Water Study (1928) by Doris Humphrey.


Main, L. 2006. Water Study (1928) by Doris Humphrey.
Title of workWater Study (1928) by Doris Humphrey.
CreatorsMain, L.

The ‘Water Study' project is significant in that it tests the concept of 'reconstruction' itself, through engagement in the processes leading to a professional production. As such, it attempts to explore how a 'meta-practical' approach might combine with professional/creative imperatives specific to making new work in the professional context. The project allowed the production process to evolve from what Collingwood and Hayden White have called the 'historical imagination', rather than from an overriding concern with historical reconstruction. Major research strategies: 1. to review existing evidence from an interpretive perspective, informed by theories of the 'historical imagination' and the 'living past'; 2. to test the usefulness, in practice, of the movement motif identified as 'the forward successional curve'. Through processes of definition, informed choreographic action, and reflective analysis, it became clear in the production processes themselves that the 'forward successional curve' can be developed to provide a rhythmic pattern and a coherent energy sequence throughout the piece: this is required because of the striking nature of Water Study, which lacks musical accompaniment and formal count patterns, meaning that another mechanism needs to provide aesthetic coherence to the work of the dancers, and to spectators' perception. The mixed-mode project enabled Main to test an explicitly 'co-authorial' intervention through interpretive exploration, evolving between contemporary aesthetics and the 'historical imagination'. The wider research significance is double: first, this strategy introduced the notion of co-author, working alongside rather than in deference to 'the choreographer', effecting a conceptual and artistic shift from ‘reconstructor' to director; second, it lies in the fact that whereas ‘first generation' exponents of Humphrey's work remain, it will shortly be the case that the perpetuation of the repertoires, movement styles and philosophies become the responsibility of artists lacking direct association with the choreographer, and consequently needing input from other researchers.

First publicly available date
Print26 Sep 2006
Publication process dates
Deposited11 Dec 2008
Output statusPublished
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