Lady Elle

Articles: Dance Trends

19 posts in this topic

Having read the article, I'd say this is a fairly naive uninformed response to European post-modern dance. I'm surprised that the writer had never encountered it before in Australia - I haven't lived there for over 15 years now, but I saw work like that (rather badly described as "rolling around on the floor") in my undergraduate years in the late 1970s and 1980s. It's where modern dance meets performance art.

 

It is not to some people's tastes, and may not be conventionally entertaining, but in my view, it's a rather unhelpful (if not ignorant) response to just say "Is this dance?" Artists and critics (and the humble performance historian :) ) have been debating about "what is art?" since Plato - who incidentally would have banned poets from his Republic.

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Thank you for the link! It petty much sums up what I am thinking since a long time but acutally never dared to say.

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Having seen and participated in a lot of contemporary dance lately, I also sort of agree with the article. There are some really excellent pieces being produced and performed - but there are also others. Maybe I just don't understand them - or it's a matter of personal preference. But for me these 'rolling around on the floor' type pieces are great to do in an improvisation class/setting, but don't necessarily need to be performed in front of an audience.

However, there does seem to be a market for them here. Although it's usually a small crowd, some people seem to enjoy watching them and get something out of them.

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I agree that it doesn't help to suggest that this type of performance art is not dance, but he makes some good points. I don't get the impression that he hasn't seen this type of thing before. Quite the contrary, he's perhaps seen enough of it. I remember when work like this was fresh. I never found it easy to watch, which certainly didn't invalidate it. I now find it hackneyed and not easy to watch.

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I really dislike that in a lot of contemporary or modern dance, I can't put to use much of the skill I worked to develop through training. Especially at my college, I feel that modern dance is brought down to a very beginning level of technique and is almost exclusively looked at through half-improvised pedestrian movement. Which yes, is still dance. It's not something I personally enjoy seeing or performing, however.

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I've had the occasion to see a lot of this type of performance---mostly from emerging choreographers or ones that consider themselves to be 'edgy'. One piece I had to sit through 'choreographed' by some hot-shot with a pedigree was nothing more than the dancers walking slowly around the stage wadding up and dropping paper on the stage. One dancer was set off to the side and her part was to simply watch the movement of the others. Huh? It was such a waste of talent-----and my time. The dancers hated the piece. They all felt it was just a workshop exercise at best.

 

My DD and I have discussed it at length. She thinks I am too harsh, but to me, it is little more than self-indulgence. I think the choreographer should have something to say, and if I as a paying audience member am suppose to take my time and money to listen, then I think the choreographer owes it to me to not waste my time by presenting some incomprehensible message.

 

I don't believe I should insist or expect to like everything I see, but I do expect to be moved in some way---good or bad or disturbed. Something other than frustration and/or irritation at watching pure self-indulgent silliness ala "The Emperor's New Clothes".

 

I doubt it is easy creating interesting and expressive pieces all the time, and that there is a process of working through what doesn't work in order to get to what does. But . . . . . Please do that before it is presented as an audience-worthy piece.

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I don't care how "cool and trendy" it is, I hate watching people dance in socks on stage.

 

I makes their legs look short and frumpy.

 

There, I said it.

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Thank you, dancemaven, for expressing what many of us are thinking! (Or, at least what I have been ruminating on!)

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I don't care how "cool and trendy" it is, I hate watching people dance in socks on stage.

 

I makes their legs look short and frumpy.

 

There, I said it.

 

And it is even worse when they are "nude" socks.

 

I recently watched a student choreography competition. It was amazing to me how dark the entire show was, just because so many of the pieces were trying to convey some grand thing about the nature of life or a mental state or even the futility of politics (which reminds me, I want to watch The Green Table). Not that these things do not have their place; dance can and should explore such things, I think, but after the eleventh such piece, you really couldn't remember much about anything--the individual dances sort of blended together after awhile. Another person I was discussing the show with made the same comment dancemaven did--self-indulgent. I have danced in pieces that were more thoughtful (to Yesterday by the Beatles and Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel most notably), and were recieved very well, and I enjoyed doing, and I think that part of the reason is that rather than convey the choreographer's state of mind or some grand comment about the nature of humanity, they both spoke to something that everyone understands. Everyone understands wishing they could go back to yesterday and change something or just live in a happier time. And everyone understands wanting to speak and not being heard. I think that is the missing piece; people need something to relate to. That's why we watch dance and sports; we see ourselves in the character/team (or just a player? I don't know; sports aren't my thing, really). And if you can't see yourself in what is happening onstage, you can't relate to it and you get bored.

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Personally, I think the world could use more beauty and joy and laughter and levity in dance. There is enough darkness and anger and futility in our everyday world. We could all use some expression of love and beauty through movement - even if its seemingly not so very cerebral.

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I remember watching a piece in 1980 that consisted of two very earnest people running around the stage, moving rocks from pile to pile. I was not moved. Self-indulgent is a good description for this type of work, dancemaven.

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I could totally relate to this. I've not exactly seen this sort of dancing, but you've not really seen angry, unhappy teen girls unless you've sat through a few hundred contemporary entries at a dance competition. And, of course, not every dance has to be happy. But surely if you're going to be THAT sad or THAT angry, at LEAST make it a little bit clear why you are so moody. By about the 30th angst-ridden entry I just want to know why they are so upset. No, actually, by then I just want to run away. RUN AWAY!! :party:

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but you've not really seen angry, unhappy teen girls unless you've sat through a few hundred contemporary entries at a dance competition. And, of course, not every dance has to be happy.

 

Yes, I can relate to that. I see a lot of student work (undergraduates rather than younger children) and I think it's a function of being 18 or 19. They have yet to understand that performing is not primarily about "expressing yourself" and "feeling your emotions" but about making your audience feel their emotions. Young people are self-absorbed in this way, and are encouraged to think (partly by people like me :devil: ) that Art must be serious.

 

Comedy is much harder to do, actually!

 

It's a stage they go through. I am in the middle of seeing student-made work every night of this week. I get home exhausted by smiling and nodding, and watching (metaphorically) through closed eyes. At times their expression of their deep and meaningful angst is excruciatingly embarrassing, and I have a low embarrassment threshold at the best of times - rather a liability in my job.

 

Post-modern dance, done well, is different. I think that what I find irritating about the article linked in the opening post in this thread is that it's a blanket diminishment of all contemporary po-mo dance. It'd be like watching every level of new classical choreography (not just that done at the RB or the ENB) and judging ALL classical ballet choreography by it. And frankly, there's some clumsy and crass bits of classical ballets I just look past - the only reason we put up with some bits of some established choreography is because it has the patina of "tradition." But look at how choreographers have gradually cut out most of the mime to be found in 19th century ballets, in each successive re-staging. And - my field is 19th century performance history - there's a LOT of classical ad romantic ballet choreography we've lost, as it was designed to fit mixed bills of entertainment. It was entirely occasional, of the moment, to fill gaps in programmes, or to show off the latest sensation. 19th C critics were often less than complimentary about that sort of choreography then.

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DD recently showed me a 6 year old doing an angsty dance to a song that is reflecting on a life lived and how fast it goes. I don't think the person who choreographed it meant it ironically, but I suppose if they did then hats off to them!

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