Suzanne Bocanegra on “Little Dot”
September 25, 2014
“When I was a girl I was fascinated by a small painting at the Houston museum of Fine arts. It was called Young Woman Powdering Herself by Georges Seurat.
It was a painting of a woman dabbing herself with a powder puff, made up of thousands of delicate dots.
At the time I was devoted to Little Dot comics. Little Dot was a Harvey comic character- a little girl obsessed with dots. I mean obsessed. She wore them as a uniform, and she imposed them on her environment in a single-minded way. The story lines all had to do with interpreting her life experiences in terms of dots.
When I saw the Seurat painting at the Houston Museum, I was ready for it. I loved it instantly. I would look at that Seurat painting and imagine all the dots falling to the floor. And then, I imagined how much fun it would be to count them and sort them and organize them.
About 7 years ago I was back in Houston and I saw the painting again, and I decided to do just that, to count and organize the dots. I got a life-sized reproduction of the painting and counted and sorted the dots. I made a chart of my counting, sorting the dots by the parts of the body of the woman in the portrait. It took two months.
I was thinking about Seurat’s strange rules about how to paint and how the commitment to his idiosyncratic rules gave his works their unique beauty. At the same time that Seurat was refining his rules, and in the same place, the field of ballet was in the process of codifying its own strange rules, committing itself to the idea that their own idiosyncratic rules would generate beautiful movement.
It occurred to me that my chart of Seurat’s dots could be a score for a ballet performance. Every dot in Seurat’s painting is danced, transformed from a tiny stab of color into a tiny stab of sound, in a classic ballet movement called a ‘bouree.’
Little Dot is more an object than a dance. It is a sculpture that lasts only 12 hours and then is gone.” – Suzanne Bocanegra
Bocanegra’s Little Dot opens Danspace Project’s fall season this Saturday, September 27th from 11am-11pm.