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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:57 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
The power to provoke
Dance confronts politics - especially sexual politics - in a way no other art form can, writes Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

Bill T Jones claims that he has mellowed with age, but there's no question that the trajectory of his 20-year career has been heavily fuelled by anger. The ferocity with which he has embraced being black, gay and HIV positive; the ferocity with which his dances have battled the prejudice attached to those labels; the ferocity of his determination to make the stage "a place of public witness" - all have made him a notorious figure in his profession.

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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:41 am 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
Whatever the situation is between politics and dance, i agree with Balletlover in that politics and dance, along with other art forms, should be kept completely seperate. dance, drama, film is all about escaping reality and enjoying an evening of entertainment, and so the last thing i want is a writer/choreographer trying to incorporate his/her political opinions into their works. ahving said that, Bruce's Ghost Dances is my all time favourite, but that was kept clean of political opinions, thank goodness.


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:10 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Alex, you're certainly entitled to that opinion -- and it's one shared by many -- but there are many others who feel just as strongly that it's the artist's role to comment on the world around -- and politics is part of that world.

Our culture would be so much the poorer with no Casablanca, Inherit the Wind, Casablanca, The Green Table, Casablanca....

<small>[ 06 June 2004, 11:11 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:51 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Alex R, I don't agree that "Ghost Dances" is free of political opinion. I think that acknowledging that people suffer under oppressive governments is a very political statement.


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 3:42 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I do have to agree that "Ghost Dances" is highly political. In fact it might be one of the more famous politic dance works of this decade. It is a rallying cry against oppressive governments.

Politics and art have always been intertwined in history in one way or another. Most people today are so used to listening to Mozart, appreciating Picasso, or watching a Stanley Kubrick movie that we forget that they and many creative forces were inspired by the events in their lives that were driven by politics.


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:34 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Here's the link to our interview with Christopher Bruce on the theme of dance and human rights at the time of the revival of "Ghost Dances":

http://www.criticaldance.com/interviews/1999/cbruce990700.html

<small>[ 06 June 2004, 06:35 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:14 pm 
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djb i do agree that Ghost Dances does acknowledge that people suffer under oppressive governments and that is a very political statement, maybe i wasn't very clear with my initial comments (and for that i apologise). Having studied Bruce for A-level, i am aware that he has many strong political concerns, and the very theme of Ghost Dances shows this, but to me (and Bruce's works are all about audience interpretation) the message of Ghost Dances, and some of his other works (e.g. Rooster) is simply: 'this is what life was like for these people, it was horrific' and that's it. he has refrained from expressing his concerns about what we should be done so stop people suffering under opressive governments, that is for the politicians. that is what i like about Bruce's works, he makes us aware of the issues and how bad they are, (it does not, or should not take a 30 minute dance to show you that the political opression in South America was a terrible thing) but does not try to manipulate our own concerns through his works to match his.
again, if i have not made my wording very clear, i apologise.

<small>[ 07 June 2004, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: Alex R ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm 
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Location: San Ramon High School
May I please add to Salzberg's list: Picasso's "Guernica", Judy Chicago's "The Table", and most notably, in my opinion, U-2's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday"...my God, why should art be without politics? What about "Alice in Wonderland"? "Romeo and Juliet", "Othello"...I mean the list is endless. Lars Lubovitch's (sp?) balletic rendition of the political machinations in "Macbeth" was, in my opinion, brilliant.


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:35 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
You are clear Alex R and I agree that Bruce does not offer any quick fixes in this work or "Swansong". While Bruce does address political themes, he avoids propaganda in his dance works. The same approach applies to Picasso's "Guernica" and a range of other art works.


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:40 pm 
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Oops, I meant Lars Lubovitch's (sp.) "Othello"


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:23 pm 
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"Lubovitch" is fine, but his first name is "Lar."


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 2:59 am 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
Why should art be without politics? without revealing my own political opinions this is why: i don't think that it can't be argued that some people, after recent events and decisions made by the British government, feel that the political situation in this country is appauling, so why when these people go to the theatre, whether it be to see a piece of dance or drama, would they want to be reminded of the appauling situation that they feel this country is in? for me both theatre and film are places where people can go to forget about life's troubles for a time, so if politics continues to spread in theatre, where will people be able to go to escape it then?
If an artist feels that they have to include politics in their work, it should only be to make thair audience aware of the political issue in question. Propaganda should be left to the politicians.

<small>[ 08 June 2004, 05:37 AM: Message edited by: Alex R ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 3:44 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Alex, you always have the option of attending apolitical art; insisting that no art refer politics, you're denying those of us who want to the option of attending political art.

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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 3:47 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
so if politics continues to spread in theatre, where will people be able to go to escape it then?
There is no doubt that Entertainment will continue to be the largest performance sector, whether it be Hollywood or "Riverdance" and there is nothing wrong with that, especially in this era when the divisions between "High" and "Low" art become more and more blurred.

Nevertheless, the performing arts have always addressed serious issues such as problem relationships and social issues. The award winning films of Ken Loach are a prime example. Much as I enjoy some pure entertainments such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", I dread the day when the performing arts cease to tackle issues as "Ghost Dances" does.

Alex, perhaps it's useful to separate "party politics", which is rarely going to be on any interest in performance arts from "political themes" such as South American oppression and the bombing of Guernica in Spain, which have inspired some of the great art works mentioned in this topic.

Thanks again Alex for reviving this fascinating discussion.

<small>[ 08 June 2004, 10:24 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Politics and Dance
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 7:59 am 
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Location: San Ramon High School
I think that we need to define "political"...apparantely our definitions are incongruent. For me, "political" suggests that which concerns the study, structure and interactions of human conduct and relationships from the macro, i.e., "state government" to the micro, "workplace and household". Therefore, to suggest that art not be "political" pretty much
wipes out all "art" from the "Iliad" onwards don't you think? Entertainment is not necessarily "art". Britney Spears is "entertaining". Macy Gray is "art". Much of Michael Smuin is "entertaining". Most of Kilian is "art".


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