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 Post subject: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2001 7:42 am 
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From the New York Times:<P><B>IN DANCE, PRESERVING A PRECARIOUS LEGACY BEGINS ONSTAGE</B><P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>ONCE the arcane domain of historians and librarians, preservation has become a veritable rallying cry throughout the dance world. Maybe it's a sign of the flagging energy of contemporary dance, or a case of millennial self-consciousness about the past and future, or the result of conservative funding priorities, but preservation now occupies a top spot on the field's agenda. Organizations like the Dance Heritage Coalition, the National Initiative to Preserve America's Dance and the George Balanchine Foundation have succeeded in raising consciousness about the critical and immediate need to safeguard the notoriously precarious legacy of American dance.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR><A HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/18/arts/18DALY.html" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A><P> <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited February 18, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2001 6:43 pm 
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Ann Daly has a few interesting things to say about the Graham company in the article above.


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2001 12:23 am 
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Various ideas are prompted by this piece. I guess there may be different approaches in different countries to preservation in general, though the situation regarding ballet throws up remarkable parallels (and contrasts) in the UK and USA. Balanchine and Ashton, founding choreographers both, were born a few months apart in 1904. Balanchine professed no interest in preserving his work according to a conversation reported in 'Dance as a Theatre Art' (ed. Cohen) - "Dance is NOW", he said. Fortunately not everybody believed him and the Balanchine Foundation does its job. Ashton, on the other hand, passed the ownership of his ballets to various dancers, so a different set of problems ensues.<P>Style is related to the time in which it is created. In music, there has been an enormous amount of work done in the field of authentic performance of works from the baroque and classical periods. However, recordings of 'authentic' performances from the 1960's and from the 1990's hardly seem to come from the same planet! Perhaps something of the 'present' era creeps in. <P>In ballet, we see new developments in the post-Soviet era: the Kirov, for instance, trying to rediscover what Sleeping Beauty looked like when it was performed for the Tsar (though they couldn't help including a few examples of what our critics generally refer to as 'vertiginous extensions'!). Will the new freedom to travel for Russian citizens cause another wave of Russian influence in the West? (cf. the influence of Russian dance teachers in Hollywood and on Broadway in the post 1917 era; and is pre-Fosse choreography a subject ripe for preservation?!).<P>In the UK the continuation of the Ashton tradition is always a lively topic. The world that Ashton knew was very different from multi-cultural Britain trying to find its way in 2001. He was able to re-create beautifully the genteel times of Edwardian England in 'Enigma Variations', for instance. He (and his designer) knew a different world with a different pace of life; it feels as if music, choreography, and décor fit each other perfectly. <P>The seminal period of development for English ballet in the 1930's took place at a time when the arts would inevitably reflect the well-mannered restraint of the English middle classes; music too exhibited the same qualities of neatness and understatement. I was a student at the Royal College of Music (London) in the 1960's; you could still sense a connection with traditions from earlier in the century, but (as the song had it) the times were a-changing.<P>Preservation will always be difficult, and (presumably) not least in dance because bodies are different (bigger and/or longer). However, there are some things which must be looked after carefully before we get ourselves into the performing arts equivalent of international airline cuisine. I was talking about that quintessential American piece, Appalachian Spring with some American visitors about 18 months ago; it seemed to be something of the past, and that was that. This brings me back to my opening remarks; how is 'the now' regarded (by anyone)? Is that what has prompted the article in the NY Times?


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2001 5:50 am 
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Here is the web-site for the Dance Heritage Coalition.<P> <A HREF="http://www.danceheritage.org" TARGET=_blank>http://www.danceheritage.org</A> <P>This is a very informative web-site, and I recommend anyone interested in preserving dance to visit it for more information.<P>"The poems of Homer wer first written down about 2600 years ago: at that moment an otherwise ephemeral art was suddenly preserved for the millennia. It took the invention of writing to do that.<P>The twentieth century has seen the invention of media and technology that, for the first time ever, make it posible to preserve the heritage of dance. With that we have our first opportunity to preserve the legacy of a century of innovation, and pass it along to the creative men and women who will follow us. let us not miss this grand opportunity."<BR> Lewis Hyde, Henry Luce Professor of Art and Politics, Kenyon College<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2001 7:36 am 
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While we have various means of preservation - video tape, notation, etc. - I wonder about some of the details of the preservation.<P>As we know choreographers often changed their own works - which version shall be preserved? If the choreographer changed it - does that mean he/she did not like the first version? or was it changed to better suit subsequent dancers? How will we convey what was the choreographer's intent - the words that he/she spoke while choreographing that elucidated the intent?<P>In the past this was always (or almost always) passed on hand to hand. <P>If we use an archive to resusitate a work do we "update" its style? <P>Dance is such an ephemeral art form...and presents us with great difficulties of preservation. <P>Please, don't take this that I am in any way against preservation - I certainly am all in favor of it, but these are just questions that I ask myself.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited February 19, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2001 7:50 am 
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Basheva, when I have time, I will address/post some of the intents and purposes of the Dance Heritage Coalition. They are multi-faceted and well organized.


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2001 10:06 am 
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As long as there's money for new dance and not everyone's sitting on their money waiting to "save up" dance. New! New! New!<P>Though I'm all for making sure we have ways to access what's gone before.


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2001 3:37 am 
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This is a a fascinating area. Although some dancers' memories are a remarkable treasure trove and earlier notation systems have been employed, the advent of the Laban and Benesh methods means that a lot of work will now be preserved for the future in something like the form it was originally seen. It is an irony that one of the early contributors to the Laban system, Kurt Jooss, only had about 4 of his 50 or so works notated, late in his career. He seemed rather unconcerned, feeling that dance was of its time.<P>The great ballet works of the last 50 years will be preserved, although Richard is right that the Ashton legacy is the most vulnerable one of the 'greats'. The problem now is one of interpretation and whether the degree of flexibility, that most choreographers are happy to extend to new dancers tackling their work, will continue. I have heard it said that some MacMillan work by companies other than the RB can appear dead becuase there has been such strict adherence to the notation. <P>Opinions varied about the RB's staging of L'Après-midi d'un faune (1912) by Ann Hutchinson Guest and Claudia Jeschke, who cracked the code of Nijinsky's own notated score. Some critics found it a revelation, but I found it rather dead and apparently the dancers hated the experience as every mm of movement was specified by the two stagers. Questions arise of course as to whether they have really cracked every nuance of the annotation and also whether this was what appeared on stage. The erotic trembling with the scarf at the end was not presented as it was not in the notation. <P>As I have reported elsewhere, Rambert had great problems with the Tudor Trust regarding original version of 'Dark Elegies' that they wanted to perform, because it was not the version that the Trust had. This sounds like an abuse of notation.<P>In Modern Dance different considerations apply. I recently went to a Rambert Masterclass where Siobhan Davies talked about her revival of a work made for Rambert in the late 80s. As far as we could tell there will be little of the original work to be seen. As she says, I've made progress as a choreographer since then and want to bring that additional experience to bear. The dancers were generating new phrases that were then combined by Davies into sequences. Davies was unsure whether the work will be notated by Rambert, but clearly it was not high on her list of priorities.<P>A number of such modern dance pieces are on film, but I suspect that much super work will not be seen by future generations. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited February 20, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Preserving the Legacy of Dance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2001 7:51 am 
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From the Boston Globe:<P><B>THE PROBLEMS OF PRESERVING DANCE LEGACIES</B><P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Until the year 2053, a ballet company won't be able to perform the works of George Balanchine without a license. Balanchine, one of history's greatest classical choreographers, died in 1983. American intellectual property law gives heirs to copyrighted works - including dances - 70 years of exclusive rights before the works pass into the public domain.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/056/living/The_problems_of_preserving_dance_legacies+.shtml" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A><BR>


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