Meindert Peters recently finished his DPhil at New College, Oxford with a thesis titled “Re-Inhabiting Modernism: Embodied Cognition in German Literature and Thought 1910-1934.” His work combines literary and cultural studies with advances in the field of embodied cognitive science. He is a former professional ballet dancer.
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.”