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 Post subject: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 1999 8:57 am 
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The retiring Artistic Director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago said American dance companies are using the same popular choreographers over and over again. He also said this is why many American companies are developing a similar style.<P>How are things different in the rest of the world? Must we go abroad to see these other styles?


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 1999 7:00 pm 
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You must have gone to the same performance I did or maybe it's a standard speech by Lou Conte, the artistic director of Hubbard Street.<P>I wonder if this is also not true of ballet companies. Someone told me that there are many ballet companies out there that feel they have not come of age until they have a Balanchine in their repertoire. It's like a mark of excellence, says my friend.


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 1999 9:14 am 
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This is the essence of the argument that cannot be new. Today it is Mr. B that is at the heart of the firestorm. <P>The balanchine franchising is a danger, without doubt. If a company stifles other works simply to placate audiences, donors and biased critics, then it is a bad thing. On the otherhand, your friend is absolutely correct that the franchising can lend the leg up to allow companies to gain the foundation necessary to be adventurous (sp?)<P>I look at Carolina Ballet as a great example of the latter. While using the Balanchine works to their fullest extent, they have brought many established contemporary choreog. while creating a new Christmas work, Messiah and traditional full lengths like Romeo and Juliet.<P>It depends on the courage of the director and the Bd whether they have to guts to expand. I don't beleive that any company outside of NYCB should be set up as nothing more than a conservatorship for the Balanchine trust.


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2000 8:25 pm 
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The more I see the more I see the same... I thought it would be good to revisit this topic because this last season has been somewhat of a blur to me, with only a handful of works sticking out in my memory. Is this an indication that most works presented here in the US are so similar to each other?<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited May 06, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 3:39 am 
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your post is interesting, azlan, and rings a few bells for me...i have just been thinking that it's because i'm 'getting old' that there begins to be such a sameness about everything one sees, and how rare it is to be startled (at least pleasantly so!!)...<P>certainly there are an awful lot of so-called modern or contemporary dance works that are SO tiresomely OLD...and also an awful lot of balanchine-imitators (lacking, obviously, his inspiration...and sometimes even his basic craft).<P>oops! forgot to say that the REALLY interesting thing is, if/when you go overseas as the first post suggested...you DON'T see something different! - the same stuff comes up at the same time, EVERYWHERE - in my experience...<p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited May 06, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 4:31 am 
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I am in agreement with that "same old thing" effect. I don't think this is new to this time frame. I think it's a historical continuance. Things seem to come in waves, when creative surges seem to happen. Oftentimes, people confuse creativity with something that is allegedly "avant garde." Just because something appears avant garde doesn't mean that it has a true creative, artistic spirit. The public may not always accept what is new, regardless of whether it shows true artistry or not, (an old example, Nijinsky, L'apres-Midi d'un Faune, the converse is, they may like and accept it whether it shows true artistry or not. (I certainly don't want to get into a discussion here on who is qualified to decide, often time clears that question up.)<BR>These factors coupled with the age-old, and I mean going back centuries, problem of support for the arts/artists creates scenarios that oftentimes, though not always affect the outcome of artistic production. The public/stockholders/consumers hold the financial control in many cases. Speaking as a former dancer, current artist, I see this as true in the art world. How many artists, in order so make a living try to give the public what they want while trying to maintain the integrity of their creative process? With a financial situation under a certain amount of control, the artist can create with freedom and sometimes, the rest of the world catches on. I think I will stop and leave this as it is. I think everyone can see all the directions this can go in.<BR>Magie<p>[This message has been edited by Maggie (edited May 06, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 9:15 am 
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Perhaps we are talking degrees here. Maggie, your comment taken from a much broader perspective implies that if we were to take a slice of choreography from today and compare it to a slice from several decades ago, we would we see marked differences. I wonder though if we would see more differences between choreographies then than we do now.<P>Grace, perhaps your international eye for dance lets you see things differently than I do. As for me, I do see differences between American and European companies. I see choreography from Europe that is different than here in the US but maybe that is because I don't get to see very much of it and any slight thing they do different appeals to me. Perhaps if I got to see more European works, I will start seeing the accursed "sameness."


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 10:16 am 
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I've never been to the States, so this is not a topic I felt I could really comment on, but I would like to respond to what some of you have been saying.<BR>I think it is very important to study all the aspects of what it took, when dance has transcended its natural bedrock of adherents and captured and inspired the publics imagination.<BR>When we can understand all these dynamics and translate them into the current living language; to express the time, now, we can stand half a chance to replicate the success.<BR>Given that real talent exists in all elements.


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 10:52 am 
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Azlan, I don't think I meant to compare today's choreography with yesterday's. I think I am drawing parallels between different times. I wonder if people argued about the sameness of dance during different eras and complained that the creativity had gone, at least until the next wave of creativity occurred. Or that people, when presented with something new, either embraced or abhorred it. How many new, experimental works were created that just disappeared entirely because ultimately they were truly awful. And the new experimental works that survived, even though there were mixed opinions regarding them. Time gave these a chance to become new classics, as it were. Regarding the sameness of work and provincialism, I still say financial considerations often dictate. There is a saying, "sell to the masses and eat with the classe, or sell to the classes and eat with the masses." At the very dangerous possibility of sounding elitist, the masses prefer other pursuits, and prefer what they expect things should be. There's more of them available to buy the tickets, and the artwork. I'll admit that this is a nasty generalization, and I like to think that it IS more colors and less black and white. I can think of a whole other approach regarding the onset of the industrial age, but not now!<BR>Maggie


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 9:05 pm 
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fascinating saying, Maggie, which i have never heard before, and which certainly can be applied in my life! (i.e. maintaining high standards and principles, and remaining poor!)

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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2000 10:40 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I saw the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Berkeley tonight and I thought to myself, "Now here's something different." Interestingly, even though Merce's works tend to be cerebral and don't typically fit the populist mould, he still draws huge crowds. Tonight I saw modern dance that didn't look at all like Paul Taylor's works. How refreshing! As much as I like Paul Taylor, it was nice for a change to see dance that isn't literal. (Incidentally, I spotted PTDC's Lisa Viola at the concession stand getting something to drink).<P>Also remarkably, one work, Summerspace, was from 1958 while the other, Interscape, is from this year. Two "refreshing" works from different decades!<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited May 07, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2000 4:33 am 
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Well, all, I came back to this one because it's been on my mind. Actually, it's stays in the back, but has been brought to the fore with this thread. I'm out here in the wild west of USA, and we tend to starve a bit dancewise. I moved to this area about 20 years ago, and immediately missed the availability of good dance. It's not that it's a wasteland here, it's just a bit meagre, and it's difficult for new things to spring up due to lack of support. I used to travel a great deal, and now travel less. When I did, I sponged up as much dance as possible. I keep up any way I can as it's necessary for inspiration for my art. One must go to the well. It's been wonderful to discover this board and read the reviews and comments, and explore the websites and hear the personal views of the people that post here. This is such a big country, it's no wonder it has a provinciality to it. I think things are improving. It's come a long way in fifty years in regards to dance. Still.....


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2000 8:28 pm 
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Maggie, whereabouts are you located if you don't mind me asking?<P>Does anyone know of a book or a video that dwelves into the evolution of modern dance? I know there are several books out there that go into the different choreographers and trendsetters of dance. But do any of these books go into the evolution itself?


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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2000 8:35 pm 
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"dwelves"? <P>what a GREAT word! Image

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 Post subject: Re: American Provincialism
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2000 4:13 am 
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I dwell in Colorado with elves.


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