Posted 02 March 2002 - 02:25 AM
Well, I'll have a shot at it (all those performance art theory classes in school have to come to something now tongue.gif ).
This week I have been attending the senior thesis concerts at the college that I graduated from, it's very interesting to go to them because you have the opportunity to see everything from the avant-garde performance art bent dance works, to the fairly classical contemporary ballet. It is hard to seperate contemporary from modern, and modern from avante garde...but possible. I'll give examples from this particular series of shows.
Disclaimer...This is all IMO
Classical-Contemporary Ballet--obviously uses solid ballet technique, and one doesn't need solid modern dance technique to accomplish it. The choreography tends to center more on the technique of the dancer opposed to the comopositon itself. In this concert there was a work where the dancers performed steps that could have been taken out of a ballet a hundred years ago--however, it was to somewhat new music and they 'modernized' some of the arms. A pirouette was a classic pirouette, an arabesque was always clear and centered. There was no pushing to the rhelms of modern dance with contracted and curved bodies and centers of balance pushed off kilter.
Contemporary Ballet--cannot be executed without solid ballet technique as well as solid modern dance technique. The choreography could be said to have 'the heart of ballet and the mind of modern dance'. In this concert there was a work where the dancer was en-pointe that blended these two techniques. For example, an en dedans pirouette in a contracted parallel position with the head completing the curve of the back.
Modern Dance--the extremes of ballet technique are not necessary to this, such as exagerated turn-out and the like. However, if one does not have a sound body technique of some sort that is relevant to the type of momevment being done...then the work is impossible to do. The choreography (if done well) tends to center around the composition itself as opposed to being centered around the technique of the dancer.
Performance Art (Dance)--unfortunatly, sound body technique is not always needed for this sort, although there are many performers who are very capable of pushing there bodies to further extremes. These works are all about the performance themselves, and secondly the composition--the composition usually serving to set up an 'in the moment' performance. This concert, for example had a work where the dancers placed objects around the stage that they then proceeded to cut up and paste to a large paper strung up in the back...after a bit they sat one girl down and cut her hair, and tying it into bundles served it with milk and cookies to memebers of the audience. By itself, the compositon described seems rather humerous...but in performance the dancers were able to move one to tears from the loss and the cutting and the sorrow.
Avante Garde--this is the tricky one. Ok, so. Avante Garde IMO is more about the compositon and less about the performance. It also tends to not find secure body techniqe necessary, instead it seems to be more concerned about making a point, being different or 'cool', or just simply shocking. In this concert, for example...there was a work where a clothes line was strung up on a diagnol across the back of the stage. Methodically the performer took clothing from the basket and hung it up on the clothes line, then she scattered more of the clothing around on the ground. After that she put on makeup on stage and 'did her hair' (this dancer was shaved, so that provided a laughing moment). There was no full body movement at all...just walking around performing tasks. There was also no real performance quality, although if I was in a theory class that would be debated for quite awhile.
Hmmm, that turned out to be rather long...but good to get my mind going again in that manner.