In Time Together
By Linda Caldwell, editor
These Proceedings, arising from the 2010 World Dance Alliance Global Summit, reflect the diversity of interests and cultural contexts of the presenters in the New York conference. The authors highlighted within the Proceedings provide evidence of the energy and excitement felt when imagining the discipline of dance as it flies into the future while also reflecting the traces of complex and multi-faceted pasts. The event from which the Proceedings emerged attracted roughly 350 artists, teachers, students, and scholars representing over 25 countries. This vibrant group gathered in time together between July 12 and July 17 in New York City and was hosted by WDA-Americas in affiliation with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dance Department and the NYU Steinhardt Dance Education Program. Further, the conference occurred in conjunction with the 2010 annual conference of the Dance Critics Association. Forty sessions of paper presentations and panels were held at NYU's Kimmel Center; seven concert performances, three studio performances, and over twenty-five studio sessions (master classes, workshops, and critics' response panels) occurred further at Dance Theater Workshop. WDA meetings took place at both the Kimmel Center and the Taipei Cultural Center.
The fifteen papers in this 2011 Proceedings, representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States, were selected through a double-blind review process in which over 40 reviewers from all over the world volunteered time and expertise to ensure excellence and clear research standards for all submissions. Further editing refinements by the authors and the editorial team at Texas Woman's University assured that the papers would emerge as reflections of the spirit, quality, and diversity of the World Dance Alliance Global Summit.
Trying to find categories for the papers was very difficult: as in most interesting writing, the topics broke boundaries between disciplines, theories, and practices. However, agreement was reached on the following sub-headings as one possible method for organizing the submissions. Please know that the papers could have been arranged in numerous ways and under numerous headings. If the reader is unable to discover a paper in one sub-heading, please peruse the other 3 areas.
Reviewing how, when, and where we perform/think about dance
Papers in this section question traditional notions of where and when dance is performed, as well as how it is imagined, reformed, and practiced through diverse media, historical performance, and philosophical inquiry. The provocative questions raised open further insights into how dancing bodies are metaphorically viewed, written, and sensed while creating vibrant connections in a complex tapestry of shifting spaces and times. The fours authors in this section weave through these provocations in diverse paths and provide the reader with numerous methods for exploring dance as living, human action and thought.
Ann Dils opens this section with a description of her collaborative project re-making the 1920 Jean Cocteau/Darius Milhaud farce, Le Boeuf sur le Toit (Or the Nothing-Doing Bar), known in English as The Ox on the Roof. She creates a historical context in which Paris's love of and disdain for American culture is embodied. Playing with notions of character “types” and differing audiences' recognition of these popular culture icons, Dils not only brings history to life, she also confuses our notions of past and present, place and space. Within this confusion, the audience experiences history as a new performance space for dance.
Michael Parmenter traces what he terms the “radical interiority” of modernism. He provocatively opens new insights into how this internal vision of the creative act has changed over the century as new conceptions of life and living have emerged from the biological sciences and phenomenological practices. He discusses how contemporary dance practice affirms that “life is fully engaged in negotiating the interface between self and other.” He concludes with exciting possibilities for how the dance practitioner might embody relations between dancers as new ways of knowing the individual.
Cheryl Stock continues this idea of opening notions of human relations through her description of multi-site promenade events in which audience/performer connections, moving together in time and space, produce a “shared narrative and aesthetic sensibility of collective, yet individuated and shifting meanings.” Technologies connecting dancers, audiences, and vast distances (Brisbane, Seoul, and London) are explored through 6 outdoor and 2 indoor Brisbane sites with eleven, predominantly interactive, screens. Audience interviews provide phenomenological insights into the performances.
Maria Adriana Verdaasdonk opens her work with the notion of “poetic felt space” in which organic and sensory connections between performers, projected images, and sonic elements within a performance installation are embodied. Working between Japan and Australia, her spaces create butoh-influenced processes where poetic text fragments and images are used as source material to find dance movement. Underlying this performance is the author's current project investigating the affective potential of “poetic imagery beyond dance creation for performance towards therapeutic and restorative environments.”
Reviewing how we teach and engage with dance
Here, questions raised concerning how we imagine dance happening in the future become even more deeply stimulating as the authors discuss possibilities for dancer and teacher training in twenty-first century performance. Ideas, practices, challenges, and cultural understandings about how dance lives within differing worlds opens more insights into why we dance and who becomes the gatekeeper for our standards of dancing. Aspects of inclusivity, self-motivation, and teacher-student relationships are teased apart and reconnected for viewing from numerous perspectives.
Zihao Li opens the conversation by looking at the use of technology as a means for engaging teaching and learning in several post-secondary institutions in Asia, Europe, and North America. He continues to lay the foundation for his research by exploring with the reader contemporary practices and ideas about technology in dance and general education, specifically within higher education. Li concludes by sharing his own practice integrating technology in a few modern and ballet technique classes posted online in which his students could review and reflect on their daily practice. Student comments provide insights into how they were empowered to create change within their own bodies and practice.
Shelley Padilla in her “The Grilled Cheese Express” discusses how the creation of a collaborative dance video can open inclusive teaching methods within a higher education setting where student dancers come in with diverse interests, training, and goals. Working within an American community college setting, Padilla explores how her goals to celebrate the artistry of diverse student populations also opened up new ideas into how technology can create new performing spaces, places, and standards for assessing excellence. The paper concludes with clear descriptions of the process and the chance happenings that brought the final product to life through student insights and challenges.
Kristin Tovson provides an intriguing look at the contemporary dance program at the Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz in Berlin, Germany. Here, traditional curricular designs for dance education are questioned in terms of student self-motivation and teacher as facilitator and guide. Her cross cultural case study further examines the roots of this particular program in relation to its current goals and practices. Insightful interviews with students and faculty as well as observations of formal evaluations of the program raise interesting issues that will be important to educators re-examining what is valued in future dance practice and the teaching methods needed to support these practices.
Yi-jung Wu and Yu-ting Huang continue the conversation questioning how the teaching of dance is practiced. However, they take it one step further by also exploring how knowledge and strategies of “dance teaching are understood and implemented by dance teachers to-be.” Their paper presents a case study investigating the learning processes of 41 dance students in their internship experiences within elementary and secondary learning institutions in Taipei, Taiwan. Through qualitative research strategies and data analyses, the authors discuss, through wonderfully storied examples, how the practice of teacher education in dance might be re-imagined over time.
Reviewing the politics of dance: Teaching, researching, and the creation of histories
This section is very interesting in the diversity of subjects covered and how those subjects open the discipline of dance into networks of action in terms of teaching, researching, and how dance histories are created, lived, and perpetuated. The term politics was chosen to place the following papers within a broader context of dance as part of organized communities in which methods for sustaining specified values are often contested.
Rima Faber opens this section with a clear summary of the methodologies underlying the development of the National Dance Education Organization's project in which dance research over the past 76-years was collected and catalogued to show themes and interests across various institutions. An outcome of this government-funded project was the Research Priorities for Dance Education: A Report to the Nation. Additionally, the online database, initially called the Research in Dance Education database (RDEdb), is detailed showing its development and use as an index of literature pertaining to the teaching and learning of dance in the United States.
Anadel Lynton then takes the reader through a provocative history of the changing concepts of concert dance in Mexico. By contrasting the lavish entertainment programmed to celebrate the 2010 Bicentennial of the War of Independence (1810-1821) and Centennial of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) with the expectations originally created by these historical events, she opens new possibilities for questioning sanctioned histories in relation to the reality of how the people feel within those histories. Issues of private funding, community action, and art as for and emerging from diverse communities are addressed and vehemently presented.
Lúcia Matos continues the discussion concerning the formation of networks among artists, producers, and dance educators in several Latin American countries, in particular the actions undertaken by social dance networks of the South American Dance Network (Rede Sulamericana de Dança – RSD). By presenting these networks as a catalyst for collaborative and political actions for the development of dance in the region, she gives the reader useful and extremely important methods for developing policies that undergird dance as a major cultural force in art and education. This paper not only provides colorful historical information, but also shares methods for political action.
Nirmala Seshadri leads the reader into a different sense of politics, the politics of gender and gender performed. She questions the patriarchal constructs experienced as an Indian girl growing up in Singapore made to learn Bharatanatyam as a means of maintaining a connection with India. By providing insights into her choreographic process examining issues relevant to her as a modern woman, she brings awareness to the patriarchal nature of Bharatanatyam as a dance form; she breaks the very form she knew, “challenging patriarchy not just through dance, but through change from within the dance form.”
Reviewing the dancing body, lived and living over time
In these three papers the sense, the knowledge, the performance, and the creative wisdom of the body are articulated over time. The differing perspectives offered by each author include: how shifting definitions of the moving body shaped and are shaping practices within dance education; how performance as connected to history and real, lived experiences of the performers creates new reconstructions; and how the spirit and vitality of the creative body moves into the eighth and ninth decades of life. Each topic undergirds the dancer's tacit and sensed knowledge of the body's perceptions to the centrality to living.
Thomas K. Hagood and Mary Alice Brennan trouble easy discourses about the role kinesthetic learning enjoys as a “prominent yet oft broadly interpreted place in the lexicon for dance arts education.” As they move through a historical overview, the authors illuminate the story of the discovery and original description of the biological and physiological structures associated with what was first termed the 'kinaesthetic' sense and provide an overview of the incorporation of the kinesthetic in an early dance education program. Contemporary best practices as kinesthetically informed pedagogies underscore future directions of inquiry and investigation in this continually emergent dimension of body practice.
Nona McCaleb shares the inspiring story of her qualitative research study on creative women in their eighth and ninth decades. Theorizing from numerous academic resources as well as in-depth interview data, McCaleb troubles and disrupts notions of ageism and stereotypical prejudice of helpless decline. Her methodology opens fascinating and vital narratives shared by her research participants about their lives and the power of choices they made and continue to make. The author argues that creative engagement shifts the experience of temporality from a culturally constricted linear trajectory of aging to a space where “expectations expand to imagine temporality in a nonlinear way.”
Cheng Shu-gi presents the body as the foundation for finding performance within stories of human action. To do this, she analyzes how choreographer Helen Lai's 1995 reconstructed The White Snake Variations as a blend of the new and the old, the real and the imagined. Cheng Shu-gi narrates through her own experience as a performer how Lai created a performance and rehearsal process in which the relative distance between the performers' stage life and their real lives opened new insights into the original choreography as well as in the performers' sense of their bodies in performance. Vibrant memories and lived descriptions of performance connect to provide re-visions of the original story.
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