Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Violin Phase and the Experience of Time, or Why Does Process Music Work?

Kozak, Mariusz S.

Reich’s Violin Phase has been mired in questions of time since its inception. In this article I present a theory of time in process music based on the notion of kinesthetic knowledge, and the synthesis of musical temporality through the generative (chronopoietic) and transformational (chronopraxial) acts of the body. I illustrate this theory with an analysis of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreography to Violin Phase, arguing that the dance serves as a proto-theory of the piece by creating and transforming its temporal trajectory. I draw attention to the role of structural convergences and divergences between dance and music, as well as of the emerging “resulting patterns,” in establishing and maintaining an emotional connection between the dancer and her audience. By closely examining the relationship between the music and De Keersmaeker’s movements, how together they create the space of the dance, and how the energy accumulated through incessant repetition gives shape to the aesthetic event, I argue that the choreography draws attention to novel temporal aspects of Reich’s piece.


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February 3, 2023