Re: undemanding, unambitious, uninformed and uninspired

mary-lou (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 13:15:33 -1850

Jeff Miller wrote:
> I have a question for the dance-historians among us:
> Is there a record of the ways in which dance changed (if any) with the advent
> of electrical lighting? Aside from time of performance, that is--did the
> ability to have, for example, a spotlight focusing attention, or the upstage
> area well-lit change the way choreographers made dances? I've had a bit of
> theory in the dramatic theatre on this subject, but dance wasn't addressed...
I think Iris answered this well... but I wanted to add a bit off the top
of my head about Alwin Nikolais... In his time he was considered a
"Multimedia artist". There was a short footage of his work in the TV
series "Dance of the Century" has anyone seen it? Anyway, he talked
about abstract lighting, and how he wanted to strip the stage of natural
light, he used lighting from the side and coloured deckled light from
above, he used set pieces that reflected light. His dance reflected this
abstraction, in that he wanted to move away from the then traditional
"boy meets girl" narrative, to something more abstract, where the body
was an object in time and space.
I think artists working with new technologies today, tend to opt for
abstract themes... and yet perhaps as we have seen with stage lighting
in history, this will change. So perhaps as artists become more familiar
with technology and it is beyond the point of justification, or a
"threat"... they will begin to use technology in more diverse ways. This
goes back to my theory about "play". Creativity begins from here...
> Part of my frustration with this thread is the lack of acknowledgement of the
> amount of technology used in "non-tech" dance. Source 4's, lighting boards,
> compact disc players, portable stereos, all are accepted as tools of the
> trade...but suddenly the video camera and the projector and the computer is
> seen as a threat. To me, saying that a dance for the camera isn't dance is
> akin to saying that a CD of Mozart's Requiem isn't music. It's different in
> terms of convenience, and yes, sometimes in terms of quality.
Yes.. I is fascinating to see similar arguments reoccur.