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December 13, 2005

working tradition

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In some of the recent entries references were made to the impact of tradition on American artists and the value of "solid craftsmanlike work". This is a topic that has intrigued me in recent years. In my own practice I have begun to seriously question the value of tradition and "solid craftsmanship". And I certainly feel the audiences and arts presenters that are part of the community that I work within are asking the same questions.

Perhaps due to the Euopean contemporary dance boom of the 80's and 90's where Forsythe, Kylian, Naharin, Vandekeybus, et al saturated our audiences with an enormously diverse set of dance paradigms, our public has become fairly sophisticated. These choreographers have been quite prolific and educated our audiences to such a degree that emerging choreographers are immediately held to their predecessor's standards of innovation and vision within the art form.
This is an extraordinary experience for the dance makers of my generation and a challenge that I believe most of us are more then happy to embarce. I suspect that we experience this "euro-tradition" as an invitation to better ourselves as artists and to continue the development of dance within the parameters of our personal vision.
I have never sensed a demand or pressure to continue in the stylistic footsteps of those that came before me.

A colleague of mine spent the last year in America, seeing as many dance performances as he could. He reported that much of the work he saw from emerging choreographers sprang from fairly familiar styles or existing idioms. The idea of taking an individual path separate from the holy canon of Taylor, Brown and Cunningham was distant indeed. How are the dancers being educated? Do U.S. presenters encourage choreographers to follow these familiar paths? Is this a market question? Or is it that dance makers without a decent infrastructure around them have neither the time nor the resources to to find a way out from under the weight of tradition?

Posted by at December 13, 2005 11:33 AM

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