[dance-tech] Re: repertory worlds

  • From: Dawn Stoppiello <dawn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 15:19:47 -0500

Oh my - Hello Johannes and all,

First I want to say that only recently was I able to read all the posts on the mailing list and have not yet visited the ning site yet. I just can't keep up to be honest. But I am happy that others are.

I can't think of any dance makers in Troika Ranch's stage in the game (10+ years as a company) that do "repertory" anymore. Unless one had reached the stature of a Trisha, Merce or Bill by the middle 90's at the latest, one doesn't have the resources, the company size and permanent cast and space to keep up old work while making new. I think the idea of "repertory" may be outdated not just in the D&T world but in the dance world in general. Also US presenters that present contemporary work usually want a premiere. Unless you are Alvin Ailey or Paul Taylor with an annual City Center season with an A and B program, rep is out I think.

And, Mark and I just did a major purging of old technology from our house. We had to keep some old stuff around in the (unlikely) event that we would be asked to present one of our older works from say 1994 or 1998. It's difficult to keep a pile of gear around that was used in an old work when you have moved onto newer, faster, more relevant gear for a newer work when you live in a small NYC apartment. Hmmm. Makes me think of Abbey Road studios that apparently has all kinds of old audio playback devices so that works recorded on older mediums can be modernized. Would be cool if there was a place like that for the D&T world. A place where one could go to rent or borrow an old Powerbook running OS 8 or 9 or a Laserdisc player or VCR or MidiDancer or Sensor Beam or Diem Digital Dance Suit or Matel Power Glove or use a 1.0 version of a particular piece of software. Kind of a working museum. But, still the bigger question is where is the call to perform these older work? Who wants to see them now?

I hate to say it but I think the need for a special Dance & Technology genre is over. Most dance and theater pieces I see these days seem to have video in them. I even saw a play recently by Elevator Repair Service that used Isadora to run the sound and sound effects from an on-stage keyboard played by an actor. Tons of live cameras everywhere. And sensor-schmensor - nothing revolutionary here really. Many use camera tracking or motion capture or midi (god forbid!) sensors. It's all just out there for all to use. Thanks to many of us on this list who made it possible through workshops, symposia, creating software, hardware, doing a lot of painful (and fun) research for 15 years to bring tools into the commercial realm. It used to be you had to make it yourself. Now you just Google and can find software and hardware to make your live media extravaganza! Now there are university departments that teach you how to do it. I think this is a good thing. Not that we don't need to be a community and support each other with our deeper knowledge of our history, but I am feeling that the "sub-genre" is a little exclusionary and unnecessary anymore. Troika Ranch is simply trying to make art in an art market. We'll perform wherever they'll have us almost - a theater, a gallery, a dance department or a media art department. And now we are making film and installation also. We dropped "digital dance theater" from our name a few years ago. We are just Troika Ranch now.

Maybe I am opening a can of worms, I hope not because I don't know if I have the time and wear-with-all to respond often. Oh well. Let me have it then ; )

my best to all my comrades out there,

hello all:

A very good reply has appeared on the dancetech-ning forum site, to my last post, and i should repost it here, if you wish (a response by Matt Gough, addressing the issue of history/historicizing and collectively writing on dance and technology and its repertoire). http://dancetech.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=1462368%3ATopic%3A5961&page=3

Is there a repertoire in our art form?

which performance works are kept in repertory and can be seen repeatedly, over the years, perhaps also performed by different performers (as we have all seen different performed-versions of Balanchine's choreographies, or Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring or Kontakthof, for example............., or of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated... ). I was thinking about history and the role of repertory when i read a rather interesting review of New York City Ballet?s new program ?Balanchine?s World" (including the 1975 ?Le Tombeau de Couperin,? .........

is there a repertory of works created in digital performance, a repertory of computational dance works, and are the core ideas, new compositional (interactive, real-time) approaches to making such works, the specific performer and design techniques, software applications or live coding practices, spatial / projective architectures and scenographies , etc, passed on from generation to generation? we might think, no, not really ( with a few exceptions, such as in Cunningham's company case, Trisha Brown's case, or maybe Forsythe's company case whose members are now making their own work or are directing works, or in the case of numerous other artists who have worked collaboratively with others, but generally, such collaborative ad-hoc work, or specific group-identified work, say, by Dumb Type, Troika Ranch, kondiiton pluriel, Ventura dance company, etc etc, is not re-created in most cases (since dancers often are pick up and the group changes casts from case to case....), and this is one of the weaknesses of the "genre" or the artform, it as yet lacks the sustained and consistent signature work over decades - driven by ensemble practice and rehearsal and growth --- that we see in numerous cases in the visual art, or in cases of performance directors (Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman, Meredith Monk. Tim Etchells, Jan Fabre, Jan Lauwers, etc) and groups (Wooster Group, Builders Association, Theatre Complicite, etc) articulating their work consistently with an intermedial dramaturgy.

There are numerous artists (digital artists and designers) working close to our/in our field, however, who have built work over one, two decades, or more, and some video artists, film artists (like Toni Dove) or conceptual artists have walked the pathways (of installation art, video art, participatory & interactional art, audio art & electronic music, light art, kinetic art/robotics) that now computational performance or peformance-tech works tread, but how do we speak of repertory here? i would love to hear some comments from you.

Finally, i mentioned the Forsythe Company, partly because i find an experimenting and risk taking company of that stature, not unlike the tremendous impact Pina Bausch has had on tanztheater, quite significant as a "school" (of training, of ideas, or methods, and of perceptions) --- since there will have been dancers over the years who are now choreographers and teachers (as we see the strong school and research model also of P.A.R.T.S -- even though the latter does not seem to generate much work in dance technology ---yet for its pedagocial and artistic influence, please see: de Belder, Steven and Theo van Rompay, eds., P.A.R.T.S ? Documenting Ten Years of Contemporary Dance Education, Brussels: P.A.R.T.S., 2006) and who pass on their knowledge or take their knowledge down new and modified roads.

case in point: Richard Siegal: ------ did anyone see his concert in New York? i would love to hear some comments and reactions here on our list, do you know his work? The NY Times reported: (Saturday, same issue as the Balanchine review): http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/19/arts/dance/19bake.html?ref=dance

"A Leaf Spinning, Darting and Falling in an Electronic Tempest of Light and Video" -- reading this review, one could get excited and wishes to have been there, and i believe for all of us that such interest (as it is aroused here) would be good:

an interest in understanding and contextualizing how dance technology (a clumsy term), i.e. how digital performance and computational & networked/distributed compositions have evolved and are being deployed/situated in dance, in installation, in locative mediaworks, in networked performances, in multimedia theatre, in screen based media works and other hybrids. Oliver Grau and Popper speak of "virtual art" (perhaps another odd name intended as overarching category), and again most often they describe (and chronologize) signature work of artists with name recognition, some more, some less, and seldom do such books address performance art and performativities, training and recompositions yielding repertory and sustainable/expandable performer knowledge and designer knowledge.

with regards
Johannes Birringer
Houston, TX

(A few other publications come to mind here, in this context:
Brouwer, Joke, with Arjen Mulder, Anne Nigten, Laura Martz, eds., aRt&D: Artistic Research and Development, Rotterdam: V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers, 2005.Walker Arts Center. Art Performs Life: Merce Cunningham/ Meredith Monk/ Bill T. Jones. Minneapolis: Print Craft, Inc., 1998 Doherty. Claire (ed.): Contemporary Art from Studio to Situation. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2004. Lipp, Nele, Körper, Leib, Raum: Eine Ausstellung. Essen,: Art Print Publishers, 2005. Dinkla, Söke and Martina Leeker, eds., Dance and Technology/ Tanz und Technologie: Moving towards Media Productions - Auf dem Weg zu medialen Inszenierungen (Berlin: Alexander Verlag, 2002). Dixon, Steve, Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 2007) Popper, Frank, From Technological to Virtual Art, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006 Buskirk, Martha, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art , Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006 Hansen, Mark B., Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media, London: Routledge, 2006 Chapple, Freda & Kattenbelt, Chiel, eds., Intermediality in Theatre and Performance. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006 Grau, Oliver, Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.

Dawn Stoppiello
Executive Director
Artistic Co-Director
Troika Ranch
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is. --- Yogi Berra

Other related posts: