Dancer as RNA Polymerase


To be honest, the first thing I think of when someone says ‘transcription’ I think of RNA being created in the cell. At first I tried to get myself to stop thinking about that, to focus on the prompt we were given and not worry about the RNA polymerase moving down a strand of DNA. I was listening to Jay-Z trying to stop when he did and continue when he decided not to take a breath. No matter how many times I listened to that song, even after learning the words, I still felt like I couldn’t capture the texture of his voice. However, when I allowed myself to think and behave like an RNA polymerase with the voice of Jay-Z or Coltrane’s horn as the DNA, I was better able to see my role in the transcription.

My job was to generate movement that was mapped out by the specific part of the song, but I didn’t have to replicate it – not exactly anyway. I was to use the song as a template, creating a complement to the section I was focusing. When generating a complement, I am following the path presented by Buju Banton, stoping when I encounter a pause (or for the RNA polymerase – a break in the strand waiting for it to be fixed before continuing) or falling off when I reach the end. A key component though is that I am not producing an exact copy of the strand; I am incorporating my own bases/movement suggested by the template. From my transcription, the phrase that I create can be used to recreate the original template. This is exactly what Amanda and Courtney have been trying to get us to understand/do. They have asked us to perform and observe phrases to “Giant Steps” without the music being played to see if we can hear the horn in the movement of the dancers alone. Our movement should produce the timing and texture of Coltrane’s horn, while staying true to our personal movement style. Each time we have worked on this, I have seen and felt improvement from everyone and can hear Coltrane’s horn as we move together. I look forward to our continued work on transpiration and seeing how we capture the essence of RNA polymerases.