The Brodmann Areas is a new ballet that dives head first into the gaps and synapses that define the 52 areas of the cerebral cortex of the brain. Vast and complex, these areas form a web of collaborations among different parts of the brain. At its basic level, these are the areas responsible for our interpretation of our senses, for cognition and memory and emotions such as anger, anxiety, happiness and sexuality. As science continues to map the mind and its methods of perception, this ballet ventures into decoding the impulse to action and the movement of language.
courtesy of Bushwick Daily
Part I: Prelude
music by H. Dutilleux: Ainsi la Nuit, Nocturne, Mirror d’espace, Parenthиse 1
danced by Dylan Crossman with Jace Coronado, Morgan McEwen, Abbey Roesner
music by R.D. James: Nannou / H. Dutilleux: Parenthиse 2
danced by Michelle Buckley, Jace Coronado, Dylan Crossman, Morgan McEwen, Abbey Roesner
NOTE: This section is to be seen out of the corner of your eye, in your peripheral vision. It’s hard, but, for the best experience, try to keep your eyes on the “magic hand.” Always, no matter what. Keep your eyes there and allow yourself to enjoy the splendors achieved by the dancers in your peripheral vision.
music by Ian Colletti: Jupiter the Moon
danced by Michelle Buckley
music by H. Dutilleux: Litanies 2, Parenthиse 3.
danced by Jace Coronado, Morgan McEwen, Abbey Roesner
music is gamma waves
danced by Michelle Buckley + Abbey Roesner
music by H. Dutilleux: Constellations
danced by Jace Coronado + Dylan Crossman
Motivi esteriori e cosi via
video projection and sound by Paul D’Agostino
with Michelle Buckley
text by Lawrence Swan. music by Autechre: Overrand
danced by full cast and Ida Josephsson
Interval (15 mins)
Part II: accelerate. mitigation. toil. blizzard
video projection and sound by Audra Wolowiec + Margo Wolowiec
The Emotion Experiment (the duets)
music by C. Avison: Concerto in d minor: Largo Andante
danced by full cast
Grey / White Matter
music by R. Francis: Reverie
danced by Jace Coronado + Morgan McEwen
music by H. Dutilleux: Litanies
danced by Jace Coronado, Morgan McEwen, Abbey Roesner
Folium: a wrinkles on the surface of the cerebellum
music by Antonio Martin y Coll
danced by Jace Coronado
Homunculus / Spatial Neglect
music by Ravel / Yokota
danced by Morgan McEwen + Abbey Roesner
Smell / Orange
music by P. Boulez: Dialogue de l’ombre double
performed by Ida Josephsson
music by H. Dutilleux: Temps Suspendu / R.D. James: Penty Harmonium
danced by Jace Coronado, Morgan McEwen, Abbey Roesner with Dylan Crossman
live performance by Jakub Ciupinski
danced by full cast
Choreographer’s Notes from Julia Gleich
The Brodmann Areas is a map of the cerebral cortex. The process of exploring this map began with a meeting at Norte Maar where we discussed the brain, emotions, mathematics, weaving and much more and agreed to devote our collective energies to this broad topic. There are 52 Brodmann Areas (BA) and the possibilities for creative engagement seemed endless. I cannot claim any kind of expertise about the brain or neuroscience; a laywoman’s knowledge has led me to engage in a series of experiments on a journey supported by research and collaboration. I began by considering language, encoding and memorization and took on the challenge with dancer Michelle Buckley to choreograph π or 3.14159…. Michelle can recite π to 250+ decimal places, but only when she’s dancing! Our movement system to encode the digits through choreography reveals that π is indeed irrational. Most of us think of ourselves as inseparable from our brains, the source of self, of personality.
The cerebral cortex is what makes us human and conscious, aware of our environment and ourselves. So the glue that binds together our experiments is a group of individuals tumbling through the universe. Inspired by the House of the Sun paintings by Jack Tworkov, the dancers move through this brain world together, bearing witness. The other glue is the dancers, and Dylan Crossman who just completed the Cunningham Legacy Tour and who I last worked with when he was a student. Creating new movement in the face of the philosophical questions inherent in any discussion of the brain is a huge endeavor. We have merged the clinical, the mathematical with the messiness of being human and the pulse of dance to create an evening of many textures, without reaching conclusions and while embracing the aesthetic and kinesthetic joys of dance. Audra Wolowiec and her sister Margo have also worked with encoding, or decoding, language with an artistic foray into Gregg Shorthand, and Paul D’Agostino uses changing images and desaturation to engage with visual perception. BA17-19 are involved in vision and vision scientist Denis Pelli helped in harnessing the special qualities of your peripheral vision to dance. And Lawrence Swan philosophizes on the brain in a memory challenge for the dancers. From the subconscious controlling the conscious, hypnosis to memory games, from emotions to grey/white matter, the experiments continue into an exploration of a most intriguing syndrome of spatial neglect, where an individual is unable to perceive one side of their body or environment. Tamara Gonzales has designed costumes that are vibrant and textured, at times fanciful or prosaic, and Ryan Francis has created a meta score that sonically connects the performers on their voyage. This program demanded different approaches to creation and challenged me, the dancers and collaborators to think and work differently each day together. Certainly our BA37 and 47 would be lighting up on the fMRI just now! And there is a live music treat at the end that will cause BA4 and 8 to activate!
Musical Director’s Notes from Ryan Francis
In choosing musical selections for a program examining something as complex as the work of Korbinian Brodmann’s studies of the cerebral cortex, Henri Dutilleux’s name came to mind immediately. Few composers have thought as deeply about the mind’s perception of musical form and memory as Dutilleux. This is reflected in an early decision in his career to eschew discrete movements in his music, choosing instead to create formal schemes that consist of numerous smaller attacca passages in the hope of drawing the listener into a deeper state of focus and fascination.
His string quartet Ainsi la Nuit is a marvelously complex piece, and creating a formal chart of the different movements and the musical material’s constant evolution begins to create a matrix that rather reminiscent Brodmann’s mapping of the mind. The work consists of twelve continuous sections, some nearly four minutes, others lasting only a brief thirty seconds. Many of these passages are given the designation parenthèse, and often they consist of no more than a brief allusion to an earlier event, or in certain cases foreshadowing musical material to follow. In this way, one might be tempted to equate Dutilleux’s use of thematic material as somewhat akin to Wagner’s leitmotif, where certain musical motifs are associated with characters, concepts and events within his operas. However, Dutilleux’s treatment of his material is much more fluid; whereas a leitmotif is fundamentally the same each time it occurs, Dutilleux’s musical material is constantly undergoing subtle changes, evolving over time. This approach has a fascinating effect on the listener’s perception of musical events. Upon multiple listenings, a piece by Dutilleux begins to reveal its formal secrets, but the listener is often unsure where the origin of a particular musical idea actually occurred. It is precisely this lack of clarity, and profoundly complex matrix of formal decisions that makes Dutilleux’s music such a beautiful accompaniment to this production.
Dutilleux’s music is not the only compositional voice you will hear, however. Ainsi la Nuit is a substantial twenty-minute piece, but hardly sufficient to fill the evening. Therefore, the decision was made to treat the formal flow of the evening as a meta-structure based on the fluid episodic form of Dutilleux’s quartet. Each of its movements acts as both an anchor, and a transition between other pieces, and while the choreography and concepts behind each of the performance pieces linked to the Dutilleux are unified in their vision, the other pieces on the program seek to explore other Brodmann Areas.
The music of Richard D. James is often noted for its overwhelmingly complex rhythmic structures, as well as unusual and often impossibly rare analogue synthesis. However, beyond the catalogue of his work that is most familiar, there is a substantial body of compositions that seek to explore the space between physical performance and technology. Sometimes these compositions take the form of deceptively simple piano compositions that are in fact performed by player pianos, and placed into arrangements that are physically impossible for a human pianist to achieve, despite simple rhythmic and harmonic structures. In the case of the two compositions of his used in this program, both exist in the realm of these blurred distinctions between heavily human elements and cold technology. Nannou immediately resembles a music box, and appears to be incredibly mechanized in its approach. However, within the sequencer-like precision of its performance are instrumental choices such as the m’bira, an African instrument that is played primarily with the thumbs, and has certain inherent limits for virtuosic potential that are nonetheless utterly flaunted here. Penty Harmonium on the other hand, evokes the wheezing, half drunk rhythmic stutter of the hurdy-gurdy player found in Schubert’s Winterreise cycle.
All of these pieces come together along Charles Avison, Antonio Martin y Coll, Pierre Boulez, Ian Coletti, Jakub Ciupinski, and myself, to create a formal matrix that is wildly disparate, forcing the listener to rapidly shift mental gears, challenging them to reorient themselves, pulling from their own mind and experiences to create their own logic in the continuity of these proceedings.
The Brodmann Areas
Julia K Gleich
Décor + Costumes:
Board of Directors
Friends of Norte Maar
Virginia Dwan (In honor of Julie Martin)
Elizabeth H. Gleich
Julia K Gleich
Ruth S Guydosh
Kristin Leiferman + Gerald Gleich
Michael Prodanou + Costantine Manos
Mary Vann Hughes
Charles Yoder (In honor of Julie Martin)