First Skype Meeting with Julian!

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hey there Colby!

Today Logan and I had our first skype meeting with Julian Barnett- therefore it is safe to say that it was a pretty awesome day.  He called us from the Netherlands where he is doing graduate work on dance.

Julian talked to us about Float, his choreographic process, and his intentions for the piece and the dancers.  In Float, which was amazingly Julian’s first piece, he sought to explore and experiment with the limitations of the body.  Julian feels that this piece represents a reflection into childhood as well as the experience of being torn between childhood and adulthood.

The intensity of this life transition is amplified by the tension between the two people. Julian created this piece when was he was 24 years old.  As a recent college graduate he felt that his friends were being torn away from him, everyone spiraling into a different life direction. Julian explained that for him this piece was a way of saying “farewell.” The tension can also be seen through the relationship between the dancers, which represents a friendship and kinship with the possibility of an underlying romance.  He sees the piece as being an open door for discovering meaning.  The decision must be made by the dancers as well as the audience.  Julian urged us not to get stuck in a literal interpretation and to instead focus on the “nostalgic reflection” that can partner with many possibilities.

In our discussion of Float, Julian kept returning to the idea of tension, which is found in the physical body, between the two dancers, and between the dancers and the audience.  This tension is what makes the piece real and not simply a representation. Julian stressed that each performance must be real, tangible, and new.  For him, dancing is not acting but living a new experience each time the dance is performed.

After Julian talked with us about Float we preformed the dance for him twice.  His notes were extremely helpful and ranged from corrections on specific movements and actions to overarching suggestions to keep in mind for the entire piece.  He wanted us to focus on the idea of action and reaction.  In order to achieve this we need to depend more on one another and find where each action and reaction begins.  Julian also stressed that each moment, whether between or during a move, must be full. Dance is not just a series of movements but a connecting progression of of actions, intentions and emotions.

Overall the meeting was very enlightening and I can’t wait to work on his suggestions and meet with him again in two weeks.  Meeting with Julian makes the whole process feel very real and professional.

Have a great weekend Colby!


  1. Great work, so far, Ellie and Logan. (I know you were thinking about physical practices in the naming of your project, but mediated communication overseas can certainly be considered “contemporary contact.”) I’m happy to hear that you had a fruitful first meeting with Julian, and this seems as though it is a crucial turning point for you both and for the (next) life of the piece.

    In this post, you articulate a number of concerns, beyond the physical execution of the movement, which, it seems to me, invite room for discovery through the process of learning existing choreography and will help you deepen your embodiment of the piece both technically and performatively. Examining the shifting, dynamic relationships between intention, action, and reaction in real time, even in the execution of learned patterns of movement becomes an exercise in presence and a fundamental part of working in an ephemeral form–keep returning to Julian’s idea of: “real, tangible, and new.”

    Now, what is the work of transforming these evocative concepts into physical practice, how do you integrate thought into action, and where does the intellectual become physical and technical? And vice versa. For example, how does freeing the scapula to move on the back facilitate deeper investigation of these ideas? We cycle back to the connection between action, intention, and reaction in time, space, quality, dynamic, and WEIGHT.

    You have jumped right into the process and are already (and quickly) finding important links between several lines of inquiry and execution. Keep it up! This is exciting.

  2. loganellie says:

    Awesome recap of the meeting, Ellie! It was definitely refreshing and reassuring to see how easygoing Julian was. When we described our dancing backgrounds to him (mine being especially unimpressive by professional standards), he seemed to embrace the lack of “technique” we possessed, even suggesting that this gave us more freedom in the physical interpretation and personalization of Float. Julian really pushed for us to make this piece as personal as possible, reflecting on our own past and present experiences to mold the emotional driving forces behind our movements.

    As a senior, I can absolutely relate to Julian’s idea of leaving college friends and the theme of “farewell” that is a large part of the tension between the dancers. Thinking about those ideas during each rehearsal and performance will allow me to truly connect to real emotions and the actions/reactions in the movements, putting me in a position to balance the “acting” aspect of dance with the reality of being a graduating student who will soon move on to the next phase of my life.

    It was great to hear Julian’s feedback of our progress so far and his comments will definitely help in refining our interpretations. Hearing how much freedom he wants us to have in the movements of Float relieved a lot of anxiety since it opened up the door for my true, unfiltered expressions to emerge. I’m really looking forward to seeing how our next rehearsal is different/better!


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