Colombe’s Folds and Balletic Topologies: the Agency of Issey Miyake’s ‘one piece of cloth’ in William Forsythe’s The Loss of Small Detail (1991)
This paper explores parallel structures found in the works of William Forsythe and Issey Miyake, focusing on the ‘one piece of cloth’ dress, the Colombe. The dress was initially used in Forsythe’s one-act version of the ballet, the second detail, created for the National Ballet of Canada (February, 1991). In this production the Colombe was used as a stage element ‘suspended in the air’ (Forsythe, interview, 2017). Later in the same year (December, 1991), the dress reappeared as a costume embodied by ballerina Kate Strong in the Ballett Frankfurt two-act production The Loss of Small Detail (1991).
This paper focuses on Issey Miyake’s Colombe dress as a structure known as ‘one piece of cloth.’ The concept always already includes movement, and as I argue, when used in Forsythe’s evening-long ballet as a costume, it illuminates choreographic reconfigurations, including the topological morphing of the balletic épaulement. Miyake’s dress, used as a dance costume, is thus seen as a parallel and autonomous interlocutor, and a ‘choreographic object’ which relates to Forsythe’s question ‘What else, besides the body, could physical thinking look like?’ (Forsythe, 2011, 91) Moreover, the Colombe in Forsythe’s ballet may help us to visualise balletic structures that cohere two parts of Forsythe’s choreographic work. If seen as a parallel agent, Miyake’s dress as a costume highlights epistemological principle of the fold (Deleuze, 1993), and casts Forsythe’s balletic work as an ontological multiple and a serialised event concerned with cohesion.
Tamara Tomić-Vajagić, PhD, is a dance scholar with a background in fine arts. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Dance Department at the University of Roehampton. Her research explores the intersections between modernist and contemporary visual culture and dance. Her earlier costume research includes a study of leotards and practice-clothes costumes for dance performance (Scene, 2014). Her upcoming publications include a study of Issey Miyake’s clothes in Forsythe’s The Loss of Small Detail (OUP, 2020 forthcoming), the exploration of spectator’s fomo [‘the fear of missing out’] in Forsythe’s postdramatic theatre work Kammer/Kammer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020 forthcoming), and an investigation of balletic semantic abstraction in George Balanchine’s works (ARTS, special issue on Dance and Abstraction, 2020 forthcoming).