This is off the top of my head. Perhaps someone else can add more.
>I have a question for the dance-historians among us:
>Is there a record of the ways in which dance changed (if any) with the advent
>of electrical lighting? Aside from time of performance, that is--did the
>ability to have, for example, a spotlight focusing attention, or the upstage
>area well-lit change the way choreographers made dances? I've had a bit of
>theory in the dramatic theatre on this subject, but dance wasn't addressed...
>The reason I ask is because I was thinking of the way the advent of the
>motion picture changed the skills of the actor. It's well known that the
>large emotive movements of the melodrama were eventually seen to be
>unsuitable for the screen--unless one was being purposely grotesque. This
>change, rather than limiting the actor, actually expanded the canvas
>available for expression--suddenly subtlety was a useful tool, in facial
>expressions, breath, etc. Some foresaw the "end" of the stage play--but that
>didn't quite happen. If the human mind has an absolute capacity for artistic
>forms (and sometimes I wish it did!) we seem to be far from it.
>I wonder if the same thing is happening in dance, though. I recall one of
>the first "Dances for the Camera" I saw, or rather I don't, since the name
>escapes me. However, the basic idea was the same movement phrase captured in
>(I believe) 9 different styles on the camera--sometimes showing full body,
>sometimes the face, sometimes focusing on the tendon of the forearm in
>extension--a line as beautiful as any I've seen in dance. This use of the
>technology enabled the audience--the vastly expanded audience--to see the
>choreography and the dancer in ways not possible in a traditional, proscenium
>space. Why is this wrong, or a threat to the dance world?
>Part of my frustration with this thread is the lack of acknowledgement of the
>amount of technology used in "non-tech" dance. Source 4's, lighting boards,
>compact disc players, portable stereos, all are accepted as tools of the
>trade...but suddenly the video camera and the projector and the computer is
>seen as a threat. To me, saying that a dance for the camera isn't dance is
>akin to saying that a CD of Mozart's Requiem isn't music. It's different in
>terms of convenience, and yes, sometimes in terms of quality.
>The times, they are a-changin'...but when aren't they?
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Professor of Dance
School for the Contemporary Arts
Simon Fraser V7V 3A3
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