SMT-V 9.1, "'We are dancing, We are flying': The Feeling of Flight in Dance Scenes from Recent Popular Film" by Chelsea Oden, is now available at SMT-V.org.
Flight is a popular visual metaphor in partner dance scenes, but what about these scenes evokes the feeling of flight? This video examines four partner dance scenes from recent popular film to explore how musical meter and timbre can cause even the most visually grounded dance to feel airborne. Drawing on theories of embodiment, I show how these scenes use triple and compound meters to create a sense of weightlessness through lilt and a sense of timelessness through lyric time. From a timbral perspective, I propose three sound envelopes—sparkling, lyrical, and buoyant—that reference embodied experiences to evoke starry skies, gliding flight paths, and a playful push and pull against gravity. Together, I argue, timbre and meter in partner dance scenes can sweep us off our feet, making tangible the famous words of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Prince and Cinderella: “We are dancing, We are flying.