DANCE DANCE Chapter 10 The Humanities

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           Chapter 10
  The Humanities through the Arts
F. David Martin and Lee A. Jacobus
          Dance is rhythmic
• Dance – moving bodies shaping space-
  shares common ground with kinetic
• In abstract dance the center of interest is
  upon visual patterns, and there is common
  ground with abstract painting.
• Dance has common ground with drama,
     Subject Matter of Dance
• At its most basic level the subject matter of
  dance is abstract motion.
• The medium of the dance is the human
  body whose movements produce
  sympathetic “movements” in the audience.
      Subject Matter of Dance
• Our instinctive ability to identify with other
  human bodies is so strong that the
  perception of feelings exhibited by the
  dancer often evokes something of those
  feelings in ourselves.
• The choreographer, creator of the dance,
  interprets those feelings.
     Subject Matter of Dance
• If we participate, we may understand
  those feelings and ourselves with greater
• State of mind are a further dimension that
  may be the subject matter of dance.
• Feelings, of pleasure and pain are
  relatively transient, but state of mind
  involve attitudes, tendencies that
  engender certain feelings.
• The subject matter of dance can be
  moving visual patterns, feelings, states of
  mind, narrative, or various combinations of

• The form of the dance – its details and
  structure – gives us insight into the subject
          Dance and Ritual
• Since the only requirement for dance is a
  body in motion and since all cultures have
  this basic requirement,
• Dance probably precedes all other arts.
• In this sense dance comes first.
           Dance and Ritual
• And when it comes first, it is usually
  connected to a ritual that demands careful
  execution of movements in precise ways
  to achieve a precise goal.
• A favorite shape for the dance is that of
  the spiral nautilus, so often seen in shells,
  plants, and insects:
           INDIAN DANCE
• Some of the most complex and exquisite
  dances performed in the world originated
  in India.
• Like ballet dancers, Indian dancers follow
  set movements, with complex finger and
  hand movements, all have significance.
• There are 28 hand gestures called mudras
  and the can be combined to produce 800
  distinctive meanings.
• The pattern of the dance is not circular but
  a modified spiral.
• The properly costumed dancers form a
  line, led by a priest; who spreads cornmeal
  on the ground symbolizing his wish for
  fertility of the ground.
• The gestures of the dancers, like the
  gestures in most rituals, have definite
  meanings and functions.
           SOCIAL DANCE
• Social dance is not theatrical or artistic, as
  are ballet and modern dance.
• Folk and court dances are done simply for
  the pleasure of the dance.
• Social dance is not dominated by religious
  or practical purposes
• Although it may serve as meeting people
  or working off excess energy.
• Country dance is a species of folk dance
  that has traces of ancient origins
• Because country people tended to perform
  dances in specific relationship to special
  periods in the agricultural year,
• Such as planting and harvesting.
• Folk dances are the dances of the people
  whether ethnic or regional in origin they
  are often very carefully preserved.
• The court dances of the Middle Ages and
  Renaissance developed into more stylized
  and less openly energetic modes than the
  folk dance
• For the court dance was performed by a
  different sort of person and served a
  different purpose.
• Participating in court dances signified high
  social status.
• The origins of ballet usually are traced to
  the early 17th century when dancers
  performed interludes between scenes of
  an opera.
• Today there is a vocabulary of movements
  that all ballet dancers must learn
• Since these movements constitute the
  fundamental elements of every ballet.
• They are as important as the keys and
  scales in music,
• The vocabulary of tones constantly
  employed in most musical composition
  shows a number of the more important
  ballet positions.
             SWAN LAKE
• One of the most popular ballets of all times
  is Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake composed
  from 1871 to 1877 and first performed in
  1894 and 1895 (complete).
           MODERN DANCE
• The origins of modern dance are usually traced
  to the American dancers Isadora Duncan and
  Ruth St. Denis.
• They rebelled against the stylization of ballet,
  with ballerinas dancing on their toes and
  executing the same basic movements in every
• Duncan insisted on natural movement, often
  dancing in bare feet that showed her body and
  legs in motion.
• The developers of modern dance who
  followed Duncan built on her legacy.
• In her insistence on freedom with respect
  to clothes and conventions, she infused
  energy into the dance that no one had
  ever seen before.
• Her movements tended to be ongoing and
  rarely can to a complete rest.
• One of the classics of modern dance is
  Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, based largely on
  African American spirituals and
• Some of the success of Revelations stems
  from Ailey’s choice of the deeply felt music
  of the spirituals to which the dancers’
  movements are closely attuned.
• Music, unless it is program music, is not,
  strictly speaking a pretext for a dance, but
  there is a perceptible connection between,
• the rhythmic characteristics of a given
  music and a dance composed in such a
  way as to take advantage of those

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