DANCE Chapter 10 The Humanities through the Arts F. David Martin and Lee A. Jacobus
Dance is rhythmic • Dance – moving bodies shaping space- shares common ground with kinetic sculpture. • In abstract dance the center of interest is upon visual patterns, and there is common ground with abstract painting. • Dance has common ground with drama, music.
Subject Matter of Dance • At its most basic level the subject matter of dance is abstract motion. • The medium of the dance is the human body whose movements produce sympathetic “movements” in the audience.
Subject Matter of Dance • Our instinctive ability to identify with other human bodies is so strong that the perception of feelings exhibited by the dancer often evokes something of those feelings in ourselves. • The choreographer, creator of the dance, interprets those feelings.
Subject Matter of Dance • If we participate, we may understand those feelings and ourselves with greater insight. • State of mind are a further dimension that may be the subject matter of dance. • Feelings, of pleasure and pain are relatively transient, but state of mind involve attitudes, tendencies that engender certain feelings.
Form • The subject matter of dance can be moving visual patterns, feelings, states of mind, narrative, or various combinations of these. • The form of the dance – its details and structure – gives us insight into the subject matter.
Dance and Ritual • Since the only requirement for dance is a body in motion and since all cultures have this basic requirement, • Dance probably precedes all other arts. • In this sense dance comes first.
Dance and Ritual • And when it comes first, it is usually connected to a ritual that demands careful execution of movements in precise ways to achieve a precise goal. • A favorite shape for the dance is that of the spiral nautilus, so often seen in shells, plants, and insects:
INDIAN DANCE • Some of the most complex and exquisite dances performed in the world originated in India. • Like ballet dancers, Indian dancers follow set movements, with complex finger and hand movements, all have significance. • There are 28 hand gestures called mudras and the can be combined to produce 800 distinctive meanings.
THE ZUNI RAIN DANCE • The pattern of the dance is not circular but a modified spiral. • The properly costumed dancers form a line, led by a priest; who spreads cornmeal on the ground symbolizing his wish for fertility of the ground. • The gestures of the dancers, like the gestures in most rituals, have definite meanings and functions.
SOCIAL DANCE • Social dance is not theatrical or artistic, as are ballet and modern dance. • Folk and court dances are done simply for the pleasure of the dance. • Social dance is not dominated by religious or practical purposes • Although it may serve as meeting people or working off excess energy.
COUNTRY AND FOLK DANCE • Country dance is a species of folk dance that has traces of ancient origins • Because country people tended to perform dances in specific relationship to special periods in the agricultural year, • Such as planting and harvesting. • Folk dances are the dances of the people whether ethnic or regional in origin they are often very carefully preserved.
THE COURT DANCE • The court dances of the Middle Ages and Renaissance developed into more stylized and less openly energetic modes than the folk dance • For the court dance was performed by a different sort of person and served a different purpose. • Participating in court dances signified high social status.
BALLET • The origins of ballet usually are traced to the early 17th century when dancers performed interludes between scenes of an opera. • Today there is a vocabulary of movements that all ballet dancers must learn • Since these movements constitute the fundamental elements of every ballet.
BALLET • They are as important as the keys and scales in music, • The vocabulary of tones constantly employed in most musical composition shows a number of the more important ballet positions.
SWAN LAKE • One of the most popular ballets of all times is Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake composed from 1871 to 1877 and first performed in 1894 and 1895 (complete).
MODERN DANCE • The origins of modern dance are usually traced to the American dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis. • They rebelled against the stylization of ballet, with ballerinas dancing on their toes and executing the same basic movements in every performance. • Duncan insisted on natural movement, often dancing in bare feet that showed her body and legs in motion.
MODERN DANCE • The developers of modern dance who followed Duncan built on her legacy. • In her insistence on freedom with respect to clothes and conventions, she infused energy into the dance that no one had ever seen before. • Her movements tended to be ongoing and rarely can to a complete rest.
ALVIN AILEY’S REVELATIONS • One of the classics of modern dance is Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, based largely on African American spirituals and experience. • Some of the success of Revelations stems from Ailey’s choice of the deeply felt music of the spirituals to which the dancers’ movements are closely attuned.
ALVIN AILEY’S REVELATIONS • Music, unless it is program music, is not, strictly speaking a pretext for a dance, but there is a perceptible connection between, • the rhythmic characteristics of a given music and a dance composed in such a way as to take advantage of those characteristics.