“Art speaks where words are unable to explain.” Art is an emotion that communicates to express an idea alluring you to know more about the emotion wanting to be expressed. On the other hand, architecture is that form of art that thrives with and around the space. It would not be wrong if I call architecture a spatial art form. 

The similarity that exists between the two unsaid emotions is that they want to be expressed. They want us to know what they have gone through all these years. It’s the emotion of a particular piece or place that creates an urge in people to imbibe those vibes again to relive those emotions that could be felt while moving past those mere pieces of blocks. 

Isn’t it strange how just positioning a building in a particular way changes the emotions from a happy mood to a sad one? Walking past the ice cream parlor that you used to go years back brings nostalgia in your eyes while the same movement made through a museum makes you cringe about how boring those memories used to be. 

Do you see how just changing the movement traded the emotions of these edifices and artwork? Art is anything that helps in expressing more and less in drawing. One such art that I am going to discuss is the art of dance.

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Moving as in dance_©https://www.archiscene.net

Dance is the moving of the body in a given space. It is one of the most powerful ways of experiencing a space as dancing is all about going with the flow. A dialogue between a moving body and a space is what brings the two art forms together. 

According to Zehra Ersoy, “We can all be dancers as long as we can develop an exquisite consciousness of our bodily experiences and movement in space.” This clearly indicates that a better understanding of experiences with the body and the movement in space after studying dance can be a great way for the designers to enrich their spatial awareness.

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The Similarity between architecture and dance - Sheet2
©www.pinterest.co.uk

Over the years dance has evolved in the type of forms and the experiential quality that they have. From being in the posture of a Tandava symbolizing wind, storm and earthquake to expanding the art form in different techniques, style and form, dance as art has advanced with centuries to come. It is only after the 20th century that the choreographers and dancers got the freedom to express themselves and develop their own styles and theories of choreographies. 

Dance engages the movement of a body in space while architecture entails the user to step around in the space to experience the flow. But as it’s always said: unlike poles attract each other. There have to be some similarities between the two arts that together connect the user to the building and also bring in the emotions that are required. 

Architecture and dance both are kinds of spatial expressions which are being experienced through shaping physical forms. Architecture being static and dance being mobile in nature, both the orders are tested through the measuring of time. 

The study of movements of an individual, his walking around the room and his choice of direction and reaction to certain spaces is what brings in the similarity between the two. The character of a space and physical boundaries is what clearly defines architecture and dance as a whole.

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Event notation by Bernard Tschumi_www.tschumi.com

Drawing plays a very important role in the symbolization of ideas for an architect as they never work directly with their subject of creation. On the other hand, in the other disciplines of art such as the art of making sculptures, dance, music, etc., the artists always have a chance to fashion objects according to their fascination and development. 

It was in the year 1920-1930 when Rudolf Laban developed a notational system called the Labanotation. It was a geometrical record of every move performed by the dancer which was similar to a plan and section drawing in architecture, where every symbol stood for some specific instruction. It is truly said that architecture is a creation of human movements that creates a shape by just understanding the emotion of the particular art form. 

According to Laban, the movement can start from any point in the body depending upon the experience that space is providing to that particular individual. Though this style of Labanotation could not be implemented in the buildings but surely had a great impact on envisioning the perspective of seeing buildings not just based on random forms but also on the basis of the dance form one would represent. 

One such example given to us by Laban himself was the concept of the Kinesphere where the length of the limbs and all movements within the limits originated at the centre of the body forming an icosahedron.

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Labon’s type of dance_anastasiagalicheva.com

According to the 8 laws of artistic experience by V.S. Ramachandran and Willam Hirstein dance and its form were based on ambiguity, contrast, isolation, and metaphor. If I am not wrong and I have done my 5 years of architecture right, aren’t they similar to the principles of designing a building in architecture? Yes, they are. 

One can now truly imagine that just putting together two types of art forms together can bring a revolution in the way the architects think to design. Not everything that we design needs to have a geometrical form. It’s okay to add emotions sometimes.

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TESSERACTS OF TIME: A DANCE FOR ARCHITECTURE BY STEVEN HOLL ARCHITECTS 

In this project led by Steven Holl, both Architecture and dance disclose a passion for space and light in time even though they are on the opposite ends of the spectrum with respect to time. Architecture is an art of long duration, while the comprehension of a dance piece can be a quick process and the work fades as the performance of it unfolds. It is here where the two arts merge to form a masterpiece. 

Relating to the four seasons the alliance between choreographer Jessica Lang and architect Steven Holl unites dance and architecture in a compression of time and space. The four sections of the dance relate to the 4 kinds of architecture namely: under the ground, in the ground, on the ground, and over the ground.

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The first section of ‘under’ commences with a gradual movement of sunlight coming from above, rushing across the curved interior spaces of the architecture. The dance tangibly trembles in the dark shadows of the stage. Dancers are robbed in black geometric and angular costumes. 

For the second section of ‘in’, compacted spatial arrangements filled in deep light are proposed in film. The dance movement resists gravity and discovers geometry with emotional expression. Space and body in black and white work in synchrony with the minimalist piano music Patterns in a Chromatic Field by Morton Feldman. 

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Perceptional study by steven holls_divisare.com

The third section of ‘on’ which is all in white discloses on stage three twelve-foot-tall Tesseract Fragments. The tesseract is the four-dimensional analogue of a cube in geometry. The fourth section of ‘over’, starts with the pressure of sound and energy as the Tesseracts rise upwards. Distinct from the previous sections, bursting colour abundances the stage with dancers in asymmetrical colours of oranges and reds.

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Conceptional drawing of the spaces _divisare.com
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OVER SECTION OF BUILDING_divisare.com
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3D VIEW OF TESSERACTS OF TIME_divisare.com

STEVIE ELLER DANCE THEATRE

It is a good example for buildings that take dance as an inspiration. It is a 295 seater auditorium near the eastern gateway of the University of Arizona campus. Apart from the auditorium it also consists of a dance studio, a scene shop, and costume shops. The concept behind this building was a father and daughter’s journey to find a notable college dance program. The architects of this project took inspiration from Balanchine’s ballet, i.e., the “Serenade” as it had to be enacted in this auditorium by the daughter. 

The designers worked really hard to understand dance and its movements. They also studied the art of Labanotation, a method of graphically depicting choreography. After studying the notations what appeared was a matrix of points that turned out to be the locations of the dancing columns that were supporting the second-floor dance studio. Hence, a random rhythm was developed from the dance choreography. 

The wire screens on the east elevation may seem to be present only for aesthetic purposes but they acted as a buffer for the dance studio from the brutal desert sun. The architects took inspiration from the dance to come to a creative approach for this project. We can say that the visual qualities of dance can be seen in terms of form and rhythm.

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Interior of Stevie Eller_©http://invitationtoinspiration.blogspot.com/

HARPA CONCERT HALL, ICELAND

This project is inspired by the northern lights and dramatic Icelandic scenery. This project is placed on the border between land and sea. The landmark project reveals the harbour and the life of the city. The concert hall and conference centre is set with a clear view of the sea and the mountains near Reykjavik. 

The building structures a foyer area in the front with four halls in the middle and a backstage area with offices, administration, rehearsal hall, and changing room in the back of the edifice. The largest auditorium, Eldborg, is titled after a well-known volcanic crater in Iceland. Eldborg signifies “Fire Mountain”. This auditorium, which seats up to 1,800 guests, develops the red-hot powerhouse of Harpa’s inner core. 

The auditorium is made in concrete and textured with a red-varnished birch veneer. Modifiable sound chambers around the auditorium enhance up to 30 percent more volume and make it possible to control the reverberation time. Harpa denotes ‘harp’ in Icelandic. 

The main notion behind the facade concept was to reconsider the building as a static unit, permitting it to respond dynamically to the changing colours of the surroundings. In the daytime, the geometric figures form a crystalline structure that seizures and reflects the light and commences a dialogue between the building, city, and natural scenery. 

At night, the facades are well-lit by LED lights. The geometric facades were grounded on a modular, space-filling structure called the quasi brick. The blend of regularity and irregularity in the units lends the façades a chaotic, capricious quality that could not be attained through stacking cubes. As a result, the façades for Harpa are both aesthetically and functionally vital to the building.

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INTERIOR OF HARPA CONCERT HALL_architizer.com
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EXTERIOR OF HARPA CONCERT HALL_architizer.com
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AUDITORIIUM OF HARPA HALL_architizer.com
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LAKE VIEW OF HARPA CONCERT HALL_architizer.com

LABAN DANCE CENTRE, LONDON

This dance centre is a portion of Trinity Laban Conservatoire Of Music and Dance positioned in Greenwich. The most distinguishing feature is its façade that comprises transparent glass panels. Coloured, transparent polycarbonate panels are attached in front of the glass panels to work as a protective shield and contribute to the overall energy system. 

All activities are mingled and distributed on only 2 main levels. This endorses communication within the entire edifice. The large theatre is the heart of Laban and is located in the centre of the building. The upper-storey comprises most of the studios generating a dense fabric, like that of an urban centre where each studio has a different size, height, form, and colour. It provides 2 spiral-shaped related stairways. Colours govern the rhythm and orientation both inside and outside the

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LABON DANCE CENTRE_virginia-duran.com
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SPIRAL STAIRCASE OF LABON DANCE CENTRE_virginia-duran.com
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PLAN OF LABON DANCE THEATRE_virginia-duran.com

SALA SA̴O PAULO,BRAZIL

The Sala São Paulo Cultural Centre is located in the Júlio Prestes Train Station in the old north-central section of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The architect planned this project in an eclectic style which he described as neoclassical Louis XVI style which was a reaction to the baroque style. He was also clearly swayed by the old Pennsylvania Station in New York, which was damaged to give way to the building of the Madison Square Garden. 

Sala São Paulo has 22 balconies at the mezzanine and first floor levels. They are sited between large columns and an adjustable ceiling. Its floor space is 10,000 square meters and the ceiling is 24 m high. The 320 m platform was purposefully built to offer total visibility. It has movable risers which allow choir and orchestra to replace in mid-concert as well as a stage elevator for a piano. 

The acoustic project was wisely designed to nullify vibrations caused by the constant movement of trains. For this reason, the main hall’s 15 cm thick floating floor was constructed on an immense neoprene slab which works as a massive wedge between 2 concrete layers ruled with Brazilian walnut, an ideal material for absorbing noise.

The adjustable ceiling is hung 25 m above the main floor. It consists of 15 panels, each weighing 7.5 tons, and is held by 20 cable coils. The panels can be independently controlled, letting the volume of the hall to be adjusted to between 12000 and 28000 cubic meters. 

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INTERIOR OF SALA SAO PAULO_en.wikipedia.org
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EXTERIOR OF SALA SAO PAULO_en.wikipedia.org

References

11 Amazing Dance Schools Worldwide | Virginia Duran. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://virginia-duran.com/2017/08/22/11-amazing-dance-schools-worldwide/

160 LABAN DANCE CENTRE – HERZOG & DE MEURON. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.herzogdemeuron.com/index/projects/complete-works/151-175/160-laban-dance-centre.html

Architectural Details: The Crystalline Façades of Iceland’s Harpa Concert Hall – Architizer Journal. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://architizer.com/blog/practice/details/harpa-concert-hall/

DANCE & ARCHITECTURE: Choreographing Engagement between Body & Space dessertation by Sukruti Jain – issuu. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://issuu.com/sukrutijain/docs/dance___architecture_-_choreographi

Sala São Paulo – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sala_São_Paulo

STEVEN HOLL ARCHITECTS · Tesseracts of Time: A Dance for Architecture · Divisare. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://divisare.com/projects/303047-steven-holl-architects-tesseracts-of-time-a-dance-for-architecture

Mansi Mattoo
Author

Mansi is pursuing her graduation from SMVDU, Jand K. She is an avid nature lover and in the perfect environment to pursue her architecture dreams. She looks to becoming the voice for the unspoken emotions depicted in the world of architecture. A keen observer and hard worker is what describes her well.

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