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Dance Ink

Dance Ink 01

Volume 8, Number 2 of Dance Ink presents a collaboration between the celebrated choreographer Pam Tanowitz and dancer Melissa Toogood, documented by Pari Dukovic, the award-winning photographer whose work is featured in The New Yorker. Conceived and designed by Pentagram and Dance Ink publisher Patsy Tarr, the issue makes connections between the lines of dance performance and the graphic language of letterforms, and pays tribute to an iconic modernist work of dance and design.

The designers were inspired by the Czech modernist artist Karel Teige and his Abeceda (1926), a landmark work of European modernism that collected innovative designs for a Jazz Age alphabet created by Teige, choreographed by Czech dancer Milca Mayerova and photographed by Teige. The resulting play between Teige’s “musical typography” and Milca’s choreographic response to it has been described as “the alphabet as a photo ballet.”

Exploring Teige’s idea, the designers chose selections from Tanowitz’s live, on-the-spot choreography, executed by Toogood and captured by Dukovic. The designers developed the graphic connections between the two languages, linking the lines of letterforms with the movements of the choreography, creating a series of formalist duets between the choreographer and the dancer, and the dancer and the alphabet.

For Dance Ink, the designers reversed Teige’s creative process. Where Mayerova choreographed poses to imitate the alphabet that Teige had created, Miller reviewed Dukovic’s dramatic black-and-white photos of Tanowitz’s work in search of moves that suggested letters. In effect, Miller deconstructed the dance from the photographs to create an alphabet from within. The images of Toogood have been layered on a series of original letterforms that echo her movements, transforming the dance into an alphabet, from A to Z. The graphics are complemented by a bold geometric costume by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung.

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In her introductory essay, Dance Ink senior editor Nancy Dalva writes about choreography as design: “(Miller) knowingly and ingeniously has flipped the paradigm of dancers creating shapes of letters to spell messages. Instead, he finds the hidden ingredients of language within the dancing.”

The 36-page issue is presented in an oversized format of 10 by 14 1/4 inches, beautifully produced with high-quality offset printing in a french fold and housed in a clear vinyl jacket that enhances its tactility. Available for order here.

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