Discussions, Interviews & Lectures Detail
:: Description :: Alan Lomax and Forrestine Paulay discuss flim clips of the Twist, the movement styles of Buddy Holly, ballroom and cabaret-style couple dances, Charles Moore, Katherine Dunham, Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring, Irene Castle and James Fisher, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, modern fine-art dance reconstructions, Mary Labelle discusses Tricia Brown and Twyla Tharp
:: Project :: Cantometrics, Choreometrics, The Urban Strain
:: Date Range :: 07-15-1985 to 07-23-1995
:: Particpants ::
Lomax, Alan
Lobelle, Mary
Paulay, Forrestine
:: Subjects ::
Smithsonian Folk Festival
Dance style - ballroom dancing
Dance style - the Twist
Buddy Holly's movement patterns
Dance style - the Ostrich Dance
Charles Moore
Tricia Brown
James Brown
Miss Parks dance company
Dance style - Double dutch
Bill Bojangles Robinson
Katherine Dunham and Shango perrformance style
Irene Castle
Martha Graham - reconstructed ballets of
Twyla Tharp
Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring, with music by Aaron Copland
Dance style - white tap dancing school, instructional film
:: Cultures ::
African American
North American
:: Holdings ::
Media not yet available
:: Notes :: T7350: Male and female dancers doing the twist contrasted. He is speedier, more angular. His movement extends from the scapula. She is somewhat more curvaceous. She presents buttocks. The corkscrew - a spiral kick toward the rear like a ballet arabesque but with turning. Leg action reminiscent of Brazilian leg fighting gestures go to erotic patterns. Buddy Holly has more movement in the torso than one notices at first, his movement is successive, with heel tapping. He comes across as very upright, relatively still, with small movements. Charles Moore doing the Ostrich Dance, a response to an African dance. Movement is highly successive, fluid, undulating. Less usual are the spiraling hand and pointy use of feet - an animal imitation. The successive use of arms recalls Watusi dancers' style. Shango, from Katherine Dunham's Bal Negre, is linear, with posed trunk and emphatic gesture. Waltz, from final rounds of an international ballroom dance competition. July 21. Cabaret-style free-form couple dances. Alan Lomax remarks on the changes of level use of the split and notes the influence of black dance styles. Analysis of Martha Graham and Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring, a dance marked by posing, small linear movement, and groups of people used as backdrop contrasting with simultaneous linear movement of the performing dancers, who jump and prance almost as in a musical comedy but with still, expressionless faces. Alan Lomax calls Copland's music, "charming, but thin gruel compared to the hard, tough wailing of authentic Appalachian music." He notes the enormous refinement of the whole dance, which he finds more exquisite than other fine dances they have seen. Forrestine Paulay: Fine art dances are characterized by extreme precision in their use of space and very refined and varied use of dynamics. Alan Lomax: The movement is done in the context of character development and role, and used to show different phases of the drama. Forrestine Paulay: The highly cultivated, linear simultaneous movement is characteristic of the northwest European tradition. There is no central impulse. There are more codes here for differential activity for the leaders than anywhere else. The plot focuses on the young couple, the formation of the nuclear family, and centers on the young girl's tender longing for a husband. It is a serious kind of romanticism, foreign to the sometimes cruel backwoods life of the south east United States. July 22. Irene Castle and James Fisher at the 1939 World's Fair ballroom dance exhibition in which the man maneuvers the woman and lifts her. There is a constant fluttering of fabric. Couple adjusts to each other with complex, intricate stepping as they move through space. Not much difference in patterning between the man and the woman, in contrast to Graham. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson dances with a restraint that suggests he has more to give. There are sudden flashes of acceleration combined with containment and readiness. Torso contrasts to Twyla Tharp. There is a laxness of body tone. He is playing it cool. No limpness (Europeans go limp), body in readiness. He poses the upper arm as a comic statement, leaps with the lower leg coming toward the hip. Ballroom dancing from the 1930s. A foxtrot film from Great Performances. This is the American middle class baseline from which everything is to be viewed. It is erect; the movement is moderate, with rebound. The effect is jerky. This dance portrays the society: hundreds of individualized couples, dancing face to face, belly to belly, step toward the free sensuality of the modern age to the syncopated beat of a jazz orchestra. Feet stay close to the floor (African influence?). Ball of foot skims along, not black style (where heel of foot makes it possible to feel the syncopation). The face to face dance is a European form, but belly to belly is not. A clip of dancers on top of a skyscraper, imitating machines. White instructional tap dance film. Teacher intones: "Now, do everything just right." Feet are kept close to the floor, African style. In professional dancers the alternation goes through the whole leg. Amateurs look more like cloggers. Use of energy very close to foxtrot (NW European and Arctic), precise use of space. Emphatic stress mirrors stressed English speaking style. Forrestine Paulay comments on Double Dutch - its speed and incredible range of movement. In white style, the large muscles are used for holding. Twyla Tharp and the black influence on popular dances of the 1930s. The white social age doesn't touch the fantastic dances of Harlem or the Deep South. Bill Robinson dances with the precision of someone dealing cards at a poker table. The dance marathon is the image of a marriage where you hang on till the bitter end. Emphasis on endurance. Whites are over stimulated by blacks. Analysis of the dance in Les Blank's film about the polka. Rebound the most important characteristic. Miss Park's Company, 1971. Most are two-unit, pelvis and chest going the whole time, as each part of the central body is picked out for special attention. There are many kinds of vertical step and a non-territorial, playful approach to space. The Waddle, The Diddly Walk, and the Boogaloo, in which four or five girls in pantsuits with slits mimic moments of sexual ecstasy. Twist emphasizes sides and middle body, with crouches in an African dance pattern. T7251: July 23. Modern fine-art dance reconstruction. Ted Shawn's reconstruction of Graham's Lamentation has an over-emphatic, heavy looking quality, though beautiful in many ways. It is strongly European - linear, with use of costume, upper limbs slice through the air (Arctic style). Doris Humphrey's "Air on the G String" took elements from Ruth St. Denis's diagonal approach to space, body spirals, and embroidered step style. There is a very slow tempo, complex spatial path, and great smoothness. The gracious flowing movement connects to classical Greek and Renaissance pictorial art. The body is not held or fixed, the center of the body is used in feminine curves. Isadora Duncan introduced a flowing quality into Northern dance. Martha Graham has become more angular. Sally Rand's spirals are almost rigid, with lots of posing, energy level mostly low. June 30. Analysis by Mary Labelle, Alan Lomax, Forrestine Paulay, and of Tricia Brown and Twyla Tharp. Tricia Brown was precursor of Twyla Tharp. Used central impulse from upper body, moved away from precise arm use toward African style, but stiff and not flowing. Very successive and jerky. Twyla Tharp had adopted a good many African characteristics, multi-leveled rather than interlaced, more like Peking opera. Looking at Dixieland as if it were a lot of fun. Innocent fun. Not suggestive. Dimensionality is really the name of the game. Emergence of the multi-style in modern dance. Dramatic purpose of dance. Footage of Smithsonian Folk Festival. Alan Lomax remarks on the use of drums to call or organize a big crowd. This has invaded the folk scene. Blues used to be a string genre, now even blues brings big crowds. It is bad when simplified and degraded. Outstanding bits of festival: Kingsway Gospel Brass. July 3, midday. James Brown in concert with three dancers in a line. Very high energy, more than African. Steadily high, high acceleration, enormous amount of breaking (cf. Michael Jackson). This style is amplified to the peak. Orchestra uses isometric figures to the end. Brown sings blues song with variations of screaming slides, ornament, tremolo, glissando. Hot, hard rock. Whites incapable of doing these things.



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