Re: language/ dance

David Rodger (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 19:25:51 +0100

>We have a small thread going on what comprises 'language' in relationship to
>dance. A wonderfully and endlessly debatable topic

And one which is clouded, I think, by the continued use of the term
"language". Your own usage of "idiom" (below) is more suitable.

>1) dance is it's
>own idiom for describing motion, and 2) notation as a way of describing
>motion/ movement ... so I just thought of this quick list of phrases
>relating dancing and language in a variety of ways. Generally I see
>speaking, moving, writing, reading, listening, understanding, remembering,
>communicating and dancing all as part of the same project.

Well, all of those, except communicating, might be seen as parts of the
general project of "communication", except that some of them can be
performed without the intent to communicate.

However, within
>that project we can and should define and follow different lines of thinking
>which progress and develop through willful differentiation. Otherwise, we
>will not know that of which we 'speak'... whether through the body, with the
>body or via some other means... like 'tech'...

Hmm. I can't see movement as a mode of communication equivalent to speech,
which I think you concede by the use of quote marks. But the idea of
speaking 'through the body' is, perhaps, indicative of a belief in
equivalence between speech and dance which seems quite prevalent.

Speech allows communication of ideas using a well-established symbolic
system forming complexes whose meanings are generally agreed upon. One
might disagree about the meaning 'behind' words, but their explicit meaning
as individual and differentiable concepts remains. No such condition
obtains for dance (or music or painting or other non-literal art form, for
that matter).

>1. Dance is a non-verbal artform
>2. Before the word there was nothing
>3. Movement speaks for itself

But what does it say? I rahter think that if dance speaks anything, it
speaks itself and not _for_ anything in particular.

>4. Writing on the body, writing with the body

Writing what? Where is the trace of that? And can such a trace make
explicit reference, as writing of spoken language can?

With regard to the rest, I find such statements prone to promoting
obfuscation over clarity. So I was pleased to read...

>As a dancemaker, I tend towards no. 3 -- keeps things simple...

...except that I don't consider expressivity in dance (or other art forms)
to be equivalent to explicit meaning inherent in speech. (BTW, I don't
think you do either, Scott. But until I know what you mean by #3, it's
hard to tell.)

Regards, David

David Rodger, "I'd bet for techno music you
Audio Engineer: could get pretty good lossless
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Lifeguard and Lifeguard Trainer is based on repeated data."
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