advice threading

Scott deLahunta (
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 08:56:21 +0100

Doug Rosenberg mentioned Rose Lee Goldberg --

Rose Lee Goldberg has written another book on performance art -- and the
publisher (Thames and Hudson) is launching the book in London this Friday
on 23 October. The title is *Performance: Live Art Since the 60s*, her
earlier book was titled *Performance art: From Futurism to the Present*.
Such an event draws quite a lot of significance given the 'seminality' of
her first one and the fact that the first proceeded from a pre-war point of
origin. This one originates in that most radically anti-war of times, and
Rose Lee has managed now to cover 'our' century.

In a society which increasingly relishes the notion (or fears the 'fact')
that all national and geographic borders are eliminated by the web and the
satellites which are weaving a celestial covering around us... borders and
boundaries are defined more by something like our mailing list. We come
together and form a 'community' around a common idea -- instead of sharing
backyards, we share abstract thought. This is standard web gabbing -- most
of us have either said or heard this sort of thing so often we are a bit
tired of it.

However, I became refascinated by this notion of borders as defined by
abstract ideas looking through Goldberg's new book. The first thing I
wanted to know is what categories she would choose and which artists to
include in them. What sort of taxonomy would she practice? Here are the
chapter headings:

Chapter 1: performance, politics, real life
Chapter 2: theater, music, opera
Chapter 3: the body: ritual, living sculpture, performed photography
Chapter 4: identities: feminism, multiculturalism, sexuality
Chapter 5: dance
Chapter 6: video, rock 'n' roll, the spoken word

In the back there is a Chronology of selected events of the included
artists starting in 1960. This is followed by several pages of short artist
biographies -- beginning with Rezah Abdoh and finishing with Marian
Zazeela. Approximately 220 artists or artist groups are included in the
book. It's also being published as a huge, gorgeous coffee table topper --
tonnes of colour photographs.

There will be a 'lot' of talk about this book once it gets around. The
status of 'performance' as all inclusive, the emphasis on 'live', the
inclusion of only two 'isms' in the Chapter listing, etc. Maybe you think
this is not so significant, but I would argue that it is -- and especially
for dance. We legitimize via recognition and niching or individualizing. We
cannot turn our art to take advantage of massification processes... in the
way that a visual or communication artist can for example (arguments please).

Where do we find a valuation for dance which counts today? I'm convinced we
can. Personally, I am quite 'happy' to see that DANCE has its own chapter
in Rose Lee's book which gives some support to the proselytizing I've been
doing of late.


A few weeks ago I posted regarding my current research work which I am
conducting at the Laban Centre London. I've been here now for 8 days
researching the state of digital media and info/ com technologies in
relationship to the educational program... and I am in some shock. The lack
of resources is absolutely immense, practically inconceivable for anyone at
a university in the USA. From what I can see, I don't think the state of
the British economy is in any condition to recover sufficiently so that we
can expect a 'brighter' future here either in terms of receiving base
funding of any kind for example. Only the most proactive, creative and
forward looking efforts, collaborations and investments will bring change
-- and I am not sure given the current state of affairs and the various
structures (policy, management, curricula, resource, etc.) of the Laban
Centre that this will be possible.

Students and faculty have no access to the internet, there is one computer
with Lifeforms and Labanwriter on it, one with Calaban. Calaban is another
laban notation software written for the PC by Andy Adamson at the
University of Birmingham -- the reason the Centre bought it was that they
had some money about 6 years ago and decided to 'invest' in something that
would run on the PC. Made sense at the time. Later they bought the MAC.
Apparently there is an upgrade by Adamson which is too expensive to
purchase at this time. There are some computers which are used in lighting
design running a old piece of software written locally which also can't be
upgraded because purchasing the newer versions would require the latest
Autocad (just too expensive). There are no LCD projectors, really no video
editing equipment to speak of at all (analog or otherwise)... I haven't had
time to check out the state of affairs in the sound studio.

But this is not to say there is no lack of desire or interest from the
faculty and students... there are PhD and MA students who are keen on the
possibility of producing their dissertations and theses in a multimedia
format, there are teachers and students of dance therapy interested in the
latest possible applications of digital technology. There is a dance
education program, dance in the community, performance and choreographer
training -- and teachers and students in all of these who are imagining
applications for digi-tech. But without the means for realising them ---
nor even how to begin taking the necessary steps. Interestingly, there is
also a very rigorous academic approach practiced here -- the PhD and MA
products are certified by City University... so they are absolutely up to
standard. This opens up the possibility that here critical thinking and
reflection on new technologies and dance can be part of an integrated
approach. It is this 'integrated' approach which I am lining my sights up on.

.... I'm just giving you a quick and incomplete glimpse of the picture
which is starting to come together for me. I'm overwhelmed -- but still
excited by the challenge, which is to help them continue to be players in
the 'future of dance'. While new technologies are by far not the only thing
going on in the future of dance -- for Laban and other dance education
institutes there is required a strong policy of understanding and
appropriate implementation as regards them.

However, last night I went to see a short showing of work by Fin Walker,
London based dancer and choreographer. Very nice work and decidely
non-technology orientated -- in the explicit sense anyway. I was greatly
relieved to have the opportunity to sit and watch dancing bodies (highly
skilled), intelligent/ sophisticated choreography, physicality, movement,
pure movement, simple costumes, subtle lighting, etc. Before these last
several days at Laban, my interest in 'dance and technology' was well
integrated into an overall relationship to the field, but here I am really
the only digital tech and dance person of the moment (following in Sarah
Rubidge's footsteps) -- no other sorts of discussions for me are taking
place, and I tire already of hearing myself talking about new choreographic
metaphors and sensor environments, motion capture, etc. We will see what
emerges. I'll try to keep posting... and thanks to those who responded in
some detail a few weeks ago. On Tues, 3 November, we will be having a
discussion at the Digital Dancing event (2.30 I believe at the Jerwood
Studios, S. London) on the place for new tech in dance education in the UK.
I'm looking forward to it and will be referring to your comments.


Scott deLahunta's
Temporary Address: 7 Oct. - 11 Nov. 1998
Care Of: Laban Centre London, Laurie Grove
New Cross, London SE14 6NH, UK
tel: +44 (0)181 692 4070 / fax: +44 (0)181 694 8749
Writing Research Associates, NL
Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
tel: +31 (0)20 662 1736 / fax: +31 (0)20 470 1558