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Lillian Willis Professor Hinnant English 1101 October 10th, 2013 Universal Pain Encompasses the Emotional Soul and Physical Body The scene is set. The lighting is fixed. Two dancers take on the role of assigned emotions to portray what their choreographer has entitled Precious Blood. The piece is a mix of solos, as well as a duet. Their costumes, gender, and age all oppose one another. The lighting and set design of Precious Blood is immensely intense and meaningful to correspond with the movement style. In this powerful and moving piece there are opposing factors that are central to various themes. The two dancers are complete opposites. The first dancer on the scene is a woman, who looks to be in her seventies. While the second dancer to appear is a man, who looks to be in his fifties. There are known and obvious differences between the physicality and nature of women versus men. Men are generally built with more muscle and are stronger, while women are more petite and have less muscle. The anatomical aspects of the two dancers show these oppositions perfectly. The male has huge, much defined muscles, while the woman who is a dancer and does have muscle looks to have substantially less strength than he. The choreographer may have also chosen to have a male and female dancer because people are stereotyped based on gender. Men are supposed to be emotionally strong all of the time, while women are seen as more fragile. This piece shows us that people arent always what we think, by confronting these preconceived notions. Because the woman is quite a bit older than the man, it brings a different sense to the piece. Seeing people at two different stages in their lives is very important and

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shows us that we all go through similar things. In what is known to some as the dance world a dancers professional career is usually very short. Most only professionally dance until around the age of thirty, so for the choreographer to choose two dancers who are much older than what is seen as the norm is very interesting. He may have been trying to show the audience that not all stereotypes about dancers are true. Women can make just as much of a powerful statement as men can, while men can show just as much emotion as women. This is imperative to the intention of the entire peice, as well as the fact that much older dancers can dance just as well, if not better and be more emotionally connected than some younger dancers. Age and gender doesnt define us or bind us. In Precious Blood, just as the dancers gender and age completely oppose one anothers, so do their costumes. The womans costume is a long red dress, which completely covers her body, leaving only her hands, neck, head, and, once in a while, her feet shown to the audience. The man on the other hand, is dressed in a pair of short shorts that cover only his pelvis, leaving the rest of his body open to the audience. The womans dress flows through the air with extreme fluidity, while the mans shorts are tightly secured to his body. Lastly, the womans dress is entirely bright red and the mans shorts are pure white. Her dress represents blood, Precious Blood, as she is dressed in red. The representation of blood is also made clear through her dress' fluidity, as it represents the way blood flows through our veins. The mans white shorts and bare skin represent a human soul. Our souls are the purest part of us. They are full of emotion, and filled with our most honest feelings and thoughts. When one lets someone else see into their soul, or feel their emotions, it is as if we are bare or naked, revealing ourselves. The next important quality of Precious Blood is its setting. Each dancer is positioned on either side of the stage, splitting center. The woman is on stage right and the man is on stage left.

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When the lights come up and the dancers are eventually shown, the dancers are seen to have each a single silver metal table and chair. They are positioned on stage left and stage right, splitting center, just as the dancers are. These props are never moved during the dance, but they are used to dance upon. The dancers are independent, yet they are tied together by many facets, one being the same exact props (their positioning and use included). This theme of independence coinciding with equality is continually shown throughout the dance and aided by other devices. Humans have individual qualities and traits that make them unique. They all also may go through individual struggles, yet there is always someone who has gone through something similar. This is so important in life, due to the fact that although we are all different and face different things, one can find a way to be apathetic and helpful to other human beings. The lighting in Precious Blood is what ties the entire story and theme together. It pieces together things that would otherwise be confusing to an audience. As the first sounds of music are heard by the audience the stage is completely dark. The lights then beam on stage right to show the woman. The white lighting is in the shape of a box on the floor around her. This shape could possibly represent a box that she is trapped inside of because of the things that she seems to be going through. Perhaps it even represents being trapped in her life and not being able to move out of a bad place. As the womans light fades to black, the same white light box shape fades in to show the man and his props. After this, the mans lighting fades to black again as the womans light fades to show her for a second time, and finally the lighting switches to show the man. Next the womans light fades back in, while the man continues to dance and his lighting stays the same. They begin to dance in their boxes still, but both dancing at the same time, which hasnt happened yet. These clearly separate boxes of light may mean to show that the two dancers are independent and living different lives, their own lives. Even though they are

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independent, the similar lighting and setting, aided by the props, shows us that they are somehow related or affecting one another. Therefore, somehow they are similar. Their solos show us their individual struggles, while their duet shows us how similar they really are. Their solos each show distinct emotions of pain, grief, heartache, and even a bit of anger at times. The fact that they dance so differently (in referring to the different speed of their movements, the actual movements themselves, and the way in which they perform it) gives the audience an exact visual image of how different their struggles are. Their similarities (the movements that look similar but are performed differently, etc) may aim to make clear to the audience that all the people in the world struggle, we all have that in common. If one were to look back at the dancers as literal representations of blood and soul, then they would come together to create a single human being. The emphasis on each member separately could be showing us that each are equally important to life, and as they come together to dance we see that we need both of them. As the dancers continue to dance with the light up on both of them, the lighting changes to a minor shade of red as the story, or the dancers emotions, become more intense. This color intensifies the audiences perception of what emotions they are portraying (anguish, frustration, worry, perhaps even grief). This lighting changes the look of the dancers skin to have an orange tint to it which also aids in helping the audience fully understand the emotion of the piece. This color allows the audience to see the dancers emotions well, because their faces are lit. It also gives the audience a bit of a sense of struggle by but doesnt overwhelm the actual movements, it only aids them. It also works well with the storyline because the next lighting color is very intense. As the light abruptly changes to blue on both dancers (still in the shape of a square and the same size), the emotions or feelings change as well. Here it is as if they are feeling hopeless. Blue represents this color well because it can represent sadness and melancholy - perhaps they are even feeling fearful. In the

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ending scene the lighting changes from being blue and on both of them, and fades to white light on just the woman, still in the shape of a square. The man is no longer in the picture. The piece and the womans solo both come to an end as her light fades to a deep, forceful red that flushes out her body. All you see is red in the shape of her body. Due to the Recency and Primary Effect of the Serial Position Effect - which state that one remembers things at the beginning and the end of something better than the middle, we can see that a large amount of emphasis is being put on the woman, because she begins and ends the dance. This could have been done to show blood's importance as a vital source we need to live, and without it we wouldnt be alive. It is also showing, by the woman being there in the beginning and end, that even if there is no soul left, the blood can still be there before, after, and during (a person's life). You may be alive because of the blood within you, but not necessarily alive on the inside or the soul. Also, due to the bright red being the last thing we see it resonates in our mind and causes us to think more critically about the woman and her significance in the story. The music of Precious Blood is an entity within itself. It has many important meanings and perfectly correlates with the dancing, lighting, and scenery to portray the exact effect the choreographer wanted to get across. The beginning is defined by a fixed and definite ticking noise, as if to represent the ticking of a clock. This could represent that the human - which the two dancers together represent - doesnt have much time left before their worries and stresses end what is left of his soul. The man represents this specifically since he is the epitome of the soul itself. The ticking continues throughout the entire piece as if eerily reminding the soul that its running out of time to decide if it will be strong and move forward or just give up. As soon as the woman makes her first move a piano begins to strike notes and play along to her movement. As her solo continues the piano gets a little more depth to it, representing us getting to know the

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person better as we are about to see into their soul. As the man, or soul, begins to dance the piano gets even more emotional for only a very short time as if the human is afraid to let us into their world, or soul. Perhaps its hard for them to bare their soul. Then the piano keeps the same tune and similar qualities, as he goes through his solo. This same piano tune constantly comes back throughout the piece that the piano always goes back to playing, representing and tying together the fact that the two dancers represent one human being. A violin comes into the background just as the man is finishing up his first solo and continues on throughout the entire piece. This adds more depth to the music, more emotion, and more soul. Perhaps showing us that there is more to living life than just going through the motions every day: we have to feel, love, and live through our souls to fully live. As the woman finishes her second solo and the man begins his, the music stays the same, as a percussive beat is quickly added in the background. Just after this, the piano becomes more lively and upbeat. Eventually the woman joins in dancing with the man. Although they arent doing the exact same movements they are dancing at the same time and in a way, working as one; the way blood and soul should. We need them both. Therefore, as the more upbeat song continues it shows how good it is when these two things work together in a human being. It is as if the human has seen the light. Then it all seems to take a turn for the worst as the violin takes over the musical scene and has a deep, depressing tone to it. The dancers then seem to portray giving up, or worrying, again. Even still, they are trying even harder now to get past their struggles. Then the percussion beat takes over one last time as the soul tries to regain the strength it once had to live. Next the percussion makes an interesting noise and the blood makes more noticeable movements. Although, the light is still on both blood and soul - as if the blood is trying to help the soul or trying to make the body live on its own. Then the music continues with the same tune its

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had the entire time, along with a mixture of all the instruments, as the two dancers dance together with the same amount of magnitude coming from each of them. Then, although the music goes into a new phrase, it doesnt change very much. The soul is no longer in the picture and all that is left is the human's blood. The music continues the same as the woman dances alone with the red spot light on her. The music fades quickly to only the original piano tune and the ticking noise is louder because its no longer drowned out by the other sounds. Then the ticking stops and the piano makes two lone note strikes. This ending is definitely dramatic. It stresses the fact that the soul has basically died and is no more, while the blood keeps going on. If there is no soul in a human being, what are we really? Just skin, bones, and blood. Nothing more, nothing less. All parts of a piece of art are important, but movement has a little extra something. The human body never lies, it are always completely honest. Whether someone is scared, angry, insecure, joyous, or anything around and between you can see it in their dancing. Whether they are letting out their own emotions or portraying those with which the choreographer needs them to portray, a dancer's emotions come from an honest place within themselves. In this piece each and every movement portrays beautifully a story of pain, frustration, sorrow, worry, grief, among other possible emotions. The piece begins with the womans solo. She makes gestures of prayer, which could mean she is worried, and needs more time (also in relation to the ticking sound). Her movements in their entirety are all very sharp and executed very precisely during this section. She is also moving at a decent speed. As the man begins his solo we see that although the two dancers could represent a single human being they also represent humans as a whole. They show us that no matter who we are or what we look like or act like, we ALL go through struggles. The man makes some of the exact same movements as the woman, but with a bit more force, and seemingly larger. He even jumps onto the table at one point, showing intensity and

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passion. He also makes similar gestures of prayer, showing that both blood and soul are equally important and all people go through similar things. His struggle seems to be a bit different than hers due to the differences in their movements. The story and movements continue on as they begin to face their problems more head on. They are continuously trying to find hope; we see this through their praying hands. Perhaps they are begging for mercy. Their movements eventually become more drawn out, yet just as powerful and thought-provoking. As they face their problems they both hit a hard spot: the man moves into a position as if he were weeping on the table, while the woman covers her head with her skirt as if she is trying to hide from her problems. As the dance goes on and the music changes to coincide with their movements, their movements speed up, as if to represent them searching for a different way out. After searching and trying, they both freeze. The man falls to the ground from his table as the woman sits straight up on her table. This juxtaposition shows how their lives are affecting one another inadvertently. After the man (or soul) has given up, or died, the woman seems to realize it in some way - although she never makes a clear reference to him you can see it in her face, body, and entire emotions. She contracts with a loss of pain before the ending. The piece ends with a solo by the woman as she walks around her table and in between her chair to lift her large, fluid skirt up to cover the table. She then lifts her arms and sways back and forth looking up to the sky, pulsing her fingers out almost like a heartbeat. All thats left of the human is his blood, keeping their heart beating, yet their true heart no longer beats. Precious Blood shows us a theme of universal pain. We all go through suffering and we all handle it differently. This piece also teaches us that just because someone looks alive on the outside doesnt mean they are necessarily alive on the inside. The opposition in the costumes,

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gender, age, and the ideas of blood and soul show us multiple things. All humans have many sides to them. We can be strong and weak; we can be mature and immature. It shows us that although ALL the many people in the world seem so different, we really arent on the inside, and we all matter just as much. Someone can be physically alive, but emotionally and spiritually dead. Precious Blood also represents one human being through the two dancers being vital parts of a human being: blood and soul. Precious Blood was presented by Complexions, a professional contemporary ballet company stationed in the United States. It was performed by Carmen de Lavallade - a renowned professional dancer, choreographer, stage and film actress, and professor - and Desmond Richardson - the Artistic Director, Co.Founder, and an Artist-in-Residence for Complexions. Precious Blood was choreographed by the other Artistic Director, Co. Founder, and Resident Choreographer for Complexions, Dwight Rhoden.