About

Contemporary dance fuels me as a painter by presenting beautiful, passionate, emotional, and extraordinary movements of the body in space. Often relying upon memory, my work re-imagines dance sequences that I have experienced emotionally as well as visually. I work with a variety of media, especially water-based paints, to create worlds of theatrical dance through drips, splashes, and rivulets of colour.

 

As a long-time student of yoga, I have a keen personal and artistic interest in how the body moves. For me, dancers are akin to painters: using their bodies, they too draw, incise, and push into space. The process of recreating their balletic movements is complicated, sometimes frustrating, and often challenging, but it is ultimately exhilarating.

 My work springs from varied sources: I work with dancers, sketch at performances, or employ photographic stills or video. As I watch the dancers on stage, I am intrigued by the physical space in which they move, particularly the interplay between their bodies, the stage boundaries, theatrical lighting, and darkness. My work reinterprets these interactions through colour and abstraction, and expresses my intuitive and creative responses to dance today.

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‘Choreography is a negotiation with the patterns your body is thinking’
Jonathan Burrows, A Choreographer’s Handbook

When she sets out to create a drawing or a painting of dance, Jane feels as if she is taking part in a performance, capturing shapes and patterns on paper in the same way a choreographer might negotiate with his or her internal shapes and patterns to manifest them in space.

Nevertheless, there is an apparent contradiction, since all dance is built on the notion of movement whereas the lines, colours and shapes are fixed in space and time on the canvas or paper. If we look closer, however, the essence of dance is the opposition and release of opposing forces within the body around a still point, so that what we notice is not so much the movement as the stillness: those split-second moments of perfect equilibrium that make sense of all the preceding movement, be it in the air or on the ground. It is those moments that Jane aims to capture in her blind, lightning sketches in the dark, coaxing the hand to wrest the stillness from the moving eye.

‘Trip the Light Fantastic’ is, originally a dance term, referring to nimble footwork. In drawing dance, Jane is more concerned with nimble fingers, madly marking the paper with movement. Where she succeeds, it is as if the shapes and patterns she sees on stage somehow correspond closely with her own visual understanding of the dance, transforming the gap between stage and paper to vicarious performance.


Nicholas Minns
www.writingaboutdance.com
— www.writingaboutdance.com

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Tel: Jane Denman

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