Sunday, September 6, 2009

Interview with choreographer Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman is an accomplished choreographer, writer, performer, educator, and artist whose laurels include the American Choreographer Award, an honorary doctorate from Williams College, Washingtonian Magazine's 1988 Washingtonian of the Year and a 2002 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship. She founded The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, based in Takoma Park, Maryland, in 1976. Since 2006, the group has traveled throughout the country performing a multimedia dance production titled Ferocious Beauty: Genome. With Gregor Mendel as a leading character, this work examines the nature of discovery and the implications of present-day research in genetics.

from the interview

It's one of those interesting things where we realize that all language is symbolic. Because even calling it a particle, you might think of a dust particle or a dirt particle or whatever is in people's imaginations. I ran into this with genomics stuff. They talked so much about protein folding, and we got so into folding and had such a good time with all this folding stuff. And then I finally saw an animation of what people thought protein folding was, and it's not folding at all! It's more like intense wrapping. I would never call it folding. That's when I realized that our language is problematic, too. It's not just that dancing is an approximation, but the language is an approximation unless you can see the actual thing, and with a lot of this stuff you can't. And that got me very excited, actually. I thought for a while that I could make a dance about dueling metaphors, because people say such different things when they're trying to explain something that you can't see.


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