Recently I am reading a book about Auguste Rodin’s studies about dancing body for his sculpture. Rodin took interesting references and inspiration from dance when he hoped to break the limit of sculpture, at the same time, several choreographers looked to sculpture as inspiration to reinvent the medium of dance.

Rodin paid great attention in the evolving dance: Cambodian Royal Ballet troup, applying large range of body movement (opposite to the convention of ballet at that era), which formed a greater contrast (also co-existence) and rhythm between motion and stillness; Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreographic debut, showing high respect to ancient Greek poem, orienting and compressing dancers’ body into flat plane, which condensed the motion into stillness.

Rodin also got inspiration from Loie Fuller’s revolutionary dance such as Hand Dance (1914), applying immaterial presences (such as light and sound) into dance, which focused more on visual effect rather than the conventional body performance. She had sent some photos to Rodin that recording her dancing image, which highly focused on the composition constructed by the dancing body cutting through the space.

These are interesting references about the leap between different arts: dance and sculpture, and for me, the most interesting factor is the leap between the mediums’ properties which were thought to be opposite: transitoriness and persistence; motion and stillness; spacial experience and visual image etc. Such plucky leap reminds me Oskar Schlemmer’s geometric choreography as well, which seems transferred into a more completed form, but hence at the same time, less awaiting. The conservation and collaboration between Rodin and the choreographers was more initial, more original, and seemed more exploitable to further branches.


Wai Kit Chan (Hector)