Dancing still: interpreting visual archives in dance.

Carter, Alexandra (2009) Dancing still: interpreting visual archives in dance. In: The visual archive: moving image and memory, 28-29 May 2009, Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change, The Open University, Milton Keynes.. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Before the advent of film, dances of the past tended to leave their heritage in written forms such as historiography, criticism, notation and fiction. Often, visual images complement the record. All of these sources, however, are static and, as such, appear to be at odds with the essential nature of dance as movement. It is argued in this paper, however, that the still visual image can speak eloquently of movement: of its context, its choreography and its production values. These sources have, therefore, a key role to play in re-constructing dances that are lost to historical memory. The debate is exemplified by the use of two case studies drawn from newly accessible archives on early twentieth century British theatre dance. Housed at the National Resource Centre for Dance, University of Surrey, they provide a rich source of information on the dance forms of Natural Movement and Classical Greek Dance. Allied to international trends in the arts, education, philosophy and spirituality, these forms turned to nature and ‘the natural’ as embodying notions of freedom, balance and holistic harmony of body, mind and emotion. The British exponents of these forms of dance – also called ‘free’, ‘interpretative’ or ‘expressive’ dance - have been largely forgotten Photographs, costumes and properties from 1910s – 1930s contribute to the construction of knowledge about how these performers actually moved. These sources are not just instrumental in informing dance scholarship, however, for they are each situated within broader arts and crafts traditions which have their own languages and structures. As such, they are worthy of examination as contributing to the (re)- production of a far broader cultural memory.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas:School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
ID Code:3128
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Deposited On:29 Mar 2010 15:44
Last Modified:20 Jul 2014 05:03

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