gilana: (Default)
I went to see Savion Glover tonight. He's an amazing tap dancer -- watching his feet move so fast that a cloud of dust rose from the stage, I could easily believe that it was actually smoke, and that he would end up engulfed in a pillar of flame created by a pair of magic shoes.

But what struck me most about his performance in the end was the specificity, which is something I've been thinking about a lot for a while now. Savion knows exactly what sound every fraction of every inch on his shoe will make, how those sounds will differ on every section of the stage, and how to use those sounds softly or loudly and fast or slow to create amazing patterns and soundscapes that somehow end up expressing something. It's not just a matter of a shuffle or a toe dig; he has an entirely vocabulary that is miles beyond what most dancers can do, and he uses it intentionally.

It's the same in design. Some people might choose to use a sans serif font, and just go with Arial or Helvetica, where I might choose Univers 47 Condensed Light at 10/12 leading tracked out to 10.

It's there in writing; a rose might be red, or it could be a deep velvety crimson. A person can say something, or they can cry it, whisper it haltingly, mutter it… I'm not a writer, but you get what I mean.

I've been struggling over the past few years to really grok specificity in acting. I think I've made some progress on gesture -- I'm trying to move away from just waving my hands about, as we often do in normal conversation, and more toward specific choices, for example, a reaching motion that comes from the shoulder and uses the space around me, and that gets held until a specific beat in the scene. The harder part for me to pin down is in intention -- making emotions specific, figuring out precise relationships, knowing what I want from the other characters… there's a lot to work on there.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that there is specificity to be found in everything -- in painting, in cooking, in clothing, in speech. So! Where do you find it in your life? I challenge you to think about some of your choices over the next day or two and share with me some stories of where specificity matters to you, and if you feel making more specific choices makes a difference.
gilana: (Default)
I went to see Savion Glover tonight. He's an amazing tap dancer -- watching his feet move so fast that a cloud of dust rose from the stage, I could easily believe that it was actually smoke, and that he would end up engulfed in a pillar of flame created by a pair of magic shoes.

But what struck me most about his performance in the end was the specificity, which is something I've been thinking about a lot for a while now. Savion knows exactly what sound every fraction of every inch on his shoe will make, how those sounds will differ on every section of the stage, and how to use those sounds softly or loudly and fast or slow to create amazing patterns and soundscapes that somehow end up expressing something. It's not just a matter of a shuffle or a toe dig; he has an entirely vocabulary that is miles beyond what most dancers can do, and he uses it intentionally.

It's the same in design. Some people might choose to use a sans serif font, and just go with Arial or Helvetica, where I might choose Univers 47 Condensed Light at 10/12 leading tracked out to 10.

It's there in writing; a rose might be red, or it could be a deep velvety crimson. A person can say something, or they can cry it, whisper it haltingly, mutter it… I'm not a writer, but you get what I mean.

I've been struggling over the past few years to really grok specificity in acting. I think I've made some progress on gesture -- I'm trying to move away from just waving my hands about, as we often do in normal conversation, and more toward specific choices, for example, a reaching motion that comes from the shoulder and uses the space around me, and that gets held until a specific beat in the scene. The harder part for me to pin down is in intention -- making emotions specific, figuring out precise relationships, knowing what I want from the other characters… there's a lot to work on there.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that there is specificity to be found in everything -- in painting, in cooking, in clothing, in speech. So! Where do you find it in your life? I challenge you to think about some of your choices over the next day or two and share with me some stories of where specificity matters to you, and if you feel making more specific choices makes a difference.

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