November 27, 2000
Teague tackles meaning
from all sides
By Michael Alpert
The brightness that blinds stage performers to their audience is a warm limelight thats illuminated Lori Teagues life. Yet her focus recently has been on breaking through the partition between dancer and viewer and commingling with her audiences energy.
I want to break down that barrier, said Teague, assistant
professor in the Emory Dance Program, part of the Department of Health,
Physical Education and Dance. I really enjoy the exchange I have
with my audience when I can see them.
Theres a dynamic of playing with them that I like,
she said of her occasional preference for stages surrounded by audience
members, where viewers feel more a part of performances. I think
movement can be just as dynamic from the back and side of my body as from
the front of my body.
Teague is currently working with nine student dancers to restage a 13-minute
piece entitled Echo Nest, one of seven works that make up
the programs fall concert, 7 Considerations, at the
Mary Gray Munroe Theater, Nov. 16-18. Echo Nest is presented
conventionally on frontal stage, unlikeTeagues other fall creation,
Runway Dances, which was presented in September in the Performing
Arts Studio with the audience flanking the stage, similar to a fashion
Teague has conducted choreographic research focusing on three-dimensional,
site-specific dance since the early 1990s, when she began making dances
in settings other than a traditional theater. Her exploration of the dimensional
elements and psychology of space complements that of Emorys three
other full-time dance faculty, whose research interests combine with Teagues
to make Emorys still-small program a burgeoning one.
Sally Radell, associate professor and director of the dance program, is studying the integration of movement and text and how verbal and non-verbal communication combine in presentation. Associate
Professor Anna Leo is devoting her efforts to the study of duet forms
and gender roles in dance, and instructor Wayne Smith dedicates much of
his energy to individual performances portraying life themes.
But while Teagues point of reference begins near her department
colleagues, her research since coming to Emory in 1992 has set her
on a slightly different path. Shes focused on the analysis of movement,
first developed by renowned movement theorists Rudolph Laban and Irmgard
Teague said movement can be analyzed in primarily four ways: body,
or what part of the body is speaking and how; shape, or the
form the body creates; space, or the directions, dimensions
and planes in which movement takes place; and effort, or the
qualitative use of energy. Teague looks specifically at effort phrasing
and the use of space in her work.
Her teaching focus has come to include movement fundamentals, improvisation,
dance literacy, composition and modern technique.
Teagues efforts help make up a curriculum enjoyed each year by
an estimated 10 dance majors, 30 minors and another 600 or so students
in the general dance courses. The programs curriculum attempts to
develop students awareness and appreciation of movement in diverse
styles, as well as how to communicate through non-verbal expression.
Teagues research has revealed dances continuing departure
from its more constructive and often restrictive roots, and has exposed
her to a freer and less restrained genre that respects fundamentals but
at times branches almost out of bounds.
Its like our verbal language, she said of choreographic
research. You learn the mechanics of writing, like point of view,
etc., but then you aquire more tools to create a different and very specific
She loves to take risks and dives right into the creative process,
Radell said of Teague. She never shies away from large and complex
You learn rules, then you want to break them, Teague said.
Dance movement now is much more abandoned, and theres a lot
more risk in dance now.
Leo, whos handpicked Teague to perform in some of her presentations,
complements her colleagues intangible energy.
Shes unafraid to investigate new ideas with her dance, Leo said. The time spent in the studio with her is very richshe creates a rich, creative environment.