I have been very struck by Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet’s theory of the ‘third line’ (Dialogues ll, 1977) and their reference to Heinrich von Kelist’s ‘the soul of the dancer’ in his On the Marionette Theatre (1810) essay.
They argued that we are all made of lines, the first and second lines are about our social lives and events. the third line being “more strange: as if something carries us away, across our segments, but also across our threshold, towards a destination which is unknown, not foreseeable, not pre-existent, This line… is the most complex of all, the most torturous: it is the line of gravity or velocity, the line of flight and of the greatest gradient… this line has something exceeding mysterious. It is nothing other than the progression of the soul of the dancer…”
Kleist wrote referring to a conversation with Herr C., a leading dancer at the opera house, commenting on marionette theatre and the relationship between the puppeteer and the marionettes through a line which though may be considered from a purely mechanical viewpoint “viewed in another way, this line is something very mysterious. For it is nothing other than the path to the soul of the dancer, and Herr C. doubted that it could be proven otherwise that through this line the puppeteer placed himself in the center of gravity of the marionette; that is to say, in other words, that the puppeteer danced.”
I have used the animated outline of the dancers in movement as a metaphor for this mysterious line, which at the start and end of the appearance of the dancers comes into view, as a fleeting delineation of something of the essence of the dancers which is hidden and can be experienced in their movement and dance. The outline also reference the ‘dancers’ lines‘, which are the way their limbs extend through in space as they dance and their use of the space around them.
While drawing and animating these metaphoric forms, I become aware of what I hadn’t noted before, the sensation of drawing lines to animate them became itself a methaphor for the ‘third line’ – The flowing sensation in my fingers as they followed and drew outlines of the contours of the bodies, controlling the pressure on the pen to achieve fluid expressions, felt like another kind of ‘dance duet’ taking place, feeling the forms in my body and I drew them. Often a very floating feeling in the process, as though I and was dancing with the forms, with screen.
Is this another layer that adds to the possibility of the Screendance filmmaking artist, who through the line of peak-experience in the creative experience of dance, as the puppeteer, places herself, her camera and editing and interaction with screen, in the centre of gravity of the dancers and dances in the making of the film?
Can the experience be also considered a form of metacognition, metarepresentation, proprioception in peak-experience?
My experiment with animating “the soul of the dancer”!: