Terpsichore’s Deck [turp-sik-uh-ree, named after the muse of dance] was created as a tangible way to bring choreographic tools out of the textbook and into the studio. It is an instructional and inspirational creative text for novice and advanced dance makers to explore choreographic principles. The cards, numbered 1-52, outline different ideas and elements used in choreography and composition. Through poetic language and provocative questions, each card describes a different aspect of choreography for the user to consider.
The cards can be read in the given order as a way of investigating concepts of choreography from the external to the internal. The cards start with broader, more fundamental aspects of creating work. What is the venue being used in the performance? How far are the performers from the audience? The cards move through spatial relationships and movement principles, looking at pathways and levels. The deck culminates with a subtle look at elements of performativity and more esoteric aspects of dance, examining focus, intention, and the internal dialogue of each dancer.
This deck can also be used as a playful way to explore and experiment with different choreographic tools. Choosing a card at random and using it as compositional or improvisational inspiration may offer insight or illuminate new choreographic possibilities.
Just as there is no right or wrong way to create art and dance, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions posed in the deck. The ideas put forth on each card are designed to lead the user into furthering their own thoughts about creating dance. They offer different avenues to delving into and probing the artist’s material and design.
This deck was originally conceived during “Choreography and Design” a Graduate Seminar led by Chris Aiken at Smith College in Spring, 2013. The assignment was to create a document of choreographic and design principles and ideas that could be used in personal creative projects and as a choreographic teaching aid. Like many creative gatherings, the particular group of colleagues working together in “Choreography and Design” helped to shape the initial thoughts and ideas contained within the deck. Special thanks to Smith College faculty Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser, and colleagues Shaina Cantino, Sara Coffin, Melissa Edwards, Mat Elder, Safi Harriott, Kelly Silliman, and Cat Wagner.
This deck is dedicated in memory of my mother and fellow dancer, Maren Meyer Larson Falck.