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Type/Set (2003)

Type/Set is an investigation of the formal similarities between dance and typography. Though they seem unrelated at first glance, the two disciplines are kindred spirits, both filling an empty space (the stage or the page) with certain elements and constraints. The movement and structure of this quintet is built on fundamentals common to both dance and typography, such as rhythm, proportion, and counterpoint, along with less obviously translatable typographic concerns such as margins, fonts, punctuation, and serifs.

Robert Bringhurst's gorgeous book on the subject, The Elements of Typographic Style was a major inspiration for Type/Set. In the book, he writes "In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive. They dance in their seats. Sometimes they rise and dance in the margins and aisles."

"Type/Set... suffused the performance space with irrepressible energy ... The crisp decisiveness of the trajectory commands attention on its own. The title alludes to Christopher Keyes's score, which makes music from the sound of a typewriter and provides an unremitting pulse. The joy here is the absence of logical transition; the choreography makes much of its discontinuity and is paced so cannily that when the dancers line up in a unison, you breathe a sign of relief. Stuart blithely mingles vocabularies. Pedestrian moves jostle with bits of parody; surely the crowned arms refer to a ballet class long ago. The whole is more than the sum of the parts in Type/Set, but those parts are impressive in themselves."
- Allan Ulrich, Voice of Dance

Choreographed by:
Erin Mei-Ling Stuart in collaboration with the cast
Original music by:
Christopher Keyes
Original Cast:
Katie Aggen, Ann Berman, Maggie Kelley Connard, Sean McMahon, Julie Sheetz
Costumes:
Faye Stevenson and Erin-Mei-Ling Stuart
photo by Andy Mogg