What is Too Close

Update: reworked choregraphy by Jane Turner, performed as Close: a Tango. Dancers: David Ogle, Ann Pidock.

Below: Choreography, Jane Turner. Performed by Turning Worlds Company, 2011

What is too close?
Is it a feeling? Does it arise from spatial awareness? Or another sense? Is it simply a spatial relationship and if so, what challenges does this embody in terms of movement?

What is ‘too close’?
It could be the binary opposite of ‘too far’, but I prefer to make the subtler comparison between ‘close’ and ‘too close’. What, then, is ‘close’? Does it embody proximity, intimacy?

What is too close?
Who decides? Who acts, who sees, who feels what is too close?

What is too close?
And how does this shape the responses, the reactions? Is there tension? Gravitation? Repulsion? Interaction?
How does ‘too close’ look?
How does ‘too close’ sound?
Does a phrase follow another a little sooner than expected, does a pitch clash with another, does a chord intrude belligerently? What emerges?

What is too close?

“An intense examination of closeness led me to think of a ‘tango’ like duet. A classic male/female pairing and exploration of intimacy. I was fortunate that the two dancers used for this know each other well, and were able to work with me in creating a sensitive and highly tuned duet. I found the resonance in the slightly jangly piano sound used in this piece very evocative… and I think we got a great result!”

– Jane Turner, Choreographer.


The question provokes exploration, in any field or medium where proximity can be modelled, or where the feelings that arise due to proximity (of some sort) can be expressed. The proximity could be spatial, bodily, emotional…

In musical terms, I have investigated proximity of pitches: narrow intervals; ‘clashing’ chords in low registers giving rise to strong harmonics; dissonance; and also, at points, the proximity between a lingering gesture and the arrival of the next one. These gestures probe the descriptor ‘close’ without closing the question, leaving the listener with the question ‘what is too close?’ The timbral landscape serves to allow these qualities of the gestures to emerge and to create a sense of space within which the procession of gestures can function.

With this specific sequence of musical gestures, I have attempted to plot and shape a structured space in which sound and movement, in parallel, can explore the question and together, re-convey the question to the audience. The music does not ask, expecting the dance to answer. The musical gestures become a series of hooks for meaning, each gesture open to receive a physical gesture, the two combining to allow meaning to emerge. It is these emergent ‘meanings’ which re-convey the question to the audience. Meaning remains plastic-the combined gestures may offer a new perception of closeness or the loose expression of a feeling- say, intimacy, or belligerence- which the audience receives, but this can not be fixed. The space remains open, the negotiation continues.