NEW YORK — The Martha Graham Dance Company wants to know: What are you thinking — or feeling?
That's the question participants worldwide must answer in an online competition called "On the Couch: An Inner Monologue."
The company has posted two videos on its website, one of a man and another of a woman performing the roles of patients at a therapy session.
Contestants must create a video psychodrama to show what they're feeling while watching the characters dance through a series of struggles, joys and other thoughts and feelings. The submitted video can be as simple as words on a screen.
The three-minute clips must be downloaded, with a voiceover or text added that imagines the dancer's thoughts, beginning with the sentence, "Doctor, it's happening again."
The new content "can be something really personal, or a really broad subject like world war," says Martha Graham principal dancer Tadej Brdnik, who oversees the contest and appears in one video.
At some point, the late Graham's famous quote must be used: "Movement never lies."
Call it free therapy — or an effort by the New York ensemble to draw new audiences in tough economic times.
The company "is leading the world of modern dance in experimenting with innovative ways to connect with new audiences," says artistic director Janet Eilber, who created "On the Couch."
It's a lighthearted part of this season's company theme — "Inner Landscape," focusing on the American choreographer's daring probing of the human psyche, transformed into the twists, turns and caresses of her creations.
"I wanted to find a way to reveal the inner landscape — to chart a graph of the heart," Graham once said.
The winning entry, with a $500 prize, will be showcased during the company's New York performances in March.
Second and third place winners get $300 and $200, with their work also shown.
The submission deadline is Feb. 15.
Videos will be selected by a panel of experts in psychology, dance, music, creative writing and media.
The contest "is our rehearsal process in reverse; we start with the dance, and invent the interior life of the characters," says Brdnik. "It's also an engaging way to showcase Graham's rich influence even on today's global culture."
Graham died in 1991, more than six decades after founding the company that forever shook up the world of dance.
On the Couch: http://onthecouchcompetition.tumblr.com