CriticalDance Forum

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Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 14, 2000 3:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Grace-I thought the question was how to define a choreographer and their aesthetic, rather than dancer's techniques. Also, I feel that there is a difference between a "quantitative" critique ("the greatest dancer in the world") and a "qualitative" critique"-("my work is post-modern").

Author:  grace [ Tue Mar 14, 2000 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

OK trina, i obviously came across as too flippant. i did not mean to offend you. sorry!<P>all i was trying to do was inject some levity.<P>what i meant was, that one is not necessarily what one CLAIMS to be.<P>its a good STARTING point - what the person SAYS they are, or their work is - and it will most OFTEN be accurate, BUT it MAY not be the end point...<P>

Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 14, 2000 8:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Grace-good point! The dialogue between what the artist intends and what the public and critics perceive (and even perceives over a long period of time;like various changing interpretations of Balanchine's work over the years)is the exciting part of art. Even visual artists sometimes may do something whimsically, but then it's interpreted very seriously by critics. Merce Cunningham sometimes seems very postmodern; other times "classical" in his purity. A lot depends on the experience and background of the viewer. As a modern dancer, works that I would consider "classical" modern dance, like Martha Graham's work is perceived as "weird" sometimes by students who have no experience or context in which to view that type of work, ie. all they may have seen is traditional ballet. Of course, critics have more experience.

Author:  Jennifer [ Wed Mar 15, 2000 5:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

What a great discussion! I can't leave here without adding my thoughts. <P>Reviews are written to give the public a sense or a picture of a dance work so that these potential viewers might be more enthusiastic about attending an event or at least gain some insight into what's going on in the dance world, right? In today's world, so many people travel, move around the globe and speak more than one language and use the Internet. With such conflicting terminology flying around (I have already been scolded for the "wrong usage of a definition" on a similar chat site) shouldn't we try to unveil what the choreographer hopes to convey and use that as a benchmark? I'm not talking about qualitative definitions here, rather descriptive ones. Elizabeth Zimmer, dance editor for the Village Voice (NY) seems to apply the same notion, as Marcia Siegel and I tend to agree.<P>For me, an Australian, it's obvious that "contemporary" means "of our time" but for the next person it has a while different connotation. The key? It might be to steer clear of categorizing dance, rather, try to conjure an image of the work then uncover how or if the choreographer fulfilled his/her agenda. Relating the dance to what other dance-makers are doing or have done in the past and even what other artists are doing will also help the inexperienced viewer gain access to an art-form that might otherwise go unnoticed.<BR>

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Mar 16, 2000 11:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

What Jennifer wrote goes back to an argument I made awhile ago. Dance terminology should be used very carefully. If those who do not belong to the same "school" cannot agree on the same terminology, imagine the poor unsuspecting reader. I believe dance writers need to be aware of who the target audience is. There is a simplistic dance terminology used by common folk that writers need to respect.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited 03-17-2000).]

Author:  trina [ Thu Mar 16, 2000 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Another question is who is the critic writing to/for?-prospective audience members, the choreographer and other dance artists, whom? What reading level and sophistication level, (arts wise)can we critic in (during a dance community forum)Seattle said that their newspaper was geared to a "general audience" and the reading level they assumed was 8 th grade! So this is an important question!

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Thu Mar 16, 2000 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

The critic should be writing for the audience of which he/she is a member, I believe, instead of for the artists under review.

Author:  grace [ Thu Mar 16, 2000 9:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

trina, i believe, just as a piece of general knowledge, that the '8th-grade reading level assumption' by the popular press is commonly accepted -and often seems generous to me, when you look at the calibre of letters to the editor ! - but of course that depends on the publication. Image<P>in answer to your significant question: WHO DO WE WRITE FOR? we write for our readers.<P>i am lucky - i write for australia's dance community, since dance australia is the only national dance magazine in australia (like your Dance Magazine), so i have a dance-sophisticated audience of connoisseurs, and can have the luxury of writing accordingly. this means i can go into depths and details that the general audience wouldn't understand, and don't need to.<P>if/when i write for a different audience, i write differently.<P>and for THAT general audience, there is NO difference between what 'they' understand by the terms 'modern' or 'contemporary' in regard to dance. people read quite superficially - especially the daily newspapers.<P>(by the way, i have posted you a message on that musical theatre dance thread you started a while ago.)

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Mar 17, 2000 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

You know, this thread should be merged with the "Power of Critics" thread, if I can figure out how. But to keep to the topic in each of these two threads, I will respond to Grace's comments in the other.

Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Anyone interested in this topic needs to read this month's Dance Magazine, specifically "letter from the editor" Richard Philip. In this letter the addresses this whole issue of terminology. Apparently he (RP) went to various "modern choreographers" and asked them to define modern dance, or "are you a modern choreographer"? When Mr. Philip asked Paul Taylor this question, Taylor said "he had not idea what modern dance was any longer. I just makes dances...." The quote goes on, as does the article to make some excellent points. I guess the gist of the article is that hardly anybody wants to be defined as a modern choreographer anymore. Huh!! What to make of this?!?!?!

Author:  grace [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 5:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

trina, i haven't seen the article, but i would interpret this thought a little more widely, perhaps...that NOBODY creative wants to be pigeonholed or labeled as ANYTHING. and fair enough.<P>its just that in order to communicate with a readership, for example, one HAS to reduce things to words... and therefore to accept some commonly used categories and definitions.

Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 21, 2000 7:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Well, I'll be bold here and say unapologetically that I'm a "modern" choreographer. Gosh, it feels like I'm an American politician who is afraid of being called "liberal" or something....Wow!<BR> I guess the reason that I identify myself thusly is that my teachers and those who've influenced come from certain lineages-Graham and Limon/Humphrey/Weidman, that I feel are important to acknowledge, or better yet, to see as a "point of departure". Much as one might want to acknowledge one's familial genealogy. Of course, not all artists choose to identify themselves this way, nor even acknowledge their artistic lineage, per se. There are probably as many opinions as there are artists. What I DO strongly beleive (because I work in dance education field as well) is to be able, in a succinct and as simple a way possible, to articulate what it is that you do, (or are trying to do) aesthetically. It is important for the field of dance to make our work understandable to the public at large. Of course,not an easy task...I know because I've been trying to do this for over 20 years...!!but one worth trying!!!. <p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited 03-21-2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Mar 26, 2000 7:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

trina, you *are* bold! Well, not really. I think there are many modern dance choreographers who will admit to being just that but with so much crossover creativity, it gets confusing. And I'm not just talking about crossovers between dance disciplines but also between art forms. I remember martial arts movies described as "action ballets."

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