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Where Should Dance Go ?


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#1 Buddy

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 02:39 PM

Do you have any thoughts or favorites ?

 
With physical challenges being more and more common in dance, as a Naturalist and Etherealist Lover at heart I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this sort of thing.
 
 
Yet I can’t seem to ever get away from these guys. The Space Age Gene Kellys ?
 
At least see the first one through to the end.
 
(most of these videos are available at the artists’ or venues’ own sites)


#2 diane

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 07:58 AM

Yeah... there are many types of dance; and that is good! 

 

The more the merrier! 

 

-d-



#3 sandik

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 08:46 AM

Of the two styles here, I'm more excited by the breakers, although I appreciate the  hypnotic quality of the Chinese group.  But I think that hip hop is fast becoming the default popular dance form -- it's what we see on television and in films most frequently.  It is, in its way, the contemporary equivalent of tap dancing -- a kind of dance that people don't have to explain doing.



#4 Buddy

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 09:57 AM

Thanks, diane and sandik, for your comments. I didn’t want to limit discussion to these two types of dance. If anyone has any thoughts about future or desirable changes and directions in dance or any favorite groups or styles, please post them.  
 
Sandik, the Jabbawockeez are considered to be one of the more artistic, even poetic, of the “dance crew” groups today. They are also extremely good. Their creativity, synchronization, dance prowess and variety, style, charisma, etc., make them a very popular group. I consider them to be special, but my experience with this area of dance is pretty limited.
 
I think that you are probably right that this type of ‘street dance’ (I’m not sure what the name for their style would be) is sort of today’s tap dance. My reason for signaling them out is that they represent change, point to the future, are excellent and I really like them.
 
If anyone hasn’t taken a look at the second video, the dancer from China, Yang LiPing, I would definitely recommend it. She’s one of a kind. Her roots are from the folk dance of China, but her dreamlike interpretation is completely her own. She’s one of the most famous dancers in China. She represents a lyrical style, that for me, has much of the enchantment of ballet, yet is quite different. In this video she also represents an added possibility for the future of lyrically beautiful dance that transcends cultural distinctions. It’s the Naturalness and relaxed physicality that make it special as well as the  lyrical loveliness, poetic expression and enchantment. 


#5 sandik

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 01:05 PM

The Jabbawockeez remind me a bit of Lil' Buck, just in terms of their control (which would probably translate to an adagio sense in ballet) and the emphasis on shape -- they're obviously aware of their flow and their line in these examples. 

 

(Edited to add)  I just saw this video (Dance A-Z) on a friend's Facebook wall, and thought it might be a good addition to the conversation here.



#6 Buddy

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 02:50 AM

The Jabbawockeez remind me a bit of Lil' Buck, just in terms of their control (which would probably translate to an adagio sense in ballet) and the emphasis on shape -- they're obviously aware of their flow and their line in these examples. 

 

(Edited to add)  I just saw this video (Dance A-Z) on a friend's Facebook wall, and thought it might be a good addition to the conversation here.

Thanks, sandik, for your ongoing thoughts and the added video reference. You have proposed some very interesting ideas. Yes, I would say that there are similarities between Lil’ Buck, who recently appeared with the New York City Ballet, and the JabbaWockeeZ. You’ve used several expressions that are like buzzwords here. One is “popular dance form.” I think that the focus of Ballet Alert! is on dance as an art form, even a ‘high art form.’ How this interrelates with “popular dance form,” now and into the future, is certainly worth considering here. Your quote above refers directly to this.

 

Two other expressions that you used, “hypnotic quality” and “excited,” go to the core of my examples. I tend to view them as almost polar opposites in my appreciation of dance, but it certainly doesn’t have to be seen that way. I introduced the JabbaWockeeZ for that reason. My love is for the enchantment or “hypnotic quality” and yet the JabbaWockeeZ’s ‘excitement’ and interest, for me, can’t be denied. I alluded to their artistry, but you zeroed in (relating it to ballet) and I think that this is very relevant — the convergence of ‘fine art’ and popular culture.    

 

If you have a chance, or the interest, could you tell me what you think of the Yang LiPing performance, the second video, and how you might relate this to ballet.



#7 Buddy

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 01:43 PM

So I guess I’ll respond to the last sentence of my post immediately above. The video clip of Yang LiPing (second one above) is probably the most beautiful and enchanting non-ballet  dance performance that I’ve seen. If anyone would like to mention or post a non-ballet performance that has had a similar effect, I’d really like to hear about it. I think that this is an area of dance that is wide open to future development and I’d love to see it happen. 


#8 Buddy

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 02:29 AM

One of the reasons that I like the Yang LiPing performance so much is that it’s rich in artistry, yet doesn’t require great physical exertion or extreme use of the body. So many fine dancers retire when their artistry is at its height and getting better because the physical demands becomes too great. Dance styles like this one could give artists’ careers at least another ten years. I’ll let you in on a little secret, known only to me and about a billion folks in China. Yang LiPing was probably over fifty when this video was filmed! Yet, if you saw her on stage you would think that she was in her twenties. (She has recently announced her retirement in her mid-fifties.)

 

Another thing that is very interesting is that Yang LiPing probably does most or all of her own choreography and in fact has choreographed entire shows.  What she does is extremely personal and it's worth noting the value of an artist creating for the person that she or he understands the best, her or himself.

 

This is a video that I like very much. It’s Wendy Whelan with Craig Hall, choreographed by Chris Wheeldon. There’s a lot of ballet in it and it’s very physically challenging. It’s also immensely dreamlike and beautiful. With Wendy Whelan retiring from ballet this year, but continuing to dance, I hope that she carries this immense loveliness with her and that it encourages many other artists to do the same.

 

(video posted by the venue’s site)



#9 sandik

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 02:02 PM

Sorry it took me a while to get back to this -- life intervenes.

 

Yang is pretty small in the excerpt you have above, so I clicked around for a couple of other examples.  You can see her upper body work more clearly here in Peacock – like much of the classical Chinese dance I’ve seen, the articulation of the upper body is much more developed than the locomotion.  (it actually reminded me of the Tut Fingers in the A-Z video!)  On first view, it does have a great deal in common with some 19th century ballet work (the swan stuff, naturally) but where there’s more dialogue between the upper and lower body in ballet, this is more segmented.  The theme, and the movement style, really reminded me of Ruth St. Denis – at times, this looked like it could be an extension of her work with Denishawn.

 

The use of light and shadown in a second clip (Moonlight) reminded me of the early modern choreographer Loie Fuller, as well as the Swiss mime group Mumenschantz.  (and the Indonesian wayang kulit shadow puppets).  Again, the real complexity is in the upper body – it’s where she’s most articulate, where she responds to music most deftly, and where most of the new movement phrases begin and continue.  She uses her lower body much more sparingly, often as an accent.  It’s not really about complex locomotion – she could (and I imagine has) dance very compellingly without moving from her original spot.

 

Although Yang’s work does share a kind of spare aesthetic with the Wheeldon, I don’t really find that much in common, especially in their attitude towards the stage space.  But they both do use stillness to focus our attention in really subtle ways.



#10 diane

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 08:35 AM

I do think that it is important to allow for many types of dance to co-exist and if possible to help them in their existence. (that could well mean allotting tax money)

 

Personally I prefer watching things which take time to learn and perfect. There is something about absolute control which I find fascinating - and something about lack of control which I find boring after a very short time. (one reason I prefer some painters/composers/writers over others) 

 

Now, this is a bit of an off-shoot, but it does have its basis in what we are discussing here:

What does bother me about many of the contemporary dance styles and techniques is the apparent lack of really good training for the dancers in a well-thought-out technique supporting the style they are to perform, so that they do not end up injuring themselves more than the normal "fatigue" or "careless" injuries.

There are not a few contemporary choreographers (those alive now) who work largely in "finding new language" and "new ways of movement".

That is wonderful, and can be indeed very exciting to watch - and fun to do.

 

I hear a lot about what goes on behind the scenes. (having been a dancer myself and now mother to two in the profession,)

It appears that too many choreographers working towards "new movement" are not taking into account the toll it is taking on the bodies of the dancers; who are, regrettably, "a dime a dozen" and so highly replaceable. 

 :) 

 

 

 

-d-



#11 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 12:08 PM

 

So I guess I’ll respond to the last sentence of my post immediately above. The video clip of Yang LiPing (second one above) is probably the most beautiful and enchanting non-ballet  dance performance that I’ve seen. If anyone would like to mention or post a non-ballet performance that has had a similar effect, I’d really like to hear about it. I think that this is an area of dance that is wide open to future development and I’d love to see it happen. 

 

 

I think I could fill this thread with seventeen pages of clips of enchanting not-ballet. But since you've gotten us started with something Chinese, I'll keep going in that direction ...

 

A few years ago I had the good fortune to see Taiwan's Han Tang Yuefu Music and Dance Ensemble at the Joyce and it was perhaps one of the most sheerly lovely things I'd ever seen in a theater. To my western-trained eyes, it looked like a style entirely grounded in subtle micro-adjustments of the head, hands, and posture. (The work that I saw was a reconstruction based on Tang dynasty materials, some still part of a living tradition, some retrieved through scholarship.) The lower body -- which is entirely covered in floor-length robes during performance -- seemed a kind of moving pedestal on which to display the upper body.

 

Go here for a video with the dancers in costume: http://www.carnegieh...ents/13980.aspx

 

But ... don't miss this series of videos of the dancers demonstrating their moves in street clothes for a very interesting contrast -- you can see how much work the entire body is really doing to create the effect of not doing much at all:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=IVQqgRyg1fc

https://www.youtube....h?v=IVQqgRyg1fc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL0YW2IF_f0  



#12 Buddy

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 01:19 PM

Sorry it took me a while to get back to this -- life intervenes.

 

 

It’s interesting, sandik, that I see dancers, such as ballet dancers, turning themselves into works of art for a performance. On the other hand I see someone like a true Geisha from Japan as turning her Entire Life into a work of art. “Life intervenes” differently. “ Where Should Dance Go ? “

 

Diane and Kathleen, I had most of this written before your posts, but will certainly look at them and try to respond as soon as I can. Thank you both very much for what looks to be very interesting comments and points of view.

 

Sandik, thank you very much for your response and interest. I agree with much of your analysis and do appreciate it. I especially agree with you about the importance of the upper body, especially the hands, in Far Eastern dance. Interestingly the upper body is also what I pay the most attention to in ballet along with flow and total body shape or line. I would have agreed with you about the minimizing of the lower  body until I saw Kathleen’s post stating that a great deal is actually going on there. I’ll certainly read all this more carefully and look at the videos as soon as possible.

 

I chose the Yang LiPing video that I posted above because I thought that it had a more ‘universal’ quality to it and folks such as ourselves could relate to it more easily. From an interview that I read she seems quite aware of ‘Western’ modern dance and probably has many similarities, but she also has a sometimes different conceptual outlook. She views her art as being an essentially joyful one in message. Also the roots of her art, as in much Far Eastern dance, seems to focus on the simple life, natural beauty and the beauty of nature.

 

Your mention of Ruth St. Denis is also related to what I think about a lot. From the little that I know about her, she took very natural dance style and attempted to give it the graceful aura that we associate for instance with ballet. As I’ve said before, I’d love to see much more of this sort of thing.



#13 sandik

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 03:18 PM

 

you can see how much work the entire body is really doing to create the effect of not doing much at all:

 

I had to laugh -- a good friend of mine was a high-level competitor in synchronized swimming for years, and this sounds exactly like her description of the discipline. 



#14 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 04:32 PM

 

 

you can see how much work the entire body is really doing to create the effect of not doing much at all:

 

I had to laugh -- a good friend of mine was a high-level competitor in synchronized swimming for years, and this sounds exactly like her description of the discipline. 

 

 

I think this is true of Baroque dance too, no? I gather all that quarter point work is rather taxing ... which reminds me: I meant to mention in my post that the Han Tang Yuefu performance reminded me of Baroque dance in its elegance and civility. 



#15 sandik

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 07:39 PM

Absolutely true of baroque work -- I had very, very strong feet back when I was doing that work and it took every inch I had.




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