Project Motion

A Landscape is a Series of Dancers Moving Through Time and Space.

"Motion" is....

an exciting and innovative effort between abstract landscape painter Marlene Rye and choreographer/dancer Beth Rye Znosko.  “Motion” explores the line between the visual and performing arts. The division melts away as dance and live painting converse and interweave in a dynamic interplay of creative expression. Freshly applied paint and moving bodies speak to one another as painter and dancers share the creative process in real time, inspiring and accenting as they lift each other to new vistas.

The seed for “Motion” came about because Rye, an abstract landscape painter, sees the landscape as a series of figures moving through time and space.  Trees, vines and under story react to each other and the ground in an organic and anthropomorphic fashion. As quoted in the Look Book a publication of One Artist Road in Santa Fe, “Rye paints nature through the eyes of a child, capturing the magical and revealing that secret space where trees are dancers, circus performers, magicians, and all things fantastical.”

The first debut of “Motion” was at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton Massachusetts in July of 2013.  The opening, which was widely attended, showed the process to the public of how Rye makes her landscape paintings using dancers as inspiration of mark and shape in her work.  The viewers got to see “Motion” in action, and the consensus was that the connection was very clear and exciting!  Not only did Rye paint at the opening to moving dancers, the dancers also made a painting using their movement to make marks, and Rye performed as a part of a duet.  In this way, “Motion” bridged the divide between dance and painting as the audience could see that to the collaborators, there isn’t such a gap after all.

The Process

Rye and Znosko decided to develop project Motion and invited the Clark Dance Theatre of New Haven Connecticut, to Rye’s studio to interpret her work through movement.  What evolved was so much more!  Once the dancers were in her studio, the artists decided to work in a much more collaborative way.  The dancers do make movement in reaction to the work on the wall, but they also make movement to inspire paintings while they are there.  There is a deep connection between the dancers and painter, as they choreograph both painting and dance together!

As a choreographer, Znosko finds movements that are organic in nature. She encourages dancers to connect with Rye’s work and reminds them that their movements don’t have to be pretty, as in fact Rye prefers awkward movements.  Music is chosen based on the mood of the landscape that she is trying to portray.  For a light flowing landscape Znosko may choose to dance to Mozart. Znosko also discusses with Rye movement qualities.  Both artists are interested in bold fragile movements, a juxtaposition that can be seen all the time in nature.  In order to further demonstrate this idea in dance, Znosko searches for music that has complexities woven into which she often finds contemporary cello music.  The cello in itself is an earthy instrument that helps transport dancers into a landscape.

Moving forward, the artists seek to bring these two art forms even closer together. To achieve this goal in October of 2013, Rye built a special easel that holds a piece of glass that can be moved in the center of the dancers.  This step allows the dancers to see how their movement inspires the painting while they are moving.  They can move around the work in progress and make movement spontaneously to what is being formed before their eyes and bodies.  Rye can also work on both sides of the glass, which is a totally new way of working for her! She can change her perspective in relation to the dancers, and look and work on the image in reverse, something she would normally have to pull a print to do.  Rye can now see the dancers at all times through the glass and almost “trace” their movements in paint to make her marks.

In May of 2014, Rye and Znosko collaborated with dancers from Williston Northampton School in their show "Adrenaline Rush".  Rye performed an improv landscape painting on a 3' x 6' piece of plexi while the students made movements based on her paintings.  In this way of working, the painting became part of the dance, as the audience saw the image being made in real time behind the dancers.