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 Post subject: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2001 1:30 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Allan Ulrich writes about Angelin Preljocaj for 'Voice of Dance' and draws conclusions about life, the Universe and everything:<P><BR><A HREF="http://www.voiceofdance.org/Insights/features.test.cfm?LinkID=25000000000000083" TARGET=_blank><B>Ulrich on Preljocaj and 'Eurodance'</B></A><P>Ye Gods what a poor piece of analysis! Mr Ulrich claims to be writing about something called Eurodance - apparently a very different animal from American dance. I was expecting some attampt to define Eurodance and perhaps American dance. However I suspect that any attempt would have failed. The only commonality I can see linking Helgi Tomasson and Bill T Jones is the geographic fact that they both live in the USA, but that doesn't seem an illuminating way forward.<P>So we are left with something undefined called Eurodance - does this cover the neo-classical ballet of David Bintley to the roller skates and extraordinary happenings of Belgium's Ballet C de B and all things in between? Well, some things are difficult to define and an extensive list may serve as a substitute. In fact the article only really talks about Angelin Preljocaj. <P>There is a passing reference to Bausch, but Tanztheater is a distinctively German phenomenon and is merely one strand in European dance. The well known Siobhan Davies and the much less known Rosemary Butcher are mentioned briefly - both are individualists and provide no basis for a generalisation of even UK dance. Eifman is discussed, but given that Russia has pursued such a radically different approach to dance from the rest of Europe for the past 50 years and Eifman himself is a one-off, this is an exceptionally weak contribution to the argument. <P>Additional major artists would have to be included within such a broad thesis on the isolation of 'Eurodance' from the US experience. For larger scale dance this would include William Forsythe, Hans van Manen, Mats Ek, Jiri Kylian and Christopher Bruce. On a smaller scale Russell Maliphant, Jonathan Burrows, Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker, Philip Decoufle, Shobana Jeyasingh, Akram Khan and others. This represents such a wide range of styles and themes it seems to me that any generalisation of Eurodance is likely to fall as flat as a pancake. <P>However, Mr Ulrich doesn't even try to provide a basis for his contentious generalisation. I don't have a problem with him not liking the two new Preljocaj works. It doesn't surprise me that a large scale avant garde dance work offends some ballet subscribers in San Francisco, but that's what the avant garde has always done from 'L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune' onwards. <P>Thus, Mr Ulrich's attempt to extend an appraisal of two Preljocaj works and a dash of Bausch to the dance experience of Europe in its entirety fails miserably. The question of the universality or otherwise of dance is a big area. Mr Ulrich says '....as alien and as culturally remote as a dance from Mali.' Actually the culture of Mali is much appreciated in the UK. I have a couple of CDs of music from Mali, which are widely available. The second largest non-ballet Company in the UK is Adzido Pan-African Dance Company and a lot of us love it. Thus my experience is that dance enthusiasts can relate to a wide range of dance be it Kathak, Tango, street dance, ballet or whatever. Quality of movement, focus, precision are characteristics that cross cultural boundaries. <P>I can see a lot of similarities between the approaches of Mark Morris and Shobana Jeyasingh. Both draw on a range of dance styles and music from around the world to create a distinctive dance style. Akram Khan, whether he is dancing straight Kathak or a modern/Kathak fusion, is one of the leading male performers in the UK currently. The fact that audiences adore his dancing in either style suggests that the case for the existence of at least elements of universality in dance cannot be easily dismissed. <P>The strange thing is that in rejecting a universalist approach, Mr Ulrich creates the spurious grand generalisation of Eurodance. Given the angry tone that permeates the article it is perhaps unsurprising that his analysis is so deeply flawed. Calm consideration would have been more likely to produce a sensible thesis. <P>Mr Ulrich says, '...to generalize in a way that bespeaks an ignorance born of bias and a lack of exposure.' Contrary to what you might have thought he is not talking about himself. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 01, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2001 11:00 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I haven't had time to digest Allan Ulrich's article nor Stuart's response but I want to say that Mr Ulrich's comments are his alone. They do not represent an American perspective of European Dance nor the view of Voice of Dance.<P>I know many in the European dance community are upset by these comments. If it is any consolation, Mr Ulrich is prone to vitriolic comments that anger even the dance community in his home base of San Francisco.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited June 02, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2001 11:11 am 
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Hmmm . . . <P>I don't have time to compose a cohesive repsonse to the article as a whole, but a few points that strike me:<P>I find "European dance" a fine and useful geographical categorization within which to compare and contrast companies, not impose a vision of sameness on them, so that we can summarily applaud or dismiss them. In the same way I find the distinction American dance useful: it helps me trace the cultural roots of companies, find influences and often significant departures. Ron K. Brown and, say, Stephen Petronio are very different indeed, yet to me both recognizably American. Kylian and Preljocaj are very different, but both recognizably European. They may reflect very different aspects of Europe, but aspects nonetheless.<P>But I wouldn't want the term "Eurodance" to become common. It comes off as snide and condescending in its commercialist coinage--like "EuroDisney," for instance.<P>Also, for myself, I tend not to lump British choreographers into the European Dance pot. The sensibility, the tradition, the cultural context is too different. I suppose when I think European Dance, I think choreographers from the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Czechslovakia, Brussels. Perhaps this is an arbitrary grouping; I'd love to hear of how others define "European Dance," if indeed others out there find it a viable categorization. <P>But one choreographer I definitely do not include in the European Dance category is Boris Eifman. Russian contemporary dance seems to me in a category by itself, because due to Communism continental 20th c. ideas of choreography came to it so late. As for a few stickier examples of "European" choreographers: I'd have to call Forsythe European, even though he is by nationality American, because he has spent so much of his career in Europe and I feel his work is more akin to what is being done in that region than to what is being done in America. On the other hand, someone like Mark Morris, who spent three years in Brussels, is to me inarguably American in sensibility. Maybe it has something to do with his cultural point of reference (I'm thinking of his satire of suburban USA in "Hard Nut," for instance, although that is admittedly one of few good examples).<P>As for the Preljocaj "Le Parc," I don't believe San Francisco Ballet subscribers disliked it because it was too avant-garde. It really wasn't shocking; on the contrary, it was dull. It was simply twice as long as it ought to have been, avant-garde tendencies or not. But then looking at the more recent Preljocaj work, "Paysage," whether or not you found it artistically succesful (I have to say, I did), I think most viewers would agree that "Paysage" was a far more engaging piece, not because it was tame or dumbed down, but because it was packed with ideas.<P>I'm sorry these thoughts aren't well-organized. I'll have to think things over and post again perhaps after others have their say.


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2001 8:55 am 
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Stuart -- I agree with you completely. Ulrich makes too big of a generalization; and he only centered on Preljocaj and Eifman. It seemed to me, IMO, that this article was simply written on his intention to make the point that SFB fans did not enjoy "Le Parc." I wouldn't have titled this article as "Eurodance". IMO, I don't think Preljocaj and Eifman are the main representatives of European dance at all.. This really doesn't make much of a sense to me. I hope some critics do read this board!! Image<P>[This message has been edited by Terry (edited June 02, 2001).]<p>[This message has been edited by Terry (edited June 03, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2001 9:36 am 
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Location: new york, ny usa
i recall that many years ago mr. ulrich described what i thought of as rather nice golden-colored costumes by willa kim for a michael smuin ballet as "ugly, butterfat-colored rags." so.....


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2001 10:13 am 
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Ye gods is correct, Stuart. I simply cannot fathon how Ullrich can stand by what he has written. His basis is so flawed where do we begin to quantify his errors? This is not simply a matter of opinion. It is truely irresponsible journalism. He is credited as being dance and music critic for San Francisco Chronicle. Is he a music critic first? Is San Francisco Chronicle a respectable publication?


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 9:15 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Sounds like you all are experiencing what we in SF have to deal with ALL THE TIME. Mr. Ulrich likes to spout opinions very loosely based in fact. This is a dance critic who barely grasps any of the basic concepts of modern dance. I am not surprised he wrote this article. It just reinforced my belief that this man is not able to see and appreciate any subtlety in performance or choreography with which "Le Parc" was filled.<P>BTW, the Chronicle is generally considered a respectable publication, though it has it's critics as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 3:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Whoa... Can we keep this thread to the issue... To paraphrase Salzberg, let's discuss the issue and not attack the man...<P>To answer your question, DigbyRH, the SF Chronicle is the main newspaper in the SF Bay Area. They were recently bought however by the Hearsts who used to run the SF Examiner (before they sold it to the Fangs). The Examiner was infamous for its sensationalism. As far as I know, virtually every Hearst employee joined the SF Chronicle after the acquisition. Allan Ulrich was one of them.


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 12:40 pm 
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Sorry... I guess that sounded a bit bitter.<P>At least our newspapers review dance, right.


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 Post subject: Re: Allan Ulrich on Eurodance
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2001 11:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
A related topic in this review of Nacho Duato's work:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>AMERICAN MODERN MORPHS INTO EURO-SMASH</B><P>CLIVE BARNES, NY Post<P>July 27, 2001 -- EUROPE has taken American modern dance and, not unexpectedly, made something European out of it. <BR>Yet another example of this European "third-stream dance," a fusion of classic ballet with modern forms, is one very glamorous show at the New York State Theater as the final dance presentation of Lincoln Center Festival 2001.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.nypost.com/07272001/entertainment/30190.htm" TARGET=_blank><B>More</B></A>


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