Discussions, Interviews & Lectures Detail
:: Description :: Alan Lomax, Mary Labelle, and Forrestine Paulay discuss the contribution of Ruth St. Denis and other dance phenomena
:: Project :: Cantometrics, Choreometrics, The Urban Strain
:: Date Range :: 06-12-1986 to 06-19-1995
:: Particpants ::
Lomax, Alan
Lobelle, Mary
Paulay, Forrestine
:: Subjects ::
Isadora Duncan's innovations in modern dance
Ruth St. Denis - influence of Asian dance styles on
Dance style - social dance, early twentieth century
Dance style - female contortionist performing for male entertainment
Isadora Duncan's study of classical Greek movement; use of gesture and central body impulse
Dance style - Lindy hop
Ballroom dance, American - influence of European ballet on
Isadora Duncan's vision of femininity - sensuality, the maternal, and idealistic yearning
Dance style - Bebop
Dance style - Bebop Applejack
Mama Lou's Harvest Moon Ball
:: Cultures ::
North American
:: Holdings ::
Media not yet available
:: Notes :: Film clip of Foxy Grandpa dance with buttocks presentation (African influence); and two boys dancing for banjo with upper-thigh movement. Alan Lomax: the collection "Social and Contortion Dances from Rochester" from the turn of the twentieth century is "fascinating." Clips principally show women doing high kicks, raising skirts, showing thighs: exhibiting themselves for male entertainment. The movement is mostly one-unit, linear, jerky - extremely crude. Contortions - women wrapping legs around neck, the apotheosis of the pose. Flexibility not functional, but makes women helpless. Strip dance on a trapeze. Cakewalk - a kind of prance, playful effect, very leggy. Can-can features a cakewalk. Ruth St. Denis has a narrow use of space compared to Isadora Duncan, in the film clip seen here she dances while seated in a chair. She was influenced by Asian dance: peripheral movement a signature of her dance style, with quick three dimensional articulation of the fingers and flex at wrist. Comments on various modern reconstructions by Anabelle Ganson and others of Isadora Duncan's ballets, which probably have more articulation of the body (a modern feature) than the originals did. Themes of power and struggle are featured. Mary Labelle remarks that athleticism is a feature of contemporary dance, which is moving away from the soft and flowing. The importance of costume. The appearance of nudity (body not draped). Denishawn toured vaudeville. Doris Humphrey does use the middle body, but there is nothing sexual in it. Alan Lomax: Idealization of the erotic and glorification of the feminine occurred in the mauve decade. Agnes de Mille takes off from here. "Heaviness" and the Greek ideas of dignity result in a new persona for women who had been the toys of men. Isadora Duncan used gesture growing of a central impulse (in which movement comes out of the central body). Ruth St. Denis also used gestures, but her gestures quoted other cultures and her body was much more held. Isadora looked to the classical past and really studied and learned from Greek statues. Her movements were all curves, her gestures reached out to other people (as we saw Fats Domino doing when he sang), her eyes almost swam with tenderness and her mouth was relaxed. With Duncan femininity is raised to a new level of idealization of the human, encompassing the maternal and the erotic along with an idealistic yearning for a better world. Exhibition ballroom couple dance: a balletic treatment of the Lindy by a group of African couples. There is a striking amount of posing, as women are lifted and held on thighs of their partners. There is successiveness but notably little central body differentiation. There is a central impulse, as the man lifts his partner and holds her. The pelvis is active - not held, but not isolated. The dancers' erect torsos are characteristically European as is their precision of spatial use and stress pattern, and controlled use of force. They are not accelerated in African fashion, but extremely smooth. Role of turning and shifting relationships between couples are typically European. A mix. African features include foot sliding, a playful use of space, and leaps. But there is also a lot of [European-type] foot crossing. The significant African feature that remains is that of change - of the performance of an exciting emotional drama within a small floor space. "Mamalou's Harvest Moon Ball" in color, an exhibition dance with 40 contestants. Variety of limb use, maximally accelerated, maximally varied. "Bebop Lindy Postwar Mood" in black and white. Post synch. Partnering Lindy type. One woman partnered by a series of men who are competing for her. She is erect in posture, with shoulder shaking. The whole dance has jerky angularity. Certain amount of level changing and spinning around. Male dancer does split. Lots of posed arm and posed hand. As we move into the bop period we have European ballroom style with a lot of African characteristics. Bebop Applejack.

 

 

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