion or memory or thought or exclamation (etc.) is carried IS what a dancer is to the dance. A dancer’s body is the poem while the movement vocabulary is the idea, together evoking through performance the essence of the work (or world).

And so…I began my work on this project. This project that explores and challenges the boundaries of bold translation between the mediums of dance and poetry. This project that has shaped me as much as I have shaped it. This project that I am so grateful to nourish and share.

My process in the studio has always included writing. I usually carry about 6-7 books with me (usually poetry and NOT for class) to bring to the studio. About 4 of these books are often old and current journals.

(I like to call upon memories, for I believe that we cannot understand
what we are trying to say before we understand what we have said.)

In addition to researching these old journals and reading the poetry I brought, I write every rehearsal. I always leave time before or after each rehearsal to write about whatever came to mind during time in the studio, allowing me to inscribe what intellectual process occurred in conjunction with the physical experience.

It is a very private, personal process for me. Which may be why I prefer to choreograph for myself, on myself (at this moment in time).

Though my process in the studio is private, I think about my work in public very often. Outside of the studio, I (surprise!) write. I write in different sites that relate to the poem I am working with or I write a letter to the person I think of when I read the poem. I also scavenge for poems that relate to the poem I am working with, inundating myself with various perspectives of the same thought.

I really just bury myself in poetry when I make dance.

And I bathe in every lavish minute of it.

Some excerpts from journal entries in the studio:

(August 2016)
the ghost of what is not

            at the end of time {forever one step ahead of you}.

(September 2016)

You had written something illegible of the grieving rake,

             the secret one,

that grapples for an edge somewhere in the soft fleshy walls of your most


(October 2016)

i said hello instead and scattered passion like seeds on the snow.

(December 2016)

every ending is broken
every ending lingers

*all photography provided by Clara Guyton*

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