Patty Argyrides is a PhD candidate in English at Queen’s University, completing her dissertation, “Reading that Moves: Twentieth Century Literature and Ballet.” As a former professional ballet dancer, Patty’s work combines her experiential knowledge of dance with literary studies to examine the performativity of language and gesture in modern narrative and choreographic forms.
In his latest work, contemporary choreographer William Forsythe tries to create, in his own words, a “short-term literacy” in his audience. The piece begins without music in order to isolate the individual phrases of movement: “it might be perceived that there has been a subtraction, which would be music. But in fact, dancers being the musical engines behind any dance, their breathing alone causes you to understand the phrase.” The intention is to create a more skilled viewer who is focused on the movements that make up the dance without the distraction of the music. When music and movement come together in a more traditional way in the second act, the audience is, or so is the idea, more literate in what is presented to them: “suddenly, you are able to read.”