Posts filed under 'Dance'

Waldeen’s Neruda: Translating the Dance

She understood the essential relationship between poetry and music and their common root in dance. This was her secret.

Yesterday’s Translation Tuesday featured Pablo Neruda’s “Coming of the Rivers” sequence in an astonishing and previously unpublished translation by Waldeen. How did Waldeen capture the voice and tone of Neruda’s poetry so accurately, and why have such elegant translations remained in obscurity for almost seventy years? Poet and translator Jonathan Cohen, a close friend of Waldeen, explains the history—and the secrets—behind her Neruda translations.

Waldeen von Falkenstein (1913–1993)—known as a dancer and writer by her first name alone—has yet to receive the full recognition she deserves for her work as a translator of Pablo Neruda’s poetry. The poetic achievement of her translations and their influence on American poetry merit more attention. Waldeen’s elegant renderings of poems that would form Neruda’s epic masterpiece, Canto General (1950), translations that she published in the late 1940s and early 1950s, introduced Neruda and his image-driven poetics to many readers. Among them were poets like the Beats looking for alternatives to the prevailing formalist mode of verse, who found in him, through her, a model poet.

Waldeen achieved fame in Mexico as the founder of modern dance there. In 1956, Diego Rivera, one of the principal gods of Mexican art, lavished praise on Waldeen for her contribution to Mexican culture (“In each of her dance movements, she offered our country a jewel”). His tribute to her appeared in a major newspaper of Mexico, where he went beyond his accolades of her dance work to also celebrate her as a poet-translator: “I can bear witness to this not only by the intensity of emotion I felt in the verses of this beautiful and admirable woman, but through the testimony, as well, of our Walt Whitman of Indo-America, Pablo Neruda, who wrote to her, deeply moved, after she translated poetry of his into English: ‘Waldeen, thank you, for your poems of my poems, which are better than mine.’ ”

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Asymptote Podcast: Language and Dance (Part II)

Sawako Nakayasu on translating the founder of Butoh, a Japanese dance known for its darkness and contorted movements

On this month’s Asymptote Podcast, the second of two episodes focusing on language and dance, former contest judge Sawako Nakayasu is interviewed by Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle. They discuss her unique translation of a dancer’s notebook, Costume en Face: A Primer of Darkness for Young Boys and Girls. The notebook documents the development of a work by Japanese choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata, as transcribed by his dancer Moe Yamamoto. The founder of Butoh, a style of dance known for its darkness and at-times contorted movements, Hijikata developed a way of communicating with his dancers that choreographed not only external movement, but internal states as well. To translate Hijikata’s notebook, Nakayasu had to reconcile the drive to translate as faithfully to the text as possible with the contingent and highly personal nature of a notebook never intended for publication. Listen to the podcast now!

 

Music used under a Creative Commons License from the Free Music Archive.

Asymptote Podcast: Language and Dance (Part I)

Discover Eurythmy, a form of dance created in the 1920s by philosopher Rudolph Steiner, in our latest podcast!

In this first installment of a two-parter about language and dance, Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle speaks with Switzerland-based dancer and choreographer Kincsö Szabó, who trained in Eurythmy, a form of dance created in the 1920s by philosopher Rudolph Steiner. In Eurythmy, aspects of language are taken as direct impulses for movement in a codified way—certain letters have certain sounds, and these sounds have movements associated with them. Szabó says that this process helps dancers to understand abstract concepts in a more natural and embodied way. Take a listen to the podcast now!
Music used under a Creative Commons License from the Free Music Archive.

In Review: Costume en Face: A Primer Of , choreographed by Tatsumi Hijikata

Why read choreography? Why read choreography—in translation?

This stunning translation of Tatsumi Hijikata’s Costume en Face Butoh choreography notations (transcribed by Moe Yamamoto) is the collaborative work of series editor (Yelena Gluzman, UDP), Hijikata scholars at Keio University (Takashi Morishita), the translator (Sawako Nakayasu), and the book designer (Steven Chodoriwsky). Although of course deeply relevant to scholarship on Butoh dance for English-speaking scholars, this book is a marvel of poetic elision and evocative design.

Nakayasu’s gifted compressions of Moe Yamamoto’s notes read as stage directions for a metaphysical revelation, textured by archetypal figures (from angels to Nazis), modernist paintings, and mythological figures. Her choice to include and briefly gloss specifically Japanese figures in brackets is clever and creates for a seamless experience that exposes the seams of audience. READ MORE…

The Afrofuture for the Time/Being: In Orbit with niv Acosta

"The collective dance, then, becomes a kind of superhuman entity, not hindered by any one body’s limitations."

We have created constructs that subliminally or consciously reflect the fallacy of race and drive our actions and reactions along racialized pathways. Black dance is one of these constructs. Taking this line of thinking a step further, the black dancing body exists as a social construct, not a scientific fact. However, this phantom body, just like the phantom concept of a black or white race, has been effective in shaking and moving, shaping and reshaping, American (and now global) cultural production for centuries. It has been courted and scorned—an object of criticism and ridicule as well as a subject of praise and envy.

Brenda Dixon Gottschild, The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool

DISCOTROPIC is the name of an ongoing project by New York-based dancer, niv Acosta. Proceeding in a series of ‘episodes’–each occurring at a different place and time— DISCOTROPIC deals simultaneously with astrophysics, the history of disco, and a Black sense of danger. With his group of performers, niv has performed various iterations of DISCOTROPIC at the New Museum, MoCADA, Cooper Union, Lehmann Maupin, amongst other notable New York arts venues.

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