Discussions, Interviews & Lectures Detail
:: Description :: Alan Lomax and Forrestine Paulay on Dance and Human History
:: Project :: Cantometrics, Choreometrics
:: Date Range :: 09-17-1992 to 09-17-1992
:: Particpants ::
Lomax, Alan
Paulay, Forrestine
Del Rio, Michael
Kaye, Andrew
:: Subjects ::
Dance style - European
Dance style - Andalusian
Dance style - Eurasian, use of space in
Turns in dance - Choreometrics variable
Dance style - Malaysian
Dance style - Malaysian, oblique entrance in
Feet, use of in dance
Role of audience in dance - seated versus standing
Stamping - Choreometrics variable
Foot Crossing in dance - Choreometrics
High energy in dance
Step Width - Choreometrics variable
Fiji war dance
Feet in dance and closeness to the earth
Dance style - African rhythm and spaces between the beat
Moving Synchrony, presence or absence of in dance
Posed Pynchrony, presence or absence of in dance
Moving body parts, number of - Choreometrics variable
Torso Incline - Choreometrics variable
Levels in dance - use of
Bounce in dance
Dance style - Jigging
Lowering and Dipping in dance
Palm Presentation in dance
Unison Movement, African and European compared - Choreometrics factors
Stance - Choreometrics variable
Fred Astaire's dance style - influence of black movement style
:: Cultures ::
East Asia
US pop
Fiji Islands
:: Holdings ::
Media not yet available
:: Notes :: T5517: Lomax and Paulay comment on dance film footage. Michael Del Rio and Andy Kaye heard briefly in these sessions. Fred Astaire combined European step and ballet (some posing of the arms, turning, and crossing the midline) with African influences (sliding, wide steps, playful attack, variation, semi-bent position at times). Alan Lomax: African dance more bent over, Fred tends to be up in the air. African and European unison dancing compared. Africans fluid looking in a group; in ballet emphasis is on holding an erect position. East Asian style characterized by very controlled precision, using three dimensional space, a sustained slow pace, and a high degree of successiveness with an independent focus on feet and toes. Feet independent from legs, arms do another whole gesture. Rice planting film footage shows a similar sustained, slow pace, with little flicking peripheral gestures. Work rhythm same as rhythm of the dance. In Europe, a village is a social center for an assembly of peers, where everyone owns houses and can sing ballads; in China, a village is an assembly of subordinates. Southern Europe versus northern Europe (cloggers). Andalusian dancer characterized by high acceleration, posing. Cloggers' arms relaxed, casual appearance. Both would be coded erect, but Latin dance features extreme emphsis on erect stance and more tension in the body, also continuous turns, large movements, and complementarity between men and women. Fred Astaire has neither the steady intensity of Andalusian dance style nor the intelligent moderation of English clogging. In European dancing (including Astaire), feet define the territory. Fred glides across the floor with the longitudinal foot movement of ballet, as well as going down (a bit of African). Alan Lomax: More like telling a story. Forrestine Paulay: Tremendous variation. Turns cover space - not turning in place as in Andalusia. Astaire has palm presentation. Cloggers' palms are neutral. Alan Lomax: He is carrying a stick like a West African dancer carrying a baton. Eurasian dance is a precise way of using whole body in complex movement in space. Millions come out to watch formation of bodies in European sports. In Western Europe there is simultaneous movement, not spiraling. Life-or-death importance of timing in the toreador?s pirouettes. They watch footage of a Polish couple plowing, the man holding the plow, the woman the reins of the horse. "A beautiful example of complimentarity, control of the animal, and maximal use of the land." Remarks on Hungarian footwork, women showing beautiful, hand-made petticoats. Greek dancing and clogging have a bounce. Venezuelan Creole is an African re-stepping of European patterns. Its playful changes of speed, steps high up off the ground, and elastic arm movement are very African, though the clothing is European. Posture less erect than the European norm. Woman quite aggressive and aloof, stick in hand. Malay group is where you find oblique entrance and the seated dance, as though being carried in a canoe. Movements smooth. Malaysia is the water area: breath control - song phrases here are the longest in the world. Bronze was first smelted here. Work movement is sustained and curvilinear. Candle dance, Sumatra. Seated audience watching is unique, as if they might also be in canoes. Plains Indians have longitudinal foot gestures indicating presence of horses, rigid body posture, jerking shaking to produce aesthetic effect of movement of feathers. Alan Lomax: Making feathers and things move and shimmer occurs circum-Pacific. Narrow amplitude of foot movement noted. Stamping, a critical feature of the dance, emphasized by bells on ankle. Alan Lomax: They are enacting animals by using jerky bird movements; they are the hunter and the hunted at the same time. Plains Indians' hoop dance. Fast driving energy, maintain crouch. Tracking, moving across the terrain and changing direction. Jivaro have unusual side stepping and some foot crossing, though without the use of plough. Alan Lomax: The Jivaro are the most individualized people in the world; one man, wife, and couple of friends against the universe. Whole life spent in murder and trying to seduce other men's wives in corners. Only more miserable people are the Yanomami. Jivaro have nearest thing we have to a straight walk in the dance. Jivaro drummer and pipe. Step film. Digging is the connector of real gathering, Australians, Negritos, and others use feet as tools. Film footage of woman planting with her feet, and of Australians digging for water with feet. Tropical origins of humanity. Rituals of dust and earth in Africa (traces of this in Christianity). In northern lands the earth is frozen, feet are shod. Forrestine Paulay on reconnecting with the earth. She remarks that some therapies involve increasing foot flexibility. T5518: Forrestine Paulay briefly speaks to a student of Irmgard Bartinieff about coding ballet. There is a problem with the computer mouse. Then Alan Lomax and Forrestine analyze dance footage on the computer, beginning with dance from Java, a mixed type with points in common with both Polynesia and Melanesia - high energy, high acceleration, and bent-over held position in the trunk. Wide stance reminiscent of Australian. Alan Lomax notes that Fiji war dance and Samoan dances also high energy, but material available for study is insufficient. Tribal East Indian links Africa (to which it is allied in many ways) and Polynesia. Sliding step (unusual sideways locomotion), bilateral palm position, lateral heel position are common. Playful liveliness and variation are African in feeling. African footage shows rhythmic unison though dancers are dressed individualistically. Importance of staying close to the earth in Australian dance - digging, bouncing crouch. !Kung woman (South Africa) also shown digging but rhythm is different. Instances of seated audiences: among the Malay the audience sits and watches, apparently passively. Among the! Kung instrumentalists are in the seated middle of the dancers, not passive but directing them. In Siberia the audience is seated in tent around the shaman. Animation of African dancers compared to Europeans and others. Dance as a way of dispelling heat, conditioning body to deal with intense work in extreme heat. Exercise for extremes. Dance as an enactment of adaptation. An analysis of African women beating pestles alternately with babies on their backs. Their hips move in off rhythms. The head of the baby on mother's back bounces to an off-rhythm. Alan notes the importance of precise rhythm when two people are working with pestles in the same vessel or chopping with axes on same tree. African body rhythms play with spaces between the beat. This is the meaning of rhythm: not the beat but the spaces in between. Multi-systems in African dance. Dancers have different rhythms going on with upper and lower leg, trunk, and head. Masai multi-rhythms smoother and more successive. South African dancer more simultaneous, though still complex, with macho stomping and displays of strength. Masai movement fluid, not such big movements until men go into their big leaps. Playful bi-lateral palm presentation in African dance. More on South East Asia (tribal India). Japanese deer dance with wide stance and hopping. T5519: Dance coding issues. This is a discussion of what footage to show on a demonstration of Choreometrics in Sweden. Size of step as a parameter. Biggest steps found in Eurasia and Melanesia. Tiny steps occur in Polynesia, American villagers and African villagers. The smallest steps seem to be associated with hunters at the bottom of the complexity scale, in the circum-Pacific, including Polynesia. Larger steps in Eurasia and Melanesia. Moderate steps in Eurasian villages, the Andes, Amazon, and Black Africa - moderate is tropical. Width of stance: narrow - circum-Pacific; middle: North Eurasian, including Siberia; wide: Africa, Polynesia, Australia. Presence or absence of synchrony (moving) in the leg and its association with areas where walking is important, notably circum-Pacific, Australian gatherers, American and European villagers. Curious exception of American hunters. Siberian line dance synchronized. Arm synchrony perhaps too broad a category, needs to be broken down: forearm, hand, etc. Hand synchrony: Polynesia, Mexico, Malay, Australian gatherers, and West Asia. Wouldn't expect to find Australian gatherers or Mexico. Put a question mark there and look later. Lower leg synchrony in places where digging important. Europe, Australian gatherers, American villagers, West Asia. Makes sense. Places where foot use is important in plowing and in digging. Need to look at synchrony later. Posed synchrony: High numbers East Asian, Malay world and Australia (other links between Australia and East Asia include use of very small intervals in singing style and very precise hand use typical of East Asia). Posing in West Asia and less in Europe (probably through Central Asian influence), which belong to the same world of complexity and fine art as East Asia. Negative case among African gatherers is very important. Siberia and Melanesia also American hunters and Amazonia have low incidence of posing. All very old dance styles. West Asia and Europe have to do with that old world. High posing is most characteristic of East Asia, next Malaysia and next Polynesia and along with them Australian Aborigines and to some extent Europe and West Asia in a second category with quite a bit of posing. A virtually no posing in African gatherers and Siberia, and very little in circum-Pacific apart from Australia. Number of body parts that are moving you find the lows in Melanesia, Mexican Andes, Amazonia and Siberia, the zones of antiquity. Somewhat higher motility among American Hunters, and American villagers and Australian gatherers. Peak of motility in Polynesia, Black Africa, and East Asia. Alan Lomax: Basically there are three cases: Low motility, medium motility, high motility with no posing for Black African world, and high motility and high posing especially in East Asia and also in Polynesia and to some extent in West Asia and in Europe. You can recognize irrigation cultures by high specialization of body parts. You can actually characterize the world in terms of body parts and whether they are posed or moving - a big find, appropriate to give these lines more weight. Torso incline angle, held, patterned, and punctuated will be left out of abbreviated code. Negative cases seem to be well distributed. Alternating level - in general, highs are characteristic of Melanesia, African gatherers, American hunters, and Siberia, in circum-Pacific, but not in Australian, which goes in for held. Patterned use of level is west Asia and East Asia (that would be the major case). Sectional most characteristic of Malaysia and Polynesia. Vertical shift. Sometimes seated, sometimes standing. Patterned, multiple use of level. Downward shifting characteristic of Polynesia, black Africa, and African gatherers. Upward also shifting of black Africa (the dramatic up-down one). Paulay (audibly pleased): I am so impressed with this program! Alan Lomax: Next big pattern is neutral (no use of level [Lomax erroneously says "bounce" at first]) in Amazonia, Australia, Melanesia, and African gatherers along with bouncing, which we take to be one of the early features of dancing and which occurs in Siberia, American hunters, American villagers, Melanesia, and Amazonia (circum-Pacific). Hunters bounce as they tromp over the game. The characteristic of Europe, and, to some extent, western Asia, is jigging. Then hopping: circum-Pacific - Siberia, American villages and Mexican Andes and Australia. Lowering is Siberian and East Asia. Here we're really getting small regional cultural traits, though it's fine that everything doesn't do everything. Up and down (plunging and leaping) - are high in West Africa, Sahara, West Sudan, South Africa, Nilotic, and West European overseas (which has adapted it from Africa). Bouncing basically an Arctic-Asian and circum-Pacific trait, at its highest in New Guinea. Lowering and dipping is Eurasian - found in Arctic Asia, California, and proto-Malay. It's something very old that continues in the dance in East Asia, the Himalayas, urban Indonesia, and village India, that's its civilized zone. They discuss what material they can bring to Sweden, and what to leave out. Compatibility for large audience projection.



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