- Oct 2017
The decision of Welker, Lee, Clark, Van Buskirk, and Gill to name their dance company Terminus was intentional and purposive. The name Terminus comprises multiple elements of symbolism through which meaning can be derived. Terminus was one of Atlanta’s original names, and it describes the former setting of the Southern city. Terminus means “end of the line,” which indicates the spirited growth of Atlanta around the railroad’s stopping point between Georgia and the Midwest. Not only is the name Terminus historically significant to the company’s homebase city, but it is also metaphorically significant.
To the dancers of Terminus, the “end of the line” simultaneously serves as the origin point of a new journey. Their inception as a dance company flourished from their conclusion with Atlanta Ballet, a significant chapter in all of these dancers’ careers. Tara Lee describes a terminus as an “intersection and meeting point of ideas” in which “people [come] together to create something new” (Freeman). She believes that this definition describes the Terminus Modern Ballet Theater dancers well. The name Terminus is multimodal because it evokes specific imagery related to the railroad as well as a symbolic interpretation critical to understanding the motivations and origin story of this ballet company. As the text demonstrates, understanding the full message of even a single word requires a multimodal analysis.
Questions one might ask:
Are there images associated with the word?
What is the word’s historical context?
How is the word presented?
Does it belong at the fore of the conversation?
Does it compete with and/or complement another mode?