TO OUR BODIES
archaeologists say that dance may be the oldest art form.
It seems likely that the first way we might be creative is
with our own bodies.
as a society, we are now strangers to our bodies. We don't
use them very much. Children used to hear often "now run outside
and play." They don't hear that much anymore. Nowadays it's
more like sit in front of some screen. So of course our connection
to our bodies is fading rapidly and as it does, we are just
not as interested in seeing others use what we do not. Maybe
it makes us feel guilty somehow.
say "us" but actually, I dance. To go to a dance class is
just as liberating and just as much a spiritual experience
as going to the Metroplotian Museum, or my favorite church.
When time goes by and I don't dance, I find myself somehow
depressed without really knowing why. Then I start stretching
and know exactly why. It's time to get back to our bodies!
for posing the challenge in "Is Dance a Lesser Art Form?"
If it's true that audiences have become estranged from classical
music when it went atonal, I'd argue that dance lost audiences
when it abandoned plotlines for people running around the
stage to "Gymnopedies 4."
along the way, it seems like dance became Art, without having
the great popular works to maintain its accessibility at the
mass level. You can trace opera from "La Traviata" to "Brigadoon"
to "Rent," and "Mona Lisa" to "Water Lilies" to those paintings
of thatched-roof cottages by that guy who has galleries in
shopping malls. But can most people name a single modern work
personally love what people like Paul Taylor and Garth Fagan
have done, playing with the vocabulary of classical ballet.
But I still think there's probably a huge opportunity for
some creative choreographer out there to do a full-length
dance with mass appeal. There's got to be something between
"Gymnopedies 4" and that god-awful sequence at the end of
that movie Center Stage.
-- you have directors of music videos moving to feature films;
what if a good music-video choreographer got to experiment
with ballet dancers? I think the best way for public schools
to introduce students to the arts -- whether it's dance, symphony
orchestra, opera, what have you -- is to have lots of field
trips, or have visiting performers.
high school, the local opera came in and performed a mini-La
Boheme in the school gym. As for dance writing -- well, it
could be that dance is just tricky to write about and it hasn't
found its muse yet. Most reviews are so abstract -- "the eloquent
footwork poignantly illustrated the oppression of parting,"
or they talk about fouettes and arabesques. I think Joan Acocella
at the New Yorker does a pretty good job.
TO MAKE DANCE LESS EXPENSIVE
Jane O'Reilly, Director of Dance at Auckland University
think one key is to work together more since there is strength
in cooperation. We have just made 3D and had 3 dance companies
sharing a programme. We covered costs and had a great time.
The audience saw many styles and aesthetics and appreciated
key is technology. Framing dance so it can be seen in video
and the internet. Drama and music have used technology to
huge benefit in the last 100 yrs - music everywhere, movies
etc - dance is behind in this area. For the survival of the
art form we need to make more dance on screen.
the end we are talking about the art of dance - not social
or therapeutic dance - they are very healthy. I agree with
the need for dance writing. In New Zealand we are desperately
short of this skill. Is this the fate of an art form inhabited
by mainly female, mainly young, mainly inarticulate people????
TO SAVE DANCE?
have read your article with great interest. The situation you
describe and the article by John Munger could well have
been written in Australia of the situation here.
You may be interested in the following brief notes which are
a preamble to a proposal to investigate the problem. We (a team
of dance researchers and cognitive psychologists) share your
view of the significance of dance experience at an early age.
The full proposal, all seventy pages of it has just gone to
the Australian Research Council but the results of the application
will not be known until the end of 2001. The ARC is a body which
normally funds research in the natural and other sciences but
which funded us to undertake a two year investigation into the
nature of choreographic thought in 1999-2000.
Background and focus of proposed research for 2002-2004
proposal builds on the research project "Unspoken Knowledges"
funded under the SPIRT scheme and undertaken 1999-2001. This
seminal project has studied the processes involved in the creation
of original dance works by elite choreographers. Detailed digital
documentation and analysis of these works provides the basis
for this second application.
the core of the proposed research are three fundamental
What elements encourage audiences to respond to dance works
with insight, pleasure and understanding?
do previous knowledge, experience and education affect audience
can skills of perception, synthesis and imagination be enhanced?
The research now proposed addresses problems that have been
identified by the dance industry as critical to its viability
among the contemporary performing arts in Australia. "Conceiving
Connections" is applied research, in that it is original
work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge with a specific
application in view. It is also strategic basic research, in
that it is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire
new knowledge which will to provide the broad base necessary
for solving recognized practical problems.
WHAT DEARTH OF DANCE?
Morris, theater and dance critic,
world may not be beating a path to our door, there are extended
periods without any performances here, and we get hardly any
touring performances, but . . . the modest-sized midwestern
town of Dayton, Ohio, has a growing, financially stable ballet
company (Dayton Ballet), the state's largest modern dance
company (which is also one of the country's oldest African-American
dance companies), Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and a
vibrant, inventive music and dance troupe known as Rhythm
and Shoes, which does everything from clogging to tap and
swing. Who knows why? There's no hint of dance going away
here. It isn't taught in the schools any more here than anywhere
else. But it's alive and well beyond any expectation for a
place like this.
it's time for me to look at this seriously. How come we're
different. Is it because nobody knows we exist?
P.S. It's sad when dance companies dry up and blow away. Unless
they're just being propped up long after their glory days
when nobody seems to care. I'm far from the first to say that
Martha Graham's company was an extension of her. She's gone.
The impulse that began with her is still leaping to others.
And that is incredible. Just trace it.
to say something almost as old as self-expression, is ephemeral.
It disappears. It's live. At least, it should be. The current
state of affairs is just part of a cycle like the stock market's.
What goes up - and the dance world did go way up during the
1970s - must come down, unless hitched to wires like those
used in Dragon/Tiger. Even those have to be disengaged sooner
PUBLIC AWARNESS ON THE DIFFICULTIES OF DANCE
a dancer I am more than fully aware of the difficulties facing
people who wish to pursue this form of art. A long time ago
I was faced with a difficult decision: to dance or not to
dance... I have seen too many amazing dancers ignore their
talents in pursuit of a career that could at least feed their
families. It is a sad but true story.
with this realization, I chose to dance. I couldn't bear the
thought of all of the tears, sweat, skin, and blood I'd shed
in the countless hours of practice in the studio going to
waste. I am scared, but I am still going to try and beat the
odds. It shouldn't be this way though. Dance is the most natural
form of art. It speaks through the body- something we all
has to be a way to make a change. Could we possibly start
a campaign to get the general public more involved in seeing
dance and understanding it? Just a suggestion.