Original Dance: You Only Left Me Five Years Ago

Emily Danzig

Video below.


This piece, entitled “You Only Left Me Five Years Ago,” grew out of an assignment in the Dance Composition class. The original source material was a compilation video of my professors’ hand motions during their lectures. The assignment was to adapt their movements into the vocabulary for our choreography, let the gestures inspire the driving theme of the piece, and to set it to words of any kind, rather than to music.

The theme I derived from my motions was that of being separated from my twin sister Erin for the first time when we left for different colleges. I arrived at the subject predominantly from observing variations of one handed vs. two handed movements. Hands are obviously a biological unit of two, which I equated to my twin and me, but frequently my professors gestured with only one, which prompted me to think about our split after having been together for all of our lives prior to college. The five fingers on a hand also developed the theme, because prior to college, our longest span of time apart was five consecutive days. Lastly, the literal contribution of professors’ gestures as source material inspired the theme, because the split happened for us to attend different schools.

The text that I set the piece to is an argument between my twin and I from last year via a voice messaging app.  We were debating a movie quote from the Princess Bride at three in the morning, and I chose it to accompany the piece because it’s very “us” and also demonstrates how far we’ve come since the initial split; even being separated for most of the year we have the same close relationship.

Much of the choreography features turns, symbolizing a change and turning point in our lives, falls or drops to the ground, representing the difficult transition, and parallel or interrelating motions between my hands, as the two of us moving through lives together but physically apart.

The dance is a solo turned duet by the interaction with a prop, a mirror.  The reflection provides a “partner” performing the dance along with me at certain points of the dance, a stand in for my sister, sometimes with me, sometimes out of sight.


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