Finding synergy in dance and design
May 20, 2020
A performance space is dark, dim lighting suggests something’s going to happen soon. The audience is sitting very close to dancers in a huge circle in TeaterØ, they can smell the sweat of our exhausted bodies and hear our loud breathing. In a few seconds, my colleague is about to run towards me, jump on my pelvis and finally onto my right shoulder, and then we’ll spin away. There is an elderly person sitting just one meter behind me and there is a risk we can fall – nevertheless, we are calm: I trust my partner, he trusts me and both trust we can do this. This is our routine, we have rehearsed this several times.
I embody this moment of calmness when I’m working in a user interview; this is a place where I recall tranquility – this is the moment when we create a safe space and trust with someone, we have never met before. The session can be stressful for the interviewee; therefore, I ask a question: how do I create a welcoming space through my physical presence? Is it to do with well-planned and structured choreography; my colleague and I know exactly, how we are going to act and what we are going to ask. How much do we leave for improvisation? How much do we adapt our interviewee’s rhythm during the session?
Rhythm is a dancer
Rhythm is a fascinating word. With rhythm, comes dynamics. When we talk about dynamics, we might mean forces that produce movement – it’s basically how much energy you allow your body to produce. Dynamics play an important role in creating rhythm in your piece – e.g. changes in movement from fast to slow and everything between creates contrasts and therefore, can easier engage the audience’s interest.
This is something I pay attention to everyday life in my work as a Visual Designer – how am I going to create an engaging, delightful and meaningful experience: what is the rhythm and composition in a layout design; how is the information architecture built, what is the hierarchy of the elements and their spatial relationship to each other. How do I make sure the accessibility is secured? What is the purpose, values, soul of this service, product, or idea I’m working on?
Most importantly, at Idean we always deeply understand human needs, when we help our clients to solve problems or design solutions.
Owning the space
Physical space, personal space, white space, letter-spacing – when we talk about spatial awareness, we might say presence plays an important role. How is my kinesphere; the space I can reach without moving from spot. Where is my location and direction in relation to the others? Can I compose myself in this space with these people – what things should be highlighted, what are the ones that need subtle attention. Can I add silence in this space as a dramaturgical element?
If I’m preparing for a client or design presentation and I know I’m going to face critical spectators I utilize something I’ve learned from dance – the audience is always on my side. Always. Dancing is a state of being, where I am most vulnerable; those are the moments I truly can’t hide, as inevitably, it always goes under the skin.
Marjukka Savolainen is a Freelance Professional Contemporary Dance Artist and Visual Designer at Idean Finland’s Helsinki studio. She loves witnessing pedestrian movements and everyday life with its all quirkiness.