Re: New web dance

Bud Blumenthal (
Wed, 21 Jul 1999 00:28:38 +0200

<x-rich>>All quoted text from Richard Lord:

>Any dance on video is pixels lighting up a screen. Does this mean none

>them are dance?

Yes those pixels are not dance. They are pixels helping to make up a
video image of a dance.

Is the video image of dance dance? No.This is a video of a dance. Or it
is video-dance or computer dance. Subsets of the big "D". The big "D"
that originated in the hormones, imaginations and sinews of our distant
ancestors, formed into rituals for a few tens of thousands of years and
transformed into altogether different sorts of rituals by us today.
The common link is the hormones, imaginations and sinews.

>Your logic is way off. Because A is dance, B is not dance is a failure

>logic and language - a word can embrace two things. Or do you think

>be correct to say "Balanchine is dance, therefore Cunningham is not

>dance" or (for the vegetarians) "carrots are food therefore steak is


You are right to correct my faulty logic Richard. That eMail escaped at
three in the morning before redrafting to my embarassment. But my idea
was to emphasize the distinctions between the two activities which are
so very far away one from the one other. Balanchine and Cunningham had
different "styles" of dance. They both danced. However if Cunningham
makes a CDROM it is not a dance, just as if he paints a painting it is
not a dance. Even if its a picture of a dance!

>BTW, Pregressive 2, one of my web dances, involved a number of

>collaborators, a personal investment of about $4000 even though noone

>involved was paid, and took many months to complete. It also took many

>years to acquire the skills to create this and the other web dances.

>Don't belittle it.

I do not mean to belittle it. I enjoyed it very much in fact. The
question now is does calling it dance belittle my dance? You know the
other day I saw a "GameBoy" on a coffee table. While it is of the same
genre as your net experiments I couldn't bring myself to call it dance.

>So don't call your work dance. If you want accurate descriptions,

>"Live people performing choreographed sequences of movement on a stage

>and accompanied by music" would describe your work. I don't know

>all you've described it as so far is "dance". Dance is not a precise

>word, it is an artform which encompasses many different styles and is

>growing to encompass many different media. Theatres, site specific

>nightclubs & discos, carnivals, film, video, and now CD-ROM and the

>to name but a few. The word doesn't define the medium or the message,

>just the artform used. If you call your work dance, I have no real

>concept of what it is you do. Even if you called it "live theatre

>I'd have few clues. The diversity of dance is broad and deep. Live


My work falls into the category of "Contemporary Dance". This is
perhaps more of a European apellation for the moment but getting
generalized. In the USA, "Modern Dance" is still used quite a lot and
many people don't even use the word dance but insist on "Performance

This summer I'm mixing Hip Hop (breakdance) with Contemporary Dance.
These are "styles" of dance, read - DANCE as in
<underline>people</underline> dancing. Were I to mix media with my
dance as I did in the last piece which had a video décor, it would
still be dance just as long as there were dancers dancing - I mean
people dancers here. Flesh and blood. Not virtual flesh or virtual
blood. If I use CD ROMs in a dance with real dancers it is still dance.
If I put images of dancers dancing (or other pixel clots) on a CD ROM
it isn't dance. Just as if the dance represented on the CD ROM were on
film or video or the Net or in a book or a cave painting for that
matter, it would not be a dance in and of itself.

We might not go to the trouble of saying "let's watch the film of the
dance of "The Rite of Spring" by Pina Bausch, but that's what we mean
when we say let's watch Pina's "Rite of Spring". It's obvious we're
watching a film of the dance and not the dance itself. You want us to
confuse the reality of an object with its symbol. This is either a
mistake coming from these confusing times or a dangerous conscious
trend. Either way I don't accept it and will do my best
<underline>not</underline> "to live with it".

Remy Charlip made "The Airmail Dances" many years ago. The company that
"commissioned" or accepted to perform them received the directions for
the choreography in the form of photocopies of drawings and text. They
then put into action these directions and the Dance was born. No the
dance was not the airmailed photocopies. Yes the dance was the wiggling
bodies on stage. These photocopies (and the post office) were
instrumental in getting them wiggling.

While the "Theatres, site specific work, nightclubs & discos,
carnivals," can be places where dance happens, "film, video, and now
CD-ROM and the Web,

to name but a few" are not. That is until the day that we can find a
way to fit human bodies on/into them.

Bud Blumenthal

Cie Tandem asbl

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1080 Brussels, Belgium

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