Contemporary dance has always been a platform for experimentation and pushing boundaries, and the recent collaboration between ballet and action film music is a testament to this. In a thought-provoking project, a contemporary dance company worked with award-winning film composer Mark Slater to blend the elegance of ballet with the intense and dramatic soundtracks of action films, such as “Aliens” composed by James Horner. This unique combination invites the audience to delve into the complex relationship between music and it’s use to portray human physical strength and mental toughness, while adding a touch of irony and humor through the choreography.

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.”

Martha Graham

The project aims to examine how music can represent and evoke emotions associated with human aggression, power, and conflict, but also seeks to show how our interpretation is not inevitable. By juxtaposing the graceful movements of ballet with the powerful and adrenaline-inducing music from action films, the dancers create a captivating visual and auditory experience. The contrast between the delicate and precise ballet techniques and the intense, pulsating rhythms of the music highlights the tension and dichotomy between vulnerability and strength.

Music in Hollywood action films often uses orchestral arrangements, electronic music, and heavy percussion to create a sense of urgency and excitement

Spotlight on Stereotypes: Contemporary Dance’s Take on Hollywood Action

Action films typically display a type of energy we associate with the masculine, even where the protagonists are female characters. Masculinity in music is a complex and multifaceted topic that has been explored through various genres and periods. It often involves the representation of stereotypical masculine traits such as strength, dominance, and aggression. These characteristics are frequently expressed through powerful, bold, and assertive musical elements.

An image representing stereotypical action films

By using contemporary dance and balletic movements the choreography adds an element of contradiction to the music. The dancers skillfully incorporate ironic gestures and exaggerated movements, challenging the traditional notions we associate with the action genre. This clever approach encourages the audience to question societal norms and stereotypes, particularly the gestures we associate with tough and strong, while also providing a fresh and engaging perspective on the use of orchestral music to represent human or superhuman potency in Hollywood films.

Making Waves: The Social Impact of Dance and Music

Through this innovative project, the audience is invited to reflect on the ways in which music can shape our emotional responses and perceptions. The combination of ballet and action film music offers a unique lens to explore the complexities of human nature, allowing for a deeper understanding of the emotions that drive us.

Let’s imagine the scene: a well-lit stage, the dramatic hum of action music. You may be picturing jaw-dropping stunts and reckless heroism – typical elements associated with Hollywood action sequences. But thanks to this project, what you experience instead, might surprise and captivate you. 

Compagnie Hervé Koubi performing contemporary dance
Compagnie Hervé Koubi performing. Photography by Yi-Chun Wu.

This isn’t a typical visual depiction of an action scene, but a powerful reinterpretation through contemporary dance. The dancers’ gestures not only stir emotions but also challenge the stereotypical imagery we hold about Hollywood action. The project presents a juxtaposition between our expectations and reality, prompting us to delve deeper into our understanding and sensitivity towards the underlying emotional narrative behind dramatic scenes. 

Encouraging viewers to uncover this emotional layer within action soundtracks, human bellicosity, and reinterpret them through dance, this project reflects the vast and profound influence of music in shaping our perceptions and molds them into something tangible, something real, something beautiful.

Be it an explosion or a chase, a win or a loss, it’s all being redefined, unwrapped and beautifully expressed through the medium of contemporary dance. This project is undoubtedly a testament to the creative power of reinterpretation, signaling a significant transformation in the world of performing arts.

In conclusion, combining contemporary dance and balletic movement with the normative gestures of action music from films of the last 50 years provides a thought-provoking and visually stunning experience. This innovative collaboration serves as a testament to the power of art in sparking introspection and dialogue.


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