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Terminology
http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1385
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Mar 05, 2000 9:39 am ]
Post subject:  Terminology

I'm taking the liberty of reproducing a discussion which cropped up between grace from Australia and myself, on a different part of the Board. I thought it might be interesting for US readers and others to read about how the different English-speaking countries (I'm being generous here and including the US in this category - only joking) use the terms 'modern' and 'contemporary'. <P>If anyone has any other thoughts on these terms, please share them with us. <P>*****************************************<P>Stuart: By the way, on this Board I talk about 'modern' dance, but in the UK we call it 'contemporary' dance. Which convention do you adopt in Australia?<P>grace: re 'contemporary'/'modern' : what a can of worms you ask me to open!!!! i will try to AVOID doing so! answer (of sorts): MY definition is that 'modern' NOW refers to the legacy of humphrey, laban, graham, limon, etc (!), whereas 'contemporary' means 'of our time' - and therefore means whatever's happening today.<P>this of course also means that 'contemporary ballet' means ballet of today. <P>but i am a dance writer (amongst other things) and therefore have had to develop care with words and use of precise terminology. most people would be hard-pressed to differentiate between these two words in common dance usage.<P>Stuart: Grace, your use of the terms is very much the way they are used in Fine Art in the UK and I think elsewhere in Continental Europe. In Dance, the situation is different here. Two friends have told me that when Graham technique came to the UK in the 60s, the term 'modern' was already in use for stage dance and this was the name given to some examination syllabuses. <P>Thus it was not possible to use the term 'modern' in the UK for this new discipline. The first UK school teaching Graham technique, and more recently other dance techniques as well, in London's 'The Place' was named London Contemporary Dance School. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 03-05-2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Mar 05, 2000 9:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Now, Stuart, you are opening a can of worms. I remember a colleague from Paris referring to ballet and modern/contemporary dance as "ballet," to differentiate from non-artistic forms of dance. Now, does this muck up everyone else's established terminologies?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Mar 05, 2000 11:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

My experience is the same as yours, Azlan. In Continental Europe, the term ballet is often used to cover all dance. A German friend of mine, an occasional dance goer (rather than a sad obsessive like me) was puzzled by the use of modern/contemporary dance - it was all ballet to her. One of the world's first modern dance companies was the Ballett Jooss from Germany. <P>In France, the leading Internet dance historian, Estelle Souchet, referred to Martha Graham as ballet and one of the key modern dance companies is called Ballet Preljocaj. <BR> <BR>There are those (no names no pack drill) who try to impose the Anglo-Saxon definition of the word 'ballet' on the rest of the World, but this is just opinionated cultural imperialism in my view. <P>Definitions of terms such as ballet and modern/contemporary dance clearly vary with time and geography. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 03-06-2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Mar 06, 2000 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Ooh, Stuart, I'm glad you decided to stay "civilized" on this issue. We wouldn't want to start another flame war, would we?<P>As far terminology goes, it is fascinating to me that there is no one common language and that terms differ even within the same culture. In the world of business and engineering, this would creat chaos. Actually, what am I talking about? It already has, with a very expensive piece of NASA equipment becoming nothing more than space debris because someone used metric instead of English units...<P>But what happens at a dance conference or symposium? Does the host set the terminology for the session? Or does everyone double-speak? "In the world of ballet, otherwise referred to as ballet and modern dance in the US, the latter of which is also known as modern and contemporary dance in Australia, but does not include circus-influenced theatrical performances, we find that..."<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited 03-06-2000).]

Author:  grace [ Mon Mar 06, 2000 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

what FUN this thread will be, when i have time!..........<P>i'm just glad I wasn't the one to kick it off (at least not directly).<P>i am very interested by the 'modern' stage dance syllabus comment made above, because i know this syllabus a bit, and kind of wondered how it came to consist of what it does. now i understand better. thanks.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Mar 06, 2000 9:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Grace, I am sorry but you will have to take responsibility for starting this thread. It was your comments that inspired the otherwise mild-mannered Stuart.<P>Now, just to muck things up a bit more... has anyone heard of the term "modern ballet?" I vaguely remember hearing someone in Europe using that term. What on earth could they have meant?

Author:  trina [ Tue Mar 07, 2000 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Grace: I'm intersted in what you describe as a "modern dance stage syllabus". What organizatoin developed such a syllabus? I know of no modern technique which has one-except for maybe the Martha Graham School in New York, and maybe R.A.D. Daniel Lewis, a former teacher of mine at Juilliard has put out a book on Jose Limon techinque. I am curious if you could refer me to how I could obtain such a syllabus?

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Mar 07, 2000 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Note this thread has been moved from the Behind The Scenes/Backstage forum.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited 03-07-2000).]

Author:  grace [ Wed Mar 08, 2000 4:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

OK trina! it's the ISTD in london (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing). its as big and as influential internationally as the RAD, but probably less known in america. they have syllabi for ballroom also! anyway, their "modern" syllabus is not very (modern , that is!). but its certainly useful for what it does.<P>they have a website, but right now i can't remember the URL. get back to me if you're desperate for it!<P>re the limon book: WOW you know the author? i've always liked that book!<P>re other 'modern' syllabi: no, unfortunately the graham school have no publicly available syllabus (i asked a few years ago...) and the RAD certainly don't -but at present they are considering whether they should construct one! <P>if you would like to offer YOUR opinion (or anyone else?) their (newly opened) website is <A HREF="http://www.rad.org.uk" TARGET=_blank>www.rad.org.uk</A> and they are kicking it off with an open survey about their image, their methods, their standards, etc.<P>hey azlan - as i explained elsewhere to trina, i would never have volunteered this info unless stuart had asked me DIRECTLY - which he DID! so: blame goes back to the supposedly mild-mannered stuart!<P>do you notice how skilfully i actually avoided contributing anything (more) to stuart's actual topic here???! Image<P>

Author:  trina [ Wed Mar 08, 2000 2:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Further comment about classification/terminology. Marica Siegel, a great dance author/critic made an important comment in a writing seminar I took with her. She said that the best way to classify/define a choreographer was to look at the artist's OWN definition of their work. She said this was the most accurate, fair and best way to define any given choreographer.

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Mar 10, 2000 11:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

grace, as far as I am concerned, you can volunteer whatever information you want without being asked directly. Image<P>And, why not add to this conversation? What are you afraid of? It's not fun when we don't have a debate between great minds.

Author:  grace [ Sat Mar 11, 2000 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

thanks, azlan! Image<P>what am i afraid of? well, i love debate, but not attack, and it's a fine line with the printed word - especially when one doesn't know the author, and exactly how they might be meaning their comment/s. this is a general comment about internet discussions on any board.<P>the problem arises particularly, i think, because we all talk to a much wider range of people via the internet, than we do in our normal lives (which are narrowed by circumstances).<P>so we share less assumptions about what we value, what we mean. so there is more room for misunderstandings, and a LOT more explaining to do...<P>

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Mon Mar 13, 2000 4:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Trina wrote -<P>Further comment about classification/terminology. Marica Siegel, a great dance author/critic made an important comment in a writing seminar I took with her. She said that the best way to classify/define a choreographer was to look at the artist's OWN definition of their work. She said this was the most accurate, fair and best way to define any given choreographer.<BR>------<P>Trina, I wasn't quite sure what you meant. Do you mean that a choreographer's own definition of whether his dance is ballet or modern dance should be the terminology?<P>Actually Siegel was in Hong Kong last week to chair a local dance writers' seminar.

Author:  trina [ Mon Mar 13, 2000 1:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

Yes, the choreographers "self-definition" was the most accurate or reliable, is what Siegel said.

Author:  grace [ Mon Mar 13, 2000 4:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Terminology

kevin & trina:<P>nice idea, but i think that may be overgenerous...<P>if i say i'm the greatest dancer in the world, does that make it so? Image

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