I observed firsthand the uncanny wisdom, talent, and dedication displayed in Clews' art. This supernatural inspiration sparked an ongoing period of research into the life and art of Clews. A first attempt to express these experiences occurred in my 1994 choreographic work, Henry's Own Words. After seven years of research I returned to the Chateau de la Napoule during the summer of 1998 for a week of on-site study and media collection.
Clews and I may have lived a world apart in space and time yet we unquestionably share a common existence. The key element which we share is an immeasurable love for our art. Clews once said, "It does not matter what you love but you must love something with all your heart and soul." Through the creation of Whistling Doves I have been allowed insight into Clews' experience, a lifetime of discipline, isolation, and inspiration. The driving motivation which has lead to the premiere of this evening of multimedia dance theater may be best described in the words of Clews, "When work stops, life stops, creation stops."
A Myth has crept into the annals of La Napoule that little silver flutes were attached, by Clews, to the wings of the doves which flew in his garden. Henry died in Lausanne in 1937 with a cage of his beloved white birds beside him. He was an old soul, one who has passed through many bodily forms and carried with him, in his subconscious, ancient memories and a remarkable knowledge of life. He may have even known that his present life was only a further chapter of the great book of his spiritual evolution.
Entering the Space
The entrance into Studio III takes one through a long “Gallery of Infinity” which was once part of a Sullivant Hall art museum. This manner of entry sets an atmosphere of mystery and fantasy as it is illuminated with twenty-three candles and resonates the sounds of medieval chants. Also on display in this castle-like space are a series of graphic reproductions of doors from Clews' castle. The live doves featured in the performance video footage, Mirth, Myth, Mystery, Fairy, and Sprite, are also on display.
As the performance begins, opening credits are projected on a small screen in letterbox dimensions. The subject matter is intended to further introduce and define location through a virtual tour through the architecture of the Chateau de La Napoule. A final scene in these credits portrays flight through a window and out across the ocean foreshadowing the free spirited nature which Henry now experiences. At the end of this introduction the video screen is raised to expose Glenn in the role of Clews. This might be seen in the tradition of Clews, as he enjoyed making a grand entrance into his social gatherings.
The opening section of Whistling Doves establishes the character of Clews through excerpts of text from a number of related writings. During this introduction the space is magically transformed while a white curtain, and projections of the curtain, slowly reveal an entire wall of mirrors. A live dove is included on the stage to illustrate Clews' fondness of white birds and to suggest the parallel development of two themes, the life cycle of the dove, and the artistic development of Clews.
The second solo of the evening further defines the character of Clews through the use of choreographed interactions with previously video taped footage of Glenn at the Chateau de La Napoule. The medieval lifestyle that Clews created in the 1920's and 1930's fuels the inspiration for Chevalier.
The section which follows represents the lifestyle of southern France during the 1920's and 1930's. The Riviera Society is represented in the form of animations of silhouetted costume designs from the period. The visual climax of this section fills the room with colorful figures engaged in social dance as the movement vocabulary plays on social greetings and aristocratic attitudes.
This section makes use of a large moon-shaped prop and a suspended rope. Counterbalance and tension are used to explore the inner thoughts of the artist. Various animations are projected onto the large prop making use of it as a projection screen as it moves throughout the space. A sense of isolation may be detected as experienced in the long hours Clews dedicated to working inside his studio. Ocean footage taken from Clews' childhood home, Newport, RI, created a surreal background for this section and offered the opportunity to link two time periods in Clews' life. Inner thought and memory became the underlying theme of Slicelight.
A lighter and more comical solo touches on the cleverness and light-hearted nature of Clews during his early year as a painter. An oversized paintbrush and artist's palette are used to interact with a virtual palette and virtual paintings created with video projections throughout this section.
Castelan is a look behind many of the doors of the Chateau. This abstract tour includes a journey into the studio of Clews, the Chateau gardens, and other mysterious spaces. Projections are seen on the studio floor bringing to view another aspect of the dimensional canvas.
After a quick costume change during Castelan, Glenn reenters the space and dances a lyrical solo which responds to an animated, projection of the "God of Humormystics" and "The Thinker". This section resolves in immortality as life is drained from the movement in the manner in which life was drained from "The Thinker" in his quest for enlightenment.
A horizontal procession carries Glenn across the space as his image is projected along the back wall. The virtual image contains a dove which flutters its wings along the journey. As the figures progress across the space significant moments in the life of Clews are revealed through cross-dissolving video images. Once the destination across the room has been reached an illusion of ascension is created as the entire room seems to rise. During this spiritual transformation, which represents the journey of Clews' spirit out of the tomb and into the sealed room above, an elaborate burial robe rises from the white, feather-filled floor. Glenn makes the metaphorical transformation into a dove-like spirit to complete the following sections which suggest a peaceful afterlife.
As Glenn arrives inside the sealed room above the tomb he begins to explore a new form of existence. A sense of freedom and happiness is experienced as the space is magically transformed as fifty pounds of feathers gradually float down from above. Multiple images of Glenn are projected during this section suggesting a group dance, or flock of doves, with all roles performed by Glenn himself. The climax of the evening occurs near the end of this section as reflections of the space are projected on the walls creating an infinity space containing footage of Glenn dancing in the flowing cape, flying through the air on the rope used in an earlier section.
The final section acts as a farewell, or reverence. As Glenn backs away down a long, diagonal, pathway images of the screen rising which originally exposed the dancing figure are projected. Each rising screen reveals glimpses of the evening's solos. This recapitulation of the major moments of the evening concludes as Glenn runs behind a side screen and two silhouetted images are seen progressing from opposite corners of the space. These two silhouetted spirits make their way down the long corridor of archways and are united within a virtual space. At this moment an infinite number of animated doves fly from the focal point of spiritual unity and fill the room once again with motion. The lights fade.
"When work stops, life stops, creation stops."
Lord of Lumens and King of Production ................... David Covey
First Lad to the King of Production ............................. John Bohuslawsky
Knight of Props, Costumes, and Set Design ............... Tim Glenn
Mayor of Guest Videography ..................................... John T. Meyer
Souls of Technical Technique ................... Christine Chen, JoAnna Norris, Daryse Osborne, Michael Thomas, Ann Yee
Emperor of House Management................................. Jim Cappelletti
Damsel of Gallery Management ................................ Hadassah Segal
Imp of Video Documentation .................................... Shawn Coyle
Demon of Sound Supervision .................................... Steve Perakis
Sculptor of Studio Models ......................................... William Rich
Portrait of Poster Makers........................................... Tim Glenn
Program Designers and Constructioneers ...................William Rich and Tim Glenn
Bankers of Box Officery ............................. Ellie Brockman with James Jewett, Meida McNeal,Joan Nicholas-Walker, Andrea Woods
Doves of the Air.................................. Mirth, Myth, Mystery, Fairy, Sprite
Musical Selections - Cathedral Pines, First Ride, Full Circle, Morning Duet, New Friend, and Pictures in a Pond by Eugene Friesen, The 1st Night, The 2nd Night, and The 3rd Night by Stephan Micus, Parlez-Moi D'Amour by Jean Lenoir, Selections from Fantasia de Paris by D. Leonoir and Jerome Kern, Andante from Concerto No. 2 by Dimitri Shostakovich, Du Soleil Dans Ses Yeux by Damia, sound collage and vocal text by Tim Glenn
OSU Department of Dance, Emerging Technologies Studio, John T. Meyer, William Rich, James and Barbara Glenn, Fondation d'Art de La Napoule (Patricia Corbett, Director General and Nelcy Fourriques, Assistant Director), Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis, Newport Art Museum (Judith Sobol, Director), Karen Bell, Ellie Brockman, Valarie Williams, Rosalind Pierson, Michael Miller, Dennis Parker and the OSU Department of Theatre, Vera Blaine, Michael Kelly Bruce, Victoria Uris, Natalie Gilbert, Viki Dennis-Jones, Traci Temple, Michael Thomas, Shawn Coyle, Hadassah Segal, Ann Yee
MFA Committee Members: Angelika Gerbes (Chair), and John Giffin; Dave Covey and Will Smith (resources)
Numerous images seen in the performance are courtesy of the Fondation d'Art de La Napoule, Margaret S. Clews, and the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI. The images displayed in the Gallery of Infinity were taken from the Chateau de La Napoule. Many of the doors were designed and created by Henry Clews, Jr.
The premiere of Whistling Doves was made possible through the use of the following technologies: Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Pagemaker, Macromedia Director, AVID - Media Suite Pro, SoundEdit 16, Toast CD-ROM Pro.
Whistling Doves is presented in partial fulfillment of the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance for Tim Glenn from The Ohio State University.
No smoking or unauthorized use of recording devices. Merci.
Karen Bell, Chair - Department of Dance
Judith Koroscik, Dean - College of the Arts