Re: essential threads?

kasey rios asberry (
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 17:36:26 -0700 (PDT)

It seems that the reserved word, "dance" is happier as a verb than a noun.

The matrix of interrelationships that hold the mortal, time-based body
at their center are
always at least once removed by attempting to express them through other
media than movement. This induces an awkwardness in communication but is
also -this translation process- a tremndous source of dynamism. If your
discipline is to try move ideas around (rather than make stuff that looks
like art) being uncomfortable is a good sign I think.

kasey asberry

On Sun, 25 Jul 1999, Bud Blumenthal wrote:

> Dear Friends and colleagues,
> This thread concerning the definition of new dance - like forms with
> respect to an absolute definition of the word dance is interesting to say
> the least. For the LIST it has great emotional power for two reasons.
> First, when one's knowledge of meanings of words is challenged, his very
> knowledge of reality is challenged, thus his very perception of existence,
> thus his very conception of his own self - his identity is challenged. We
> have acquired at the very earliest stage of our evolution the instinct for
> fight or flight when faced with perceived threats to our existence so as to
> insure our survival, thus that of our species. While this fore-mentioned
> chain of anxiety applies to anyone (dancer or not) in proportion to their
> own need to understand or to "grasp" their world, it obviously would find
> the most resonance within groups of people who's "lifestyles" or "careers"
> are directly involved with the subject. Therefore, the second reason it has
> emotional power for us, is that the conception of the danger to
> self/species through the challenge to one's knowledge of reality, applies
> with the most force to the subspecies which is dancers and dance makers.
> -- It is they/us who doing the dance of death on the edge of the abyss,
> feel the heat from the intellectual fires stoking the cultural convection
> that pushes awry the tectonic plates of society slowly(?) forming the
> fissures destined to be their/our graves. -- Faced with obliteration,
> dilution or absorption it is understandable even commendable that dance
> practitioners take measures to mount a defense against parasitic concepts.
> In that dance has always been the weakest sister within the stage arts, and
> we the practitioners lead unusually fragile lives compared with those all
> together outside of the arts, parasites must be taken seriously.
> But hold on, there is another reason that these questions of definition
> have emotional force for us here. It concerns not the danger of death, but
> the joyous hope in birth. We are participating in and witnessing the birth
> of a myriad of new forms and processes. Reality is accumulating dimensions
> at an unprecedented rate. We on the dance-tech list are assisting in the
> creation of some of these dimensions. There are those here who are
> pioneering processes and forms that did not exist before they put finger to
> keyboard, camera and computer in front of stage, pickup and midi controller
> to floor and foot. Totally new physical and mental environments are coming
> into being. We are in a palpable genesis. Reality is expanding. This is one
> half of the raison d'etre of the dance-tech list isn't it. Therefore, faced
> with the danger of stillbirth, diminution, marginalization and co-option it
> is understandable even commendable that Tech - dance practitioners take
> measures to mount a defense against parasitic concepts. In that Tech -
> dance is but a newborn within the arts, the practitioners generally lead
> unusually fragile lives compared with those all together outside of the
> arts, parasites must be taken seriously.
> Dance-Tech is a relatively recent fusion isn't it? It is a compound made of
> two of the most different of processes. One is stomping, leaping, wiggling,
> and rolling, while the other is soldering, bolting, calculating and keying.
> Fusing these two processes is not the simplest of tasks. They can be mixed
> so as to form cocktails with varying potentials for color, taste and
> intoxication. This dance-tech cocktail. Should we call it dance or tech?
> Cock or tail? Is this "thing" a dance that serves to send you out of
> yourself or a technology used to re localize your perception? A technology
> to get your spirit high? Or a dance to transport your cognitive process
> vertically?
> Dance and tech are uneasy bedfellows as any dancer who has worked with
> props and gagets knows. The dancer's batteries cannot go on working and
> working like lithium-ion ones, but then they won't quit on you in the
> middle of a performance like the others can. If a dancer injures himself on
> stage, almost invariably he'll finish the performance anyway. If the lamp
> burns out in the video projector, it won't finish the performance but the
> dancers will dance on without it. Technology eats up so many essential
> hours of rehearsal time (and the mental time of the choreographer!) to the
> great frustration of the dancers waiting around. Most dancers don't
> understand electronics or mechanics very well, the understanding of which
> has little to bear upon their primary occupation. A technician constructing
> a motion-sensored interactive sound environment has little interest in
> turnout or in release technique. Often technicians find the inevitable hour
> and a half warm ups of the dancers and subsequent needs for breaks a boring
> loss of time. Why is it so hard to make the choreographer respect the rich
> complexity at hand when things go wrong while at the same time comprehend
> the overall logic of the installation enough to trust it? Why do dancers
> become less and less efficient after seven at night while technicians
> become more and more efficient approaching two in the morning?
> What with the difference between these two worlds so great, it seems
> unnatural that they attract one another as much as they do. It is
> indicative of the openness of spirit that characterize the practitioners of
> these two arts that they have sought out the other and attempted to mate.
> What connects these two forces is each one's nature to invent and the space
> for this in a collaborative work. Invention is possible through the
> opportunities that the difference in the other offers. Thus dance puts up
> with tech which puts up with dance so that the dance-tech child can be
> invented. It is this shared need to participate in invention or "creation"
> that delicately reunites these two skittish movements. Opposites attract.
> But not without difficulty. Push pull embrace push....
> Dance - Tech forms a visage. A face with two differing sides to it. Like
> Eros and Thanatos becomes Janus, dance and tech become......???? Whatever
> word or words we come up with it becomes something other than the two
> constituent words. Like a horse and a donkey become a mule, man and wolf
> become werewolf. Or should I say poet and mad scientist become Hyde.
> Anyway, anyone would agree that Mr. Hyde was far more interesting than Dr.
> Jeykel.
> It seems to me that the dance - tech list is a natural arena for the two
> sides of this new face to hash out some of these philosophical issues. The
> process has started. The game is on. I propose that we continue to debate
> these important questions and work together to invent new labels that
> describe our work more accurately and potently. Terms collectively coined
> in such an informed, concerned and representative environment which is the
> dance-tech list, are likely to benefit from their attentively engineered
> inception so as to meet with a prosperous future.
> Bud Blumenthal
> Cie Tandem asbl
> 58 rue de la Lys
> 1080 Brussels, Belgium
> T: 32 / 2 / 425 89 37
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