Listening - watching
taking a moment
drawing the world
finding the way to connection
again and again.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Beyond Calligraphy

I am currently out at Colorado College as the Mindfulness Resident for
Creativity & Innovation, offering my art practices widely.

Last week I attended a dance performance at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
by the Guangdong Modern Dance Company from China.

The first part of the evening was movement inspired by Chinese calligraphy.
The writing styles were projected on the stage wall as the dancers moved.

As the house lights dimmed I opened my sketchbook
and did blind contour drawing - in the dark !
Later I added some color and words.

After the concert I went searching for the scripts that had inspired the choreographer.

Oracle bone script 
Carved onto tortoise shells and used for divination
(by sticking a hot needle in the shell and interpreting the pattern of cracks).
Here is an oracle bone inscription from the Bronze Age (1339 - 1281 BCE) .

The dancers movements were symmetrical - abrupt - balanced.

Regular script
Emperor Hui-Sung of the Sung Dynasty (1082-1135) was a gifted artist with a personal style
he named "slender golden thread". He was also a disastrous ruler because of his dedication to
aesthetic pleasures. During his reign the country was overrun by Jurchen forces, ending the
Sung dynasty. He and his family were taken prisoners.
Here is an example of his elegant writing . . .

The dancers movements were sharp and spotlighted -

Cursive script
Huai Su (737 - 799) was a calligrapher and monk in the T'ang Dynasty who was fond of wine
and wrote quickly and beautifully while drunk. He was poor and did not have the money to buy
paper so he planted banana trees and used the leaves for writing.
He is one of the most renowned writers of the cursive script.
He called his writing "the calligraphy of an intoxicated immortal."

The dancers movements were fluid and connecting.
My pen did not leave the page . . .

The second half of the program was titled "Ink Wash Painting".
Long banners hung down with soft washes of overlapping mountains projected on the fabric.

Here the banners reflected patterns of water.

All the dancers took a bow at the end,
standing solemnly in a long line,
bending over together
all the way to the ground.

Here is a video of some clips from the performance -