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  • Drawing the Language of Dance
  • Jan Rae (bio)

Can the connection between two dancers be visualized by the trajectory of the movement of their bodies? Can the emotional response to music be transcribed by using gestural mark-making? What is the nature of tango? These are the driving questions that inform my drawing practice.

My work focuses on how to make sensory, gestural, and kinesthetic images through referencing audio stimuli and using experimental drawing techniques, performance, and new media. The key elements are movement, musicality, and connection. The work also seeks to explore the nature of connection. As a modern society we are distracted by computers, social media, and smart phones; protracted personal connection in daily life has been diminished. We communicate and connect through the technology that has removed us one step from direct contact with each other. In our busy and distracted lives, the opportunity for creative collaboration, extended focus, and even deep conversation is being eroded.

The practice of drawing involves deep and extended focus. Drawing requires one's whole attention and uses the energy of the whole body. One line requires energy from the feet and uses the whole body to the point of connection with the drawing surface. It is an immediate and analog action. In this way drawing can involve movement, gesture, and an elevated sense of perception. Drawing can also require an external stimulus. For my purpose, I use music and dance as the driving force behind my mark-making. Drawing can become performative when viewed as an action.

My performance drawings respond directly to music and use the whole body as a drawing tool. My work is also collaborative and experimental, and the drawing projects involve one-on-one sessions with musicians, dancers, or cinematographers. Communication and connection are the essence of the work. In my current series of tango performance drawings, I collaborate with various tango partners [End Page 42] and dance to different tango music. The marks made on the prepared surface are only the result of the dance. The dance has not been modified, hence every session will produce its own and unique drawing.

Dance is pure creativity. Each step can be deconstructed into many parts, and each movement offers freedom into the unknown by insisting on spontaneous or considered choices. It can be seen as a moving meditation. In dance, aspects of time, form, direction, and space are further enhanced by the connection with music.

It is the timelines—the stretching, overlapping and bending of visual and aural rhythms—that are so intriguing. It is part of the human condition to express ourselves through dance and movement, and there is a spiritual aspect to the connection between body movement and music, especially when we share the experience with another person. I find this a fascinating concept and, as a visual metaphor for life and relationships, an endless source of inspiration for my artwork.


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Preparing the Floor, marble dust and water. Performed by Jan Rae. Draw to Perform 4, Fabrica Contemporary Gallery, Brighton, UK, 2017.

Photo: Courtesy Nigel Davies.

[End Page 43]


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Drawing the Language of Dance, line of dance erasure with marble dust. Performed by Jan Rae. Draw to Perform 4, Fabrica Contemporary Gallery, Brighton, UK, 2017.

All photos: Courtesy Manja Williams.


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Drawing the Language of Dance, performance drawing. Performed by Jan Rae and Nigel Davies. Draw to Perform 4, Fabrica Contemporary Gallery, Brighton, UK, 2017.

All photos: Courtesy Manja Williams.


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Drawing the Language of Dance, floor drawing with marble dust. Draw to Perform 4, Fabrica Contemporary Gallery, Brighton, UK, 2017.

All photos: Courtesy Manja Williams.

[End Page 44]


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One Tanda, performance drawing with marble dust and water. Performed by Jan Rae and Crismen Tache. Black Box, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2016.

Photo: Courtesy Jan Rae.

[End Page 45]

Jan Rae

JAN RAE is a visual artist, tango dancer, performer, and teacher who represented Australia in the 2007 World Tango Championships in Buenos Aires. Her drawings and paintings have been exhibited...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 42-45
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-12
Open Access
No
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