I was looking at videos of different dances and I found that a small dance company actually turned The Scarlet Letter into a contemporary dance piece. The entire performance is on YouTube, but I’m just posting an excerpt from the forest scene with Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl.
In dance, body language, facial expressions, the relationship between the dancers, music, and even the backdrop and costumes affect the viewer’s interpretation. Since there are no words, these elements are vital in order to create an understandable and beautiful piece of work. In this clip, I feel these elements were very well executed. The quality of movement truly portrays the conflicting emotions of Hester and Dimmesdale as their “conversation” progresses. Both dancers constantly rely on each other for support in their movement, since this is a pas de deux, portraying the strong relationship between Hester and Dimmesdale. There is an extreme amount of reliance on each other. Also, the dancer that plays Hester often breaks off from Dimmesdale, who lays weak and pained on the floor. This demonstrates her freedom from the shame and burden of the scarlet A that she took off of her chest. Overall, the steps really tell the story, since they are mostly thoughtful and slow, until Pearl comes in who moves quickly and chaotically, reflecting her personality. I also feel that the choice to veer towards a contemporary/modern style of dance contrasts well with the music and the time period of the story. The choice of projecting the image of the forest behind the dancers, as opposed to painted canvas or nothing at all, also gives off a contemporary feel, while the music serves as the balance, since it is classical.