Module III - Social Dancing and Cultural Identity - Webpages at SCU

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					    AADH Day 17 – “What is Black Dance?”
             and Bill T. Jones
•   “What is Black Dance?”

•   Bill T. Jones

•   Fish Story

•   Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land
       Intro - Labels in dance – Background

•   Labels serve a purpose – to market dance

•   To defining and position an artist

•   Historical or and cultural context

•   Postmodern, new dance, avant-garde

•   Audience not always aware of the entire history
                          Postmodern era

•   Grew out of 60s, Cmerce Cunningham and Judson Church

•   Rebellion against classical modern dance of Graham, Humphrey,
    Limon,

•   Sixties about experimentation, black power movement -civil rights

•   Dancers seeking balance between the narrative and pure movement
                     Postmodern Aesthetics

•   Assemblages of period or theatrical reference - comment on the
    present. Historically aware.

•   Second wave of postmoderns - people like Bill T. Jones, Ralph Lemon

•   Return to "theatrical and virtuosic performance.

•   Perform personal intimate
                                  Labels

•   Postmodern - separation from audience as necessary for performance
    event

•   Black artists desire to foster communication form and function united

•   New dance - political and social activism

•   90’s popular terms - multicultural and diversity
                   What is Black Dance?

•   Who defines the answer.

•   Term – black dance, obscure meaning – yet loaded with power

•   Echoes the question from 1930’s – “What shall the Negro Dance
    about?”
                    What is Black Dance?

     Funding entities – for black dance – labels pigeon holes companies

•   Critics – lump choreographers together

•   Who does this term refer to?

•   Black Dance – a label critics use to summarize a richly diverse body of
    work
                    What is Black Dance?

•   Responses to the Term

•   Insistence for the freedom to define culture on their own terms,
    likewise for their creative work.

•   Black choreographers feel their work is about life informed by their
    lives. Artists who happen to be black,
                     What is Black Dance?

•   Lumping all Af- Am dance forms separates and diminishes their
    diversity

•   Issue now is artistic freedom “Cultural imperialism vs. cultural self-
    determination.”

•   A misconception – that ethnicity predetermines culture

•   Dialogue needed on this issue
                     What is Black Dance?

•   How does this relate to identity.

•   What examples have we seen so far?

•   Whose perspective is being presented?

•   Bill T. Jones - What does black mean in western culture context?
                    Focus on Bill T. Jones

•   Biography to Autobiographical material in dance

•   Born 1952 – tenth of twelve children

•   Grew up in upstate New York

•   Informed his understanding and confusion about race
                Aesthetic Choices - Methods

•   Talking in dance – postmodern aesthetic – telling his story

•   Formalism – pure gesture and line, recall opening day poem

•   Personal emotion – dares to show anger, express love

•   Pedestrian – blends technique with simplicity

•   Improvisation as a creative process

•   Contact Improvisation – especially in early duets with Arnie Zane
Focus on Bill T. Jones - Issues of Identity
            Life and Art - blur the boundaries

•   Arnie Zane – lover and collaborator

•   Their duets exposed their relationship

•   Continent of two

•   Politics – personal, class and race – they drew directly on their own
    lives to understand their identity
Life and Art - blur the boundaries
            Arnie Zane died in 1988 of AIDS

•   Fish Story – an earlier dance that explores death

•   Performed in 1980 in the context of Jones great loss of Zane.

•   Aesthetic choices, fractured language and dance blur, have to read
    both texts
Arnie Zane died in 1988 of AIDS
 Fish Story - 1990 Performance
                            Other Dances

•   Untitled – expresses anger

•   Etude – pure design in space
Untitled
Etude
          Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
                Promised Land (1990)

•   About faith, History, Anger and Seeking Common Ground

•   Identity – who are we first, second and third.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
          Bill T. Jones - Last Night of Earth

•   What does he say about history?

•   History has rules, one: identity forged by violence and deprivation will
    manifest violence and deprivation

•   Such rules must be broken, a conscious effort

•   Black people’s experience has helped to educate the human heart

•   History is a mirror in which to see himself
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
        How do you respond to his historical
                    account?
•   More and more personal- history ultimately is what happens to you

•   What you do or do not do
            Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin

•   Uncle Tom’s Cabin – sketch of the story

•   Entre act Faith - on stage interview with a priest or rabbi on issues of
    faith

•   This follows Bill T. Jones dancing to the reading of Job,

•   Jones own tragic loss of his partner parallels Job’s loss

•   Yet Jones does not regain all back in the end through faith
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
           Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin

•   Was to acknowledge his division from his mother’s faith

•   Sixties naivete to go beyond anger, beyond division

•   With an African-American voice speak to a diverse audience,

•   Speak about being human, our lives, our dreams
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
                  Four - The Promised Land

•   King’s speech backwards as an argument

•   Dance develops abstractly - people gradually disrobing

•   First Arthur Aviles has appeared alone as nude - by end everyone is.

•   Community and personal gutsiness to confront self-willing to expose
    self and join in community
Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The
      Promised Land (1990)
                    Jones’ goal for LSUTC

•   Wanted to disavow an identity as a dying outcast,

•   Affirm our commonality through the body, “we are not afraid”

•   His company reflects the diversity of the audience he hopes to speak
    to, drew on real life identities of his cast
                     Jones goals for LSUTC

•   Work addresses the disorientation, that he feels around issues of
    power, sex, race, religion, and art

•   Desire to blend political, social, spiritual issues with narrative and
    movement
                     Jones goals for LSUTC

•   Work addresses the disorientation, that he feels around issues of
    power, sex, race, religion, and art

•   Desire to blend political, social, spiritual issues with narrative and
    movement

				
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