Re: New web dance (rant, sorry)

Jeffrey Gray Miller (
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 15:05:45 -0500

Wow, I've been moving for 3 days, leave my email, and suddenly things get
nasty...or at least, a bit more intense. I'm concerned by the hostility
towards "allowing" a new form of artistic expression into the genre of
"dance". What else would you call it? Video? No, it's on the computer.
Animation? Maybe...but since that's a very general term, you'd have to
narrow it down to "animated dance" or "dance animation", and we're back to
the original problem.

There was a recent argument amongst the students at the UW's InterArts
Technology program about the placement of the program within the Dance
Department. Several of the students saw themselves as primarily musicians;
some as primarily visual artists; a few, as dancers who used technology.
The problem there, as in this discussion, is the question of where to put
this art form if not dance? There is, I feel, no other form of artistic
expression which incorporates so many of the others--the visual, the
acoustic, the use of time-based performance--and so for an interdisciplinary
program, I argued that the dance department was the logical home.

They didn't agree with me, either.

I understand the argument/fear that works such as Richard's and my own may
interfere with funding for other works--but I don't agree with it. I heard
the same argument 20 years ago when synthesizers came out, spelling the end
of acoustic music and live musicians. Except it didn't happen. What did
happen was that companies and corporations that hadn't had anything to do
with the arts suddenly found a new market for their tools and services, and
began investing in it. That's why, at the Guinness Fleadh festival, which
had 18 hours and 4 stages worth of bands ranging from solo fiddlers to Van
Morrison, one of the biggest sponsors was Roland and VH1. They didn't
compete, they complemented, and through their sponsorship they provided a
venue for the public to see some Celtic bands that normally don't see those
kinds of crowds. It seems more likely to me that if someone comes across
Richard's web dance and appreciates it, they will be more willing to attend
and appreciate live dance. And corporations that perhaps don't normally
sponsor dance--for example, Apple, or Real Networks--might give a little
more attention to the arts. I very seriously doubt that anyone who is
interested in funding "live" dance would withhold it in favor of an
electronic medium.

Of course, I could be wrong. I'm sure the balletomanes mourn the advent of
modern dance, and the loss of their monopoly on the concert venue. But I
also know of quite a few dancers who perform solely for video works and
commercials--and I'm not about to tell them that because they only have a
camera on at the moment of performance, it isn't dance. Nor would I tell
Merce that he can't call himself a choreographer on that CDROM, because they
weren't really dancing, see.

There is room for us all here.