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 Post subject: Dancers Must Lead Society-Version II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2001 1:26 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 2708
Location: Seattle, WA USA
I was looking through "search" for my old topic, but couldn't find it...oh, well. My teacher at Juilliard, Hanya Holm, once told us that "dancers must lead society". Meaning, that the early modern dance pioneers had set the precedent of being conscious, aware and active in the social issues of the day....the Great Depression, both World Wars, the horrors of racial prejudice, domestic abuse. They all had a "point of view" about these issues. And made the audiences aware of them as well. Many of them, Anna Sokolow, Helen Tamirs, even became politically active themselves. My challenge or question to everyone here is: given the cancellations of tours and performances, economic instability, uncertainty and stress in our daily lives. Mabye we even know families, like Nancy, who have lost members in the WTC. How can we respond, as citizens of the world, artists, persons with conscience. Yes, many of us are concerned with the "nuts and bolts" of keeping our companies, schools and lives together. But at a time of great "gravity" (as Prime Minister Tony Blair so eloquently said), how can we react to try to lend a sense of hope, healing, pain, appeal for justice whatever we might feel to these events? Anyone?<P><p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited October 09, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Dancers Must Lead Society-Version II
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2001 9:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
This is a really heavy topic, Trina. The questions can't be answered in one sitting. Dance means different things to different people. We can all sit through one performance and get different things out of it.<P>However, I recently witnessed a powerful work by Mark Morris, called "The Office," based on a Slavic-themed composition by Dvorak. After each communal dance, a dancer is made to leave the room by an apparatchik, until only one lonely dancer remains at the end. Poignant and sad.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancers Must Lead Society-Version II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2001 4:48 pm 
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Of course the current events are a very heavy topic, Azlan. But having social issues, wars and confrontation as a subject matter for art is one of the basic premises of modern art, especially modern dance. In painting, I can think very specifically of "Guernica" by Picasso as highlighting the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. "The Green Table" by Kurt Jooss, although choreographed in the 1930's and reflective of the horrors of the world wars in Europe, is as relevant and searing today as when it was first composed. You mentioned the Mark Morris piece, which I read somewhere, was his response to the war in Yugoslavia. (Or did you say that?) Wasnt' there also a ballet piece by Val Caniparoli (spelling, help) called "The Bridge", dealing with a Romeo and Juliet type story, also in modern day former Yugoslavia. My original post maybe should have asked the better question: "it will be interesting to see what the artistic repsonses and reactions will be to the recent events".<P><p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited October 23, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Dancers Must Lead Society-Version II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2001 12:53 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I agree trina that some of the most successful works of art in dance and other forms have had a social theme at their heart. If dance artists choose not to go down that route then that's fine too. Artists must follow the inspirational themes that excite them. <P>In the present context while there is a state of shock I can understand that artists leave this theme for a period. How it could be represented is another question and it may be that no one can find a way to tackle this subject.<P>Stephen Petronio was making a piece for the UK group Ricochet when the disaster took place and it will be interesting to see if there are any echoes of this in the work.<P>I sense that there is a greater antipathy to social based works in the US, which may stem from the views of some of the artists and critics from the 30s and 40s who sought to distance themselves from 'political' works.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancers Must Lead Society-Version II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2001 3:46 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1689
Location: USA
I agree that artists must create works through what inspires them. I don't necessarily think that there is an antipathy in the U.S. for creating these types of works as a result of the views of artists and critics in the 30's and 40's. (I wonder that some of that may have been a result of dislike of Roosevelt's WPA program.)I think it is alive and well, or at least alive.<P>For some reason, Russia's and China's insistence on politically centered artistic creations is coming to mind. While there are artists there who felt stifled by this, many others embraced it. I have a Russian sculptor/painter friend who definitely disliked this approach, even though he has commissioned portrait busts of political figures in the Kremlin museum. The only political or social theme his work now reflects, when he rarely chooses, is the persecution of the Jewish people in Russia in the times of the pogroms.<P>Here in this country, there are artists who have been moved by political events to create work reflecting recent events, which is wonderful. I have also seen several call to entries asking artists to submit work in this theme. Personally, I am irritated by requests to create work in a societal or political theme while at the same time recognizing the validity for it. In other words, it works for some artists, but not for me specifically. <p>[This message has been edited by Maggie (edited October 24, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Dancers Must Lead Society-Version II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2001 6:35 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
I think we call work which stridently champions a government message--"propoganda". Not the same as what I was saying, though. Yes, Maggie, it's annoying to have to make art about a certain topic, but a lot of private funders/foundations want to see their issue highlighted. By the same token, I resent anyone dictating what CANNOT be said or depicted in a work of art, but I digress into other<BR>thorny "issues". .....yikes!!!


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