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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2004 12:48 pm 
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Location: San Ramon High School
All of this goes back to my original post, I think.
That which is truly "great" or "high" or whatever term by which it is defined defies the very discussion of its "greatness".Or, contrarily, its "high" standing is made evident most obviously in the heated arguments that deny it.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 12:44 pm 
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Location: SaintJohn, Canada
There are many criteria by which to measure great dance and technical expertise of a dancer is one of them. On the other hand, technique alone, is not enough, it is only the medium by which you create great choreography. Trained bodies facidiltate a choreographers task and allows him or her to convey what they want, through movement much easier.
Still a dancer with fantastic technique does not make for a great artist, that's for the Olympics. An example, that comes to mind is, Evalyn Hart, a prima ballerina a genius on stage. There are many top ballet dancers that surpass her in technique and younger in age. But she has the ability to transform herself, mask any technical flaws and transport you to another world when you watch her dance.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:20 am 
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What might the other "criteria" be?


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:09 pm 
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I may be a little bit biased, as a tango dancer, but I think tango (as well as other dances--besides ballet and modern) can truely be great dance. The reason in tango is the profound and spontaneous connection between two people and the music creating something together in the moment. There are such moments of genius and inspiration that are not choreographed or rehearsed, and can never be repeated, but are amazing and can transcend the dancer and the observer to another world. This visceral experience, that can almost (or does) make you cry and laugh at the same time I have experienced dancing and watching tango, as well as watching other dances such as flamenco, break dancing, ballet, and modern. This element of dance that evokes and captures such emotion is what makes it great.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 1:49 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Hi rachelssm and welcome to CriticalDance.

Many thanks for your thoughts on tango, which do provide an intriguing counter-example. Even in the tango stage shows where the dances are heavily choreographed, you can soemtimes pick up that electricity, of which you speak.

Tango is clearly a virtuosic dance form, with complex and interesting movement. However, does the restricted nature of the vocabulary and the limited, though intense, emotional breadth separate it from the "High Art" dance forms? I haven't reached any conclusions, but I am looking forward to "Tango Por Dos" at The Peacock.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 8:22 am 
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Location: San Ramon High School
"This visceral experience, that can almost (or does)
make you cry and laugh at the same time I have experienced dancing and watching tango..." presented by Rachelssm is, in my opinion, a nearly perfect nugget describing the "catharsis" required of "High" art. Interesting that a dance form such as tango, whose provenance is the demimonde and claims no pretension whatsoever to the "high" in art, presents such a paradox.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:01 am
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Location: New York City
Quote:
"This visceral experience, that can almost (or does)make you cry and laugh at the same time I have experienced dancing and watching tango..." presented by Rachelssm is, in my opinion, a nearly perfect nugget describing the "catharsis" required of "High" art.
Um, people laugh and cry at daytime TV soap operas, too...not trying to be a pain here, but genuinely struggling for a good definition of great art or whatever, and the release of sentiment doesn't seem to totally cover it...How about great art has the potential to lead the viewer into a transcendant understanding of life, the world, and/or themselves? Don't know, folks, just wondering out loud here....

Also, in answer to what are the other criteria of excellence in a dancer besides technique - well, musicality and expressiveness, for starters. Those can accompany or be fashioned by technique, but not necessarily.

<small>[ 04 March 2004, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: FionaM ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:15 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA,USA
Trina Said:
Quote:
I believe that what is "great" is culturally defined, and must be seen within a historical context
This a a pretty good description of an aesthetic view ( and for that matter, political view ) technically called "Historicism". A good rule of thumb to spot this viewpoint is to keep your eyes open for the word "culture," which is a modern word, and I belive did not exist before the 1800s. ( Other words, such as 'self' relationships, and 'values' have a similar modern basis). A simplistic restatement of historicism would be " beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" at any given place and time. If you believe in this relativist viewpoint, it is meaningless to even ask the question "Is ballet the 'highest' form of dance?"
Although I tend to believe that historical relativism is the way the world works, there is a part of me that wants there are absolutes ( right or wrong, beauty and ugliness, souls instead of selves ). This part of me feels that ballet is the highest form of dance.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:28 am 
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People "laugh" and "cry" at Daytime T.V., but are they experiencing a catharsis, i.e., a cleansing and transcendence of emotions through empathy with the characters? I doubt it. I hardly consider the pathos of "Giselle" equitable with the bathos of "One Life to Live". :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 9:53 pm 
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Location: New York City
exactly. That's why I was reaching for a more developed description than people laughed and they cried.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2004 10:22 pm 
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"Great dance should transcend time and place." I'm not sure if all the "great" works of ballet or modern dance would qualify under this description. With all due respect and as much as I love the work of Martha Graham, just for one example, I don't know if her great masterpieces transcend time and place. I dont' know if a work of hers such as "American Document" or some of her very early solos such as "Lamentation" would be readily understandable or even meaningful, to an audience never exposed to non-Western dance. Or a work such as "Clytemnestra" , which presupposes at least some working knowledge of Greek mythology, would translate well to an audience, say in Burma or China. A least not very readily. Although Graham's works have been performed in Africa and the Near East, I think. This is what I mean by a cultural context. I think it might be interesting to try to come up with some criteria which might apply to all "classics" on a universal basis. It would be very difficult to come up with that criteria, because what is considered beautiful, significant or aesthetically pleasing is widely divergent. :p Of course another point is that we are experiencing a "hybridization" of dance forms, as Stuart pointed out. Different forms are appropriating or borrowing ideas and movment from other forms, and blending them together. Often cross-culturally, in the case of Akram Khan, with kathak and modern/contemporary. So as our world becomes more mobile, fluid and faster paced, I believe that this phenomena will increase. I think we are seeing this already in music.

<small>[ 05 March 2004, 11:42 PM: Message edited by: trina ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2004 2:20 pm 
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But is hybridization a postive development, or does it thin out the wine, so to speak?


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2004 1:45 pm 
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Well, we are wandering a bit off topic. I think I'll create a new topic called "Hybridization in the Arts: Pro and Con". Follow me there, if interested. :D


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:08 pm 
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There is genius in all dance. But the technical vocabulary and intellectual capacity of social, ethnic and recreational dance is limiting. I don't deny that tango can move an audience to tears. Afterall, it is a very dramatic and passionate dance form.


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 Post subject: Re: What is "great" dance?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:16 pm 
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I just posted something but it seems to have disappeared.


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