Energy is about how the movement happens. Choices about energy include variations in movement flow and the use of force, tension, and weight. An arm gesture might be free flowing or easily stopped, and it may be powerful or gentle, tight or loose, heavy or light. A dancer may step into an arabesque position with a sharp, percussive attack or with light, flowing ease. Energy may change in an instant, and several types of energy may be concurrently in play.
Saying that a dance "has a lot of energy" is misleading. ALL dances use the element of energy, though in some instances it may be slow, supple, indirect energy - not the punchy, high speed energy of a fast tempo dance.
Energy choices may also reveal emotional states. For example, a powerful push might be aggressive or playfully boisterous depending on the intent and situation.
Some types of energy can be easily expressed in words, others spring from the movement itself and are difficult to label with language. Sometimes differences in the use of energy are easy to perceive; other times these differences can be quite subtle and ambiguous. Perhaps more so than the other elements, energy taps into the nonverbal yet deeply communicative realm of dance.
Watch this video, then:
Choreography & Direction: Ananya Chatterjea
Collaborators: Laurie Carlos (director/music/performer), Greg Schutte (composer), Mankwe Ndosi (performer/music), Pooja Goswami (music), Annie Katsura Rollins (costume and set design)
Performers: Ananya Dance Theater