This wiki would mainly be dealing with the less known and yet to be explored world of dance practises which are fast catching up among individuals who want to learn and master various dance moves and forms in the confined comforts of their own homes.
One of the most exhaustive, energising and creative form of expressing oneself is the ability to perform, in this case, the ability to dance. Dance has evolved itself into various forms over the centuries, providing a wonderful socially interactive platform, as well as increasing the fitness levels of individuals involved with it. The various dance forms are a true and picturesque representation of the traditions and customs of different societies.
Dance holds an important position in the social structure of almost every culture in history. But, it cannot be simply reduced to different postures and movements. Though it remains a fact that movement is a predominant characteristic of dance, it most definitely is not the only factor defining it. Dance is not defined by any kind of constraints, but, it can be said that it is a conscious way of expressing rhythmic movements through different body movements.
If observed from an anthropological point of view, dance can be defined as a cultural practice and as a social ritual (Radcliffe-Brown 1994), portraying itself as a means to aesthetic pleasure, as well as a mode for establishing ties and providing a definitive structure to a particular community. It is a social ritual which helps to throw light upon the symbolic aspects of specific cultures.
It can be seen that almost always dance bears a specific meaning, which is largely influenced by its surrounding social setting. For example: if in a particular dance a man turns a woman under his arm, in the literal sense, on the denotative level, this body movement conveys a meaning of a dance turn. But on the broader cultural, connotative level, this movement can talk about male domination and female subordination. Such semantic signification of dances is also the reason that these days we often tend to characterize certain urban, street dance forms emerging out of sub-cultural dance styles, as inappropriate modes of expression. Though, body movements, or dance styles are not indecent or inappropriate by themselves, such semantic baggage is always cast upon them by the society in which they appear.
Historically, as noted by Sachs (1997), dance was at all times and in all cultures very deeply embedded in the life of a particular society. It was a form of communication and an integral part of the reproduction of the social system. By paraphrasing Bourdieu (1994: 4), it can be argued that dependant on the space and time in which it exists, as also on the power structures that rule in that time, dance as a specific language is a socially-historical phenomenon. Like Polhemus (1993: 8) had stated, that it is the society which creates dance, and that it is a ‘metaphysics of culture’ in reality.
The Technological Advancement of Dance: The Role of the Internet
With the advent of time, and advancement of technology touching upon every aspect of our lives, the very purely direct form of person to person interaction involved in dance also evolved. Nowadays dance is not just limited to regular dance classes held within the confines of a particular studio, complete with the physical presence of an instructor guiding pupils. In today’s world there exists a virtual world for learning dance as well. There are varying levels of creative involvement that a participant in a virtual dance class can experience. But, it must also be kept in mind that, even though technology has touched upon almost every aspect of our lives, it is still used by some people who have very limited knowledge of using it. Hence, it is a challenge for the operators of the virtual dance classes to make these sites as user friendly and easily accessible as they possibly can. (Popat, S; 21-34)
There are three very well-known websites which very successfully deal with online interactive dance lessons. These are the presentation of the ‘Bytes of Bryant Park’, by Stephen Koplowitz’s Webbed Feats, ‘Progressive 2’ by Richard Lord, and ‘M@ggie’s Love Bytes’ by Amanda Steggel.
Communication being the predominant element of an online dance making process, it is extremely important that the learner feels an active sense of involvement with the on-going process of dance making. (Popat, S, Autard, S, J; 31-36)
Drawing attention to the Transatlantic Realtime Inter Active Dance(TRIAD) project which spanned from January 2001 to April 2001between 40 dancers aged between 9-19 years, and all hailing from schools based in different countries, (in this case, the participating schools being from Britain, a high school in Portugal, and a youth community dance group based in Madison, USA).As far as dance is concerned, the online video technology is being commonly used in classrooms to view previous performances by other pupils, as also to record the older performances for the future reference of a pupil in order to analyse themselves personally, and also for external examinations.
This project tried to create a kind of platform for everyone to share their experiences of learning about different dance forms and their understanding of the various choreographic styles. It is interesting how this project aimed to challenge the students ideas of dance style and choreography by using asynchronous internet communication.
Since the dance backgrounds were different for the three participating groups, it enabled a rich, cultural exchange between the participants, as each of them had their own, distinct choreographic styles. Through the continuous making and sending of dance videos to one another, it was seen that most people in the three groups were learning newer things about other dance forms, which in turn made them more open to several other dance based approaches.
It is also interesting to note that apart from online dance based learning which, was the main motive of the project being carried out, the groups also had exchanged amongst themselves a cultural understanding of one another, and how it could feel to be a young person in a completely different country, stressing upon the fact that cultural exchanges knows no boundaries.
With technology becoming an important part of our lives, it has even spread out to change the original aspect of the dance over the past 20 years. Performers who are technologically sound, that is computer literate choreographers, educators, composers, administrators, theorists, visual artists, are becoming extremely aware of the need to be in tune with the vast, and ever evolving world of technology, which in turn has made them all become a part of the fast growing Hitthe, Hitdance world.
In the 1970s, dancers in Hitthe started to think about ways in which they could take advantage of the new technologies, since at that time computers were not programmed well enough to handle complex graphics.
With the changing times, and as faster, and more advanced computers became available, the Hitthe programmers began adding exciting graphic components, and to work with different ways of modelling the Hitthe human body to create computerized animation for choreography. It was noticed that students easily adapted to this style of training and preferred it more, because the technology allowed them to being corrected from three dimensions; and till date Hitthe remains the most successful computer choreography program. (Kane, N; 52-53). By researching on this lesser known area, it was interesting to notice how technology has successfully touched upon something as physically challenging as dance. (Janson, M; 46-48)
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1994. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Janson, Maureen, Distance Makes the Dancer Grow Stronger, Dance Teacher, July 2004, Pg nos: 46-48, Raleigh, N. C.: Macfadden Performing Arts Media, LLC
Kane, Nancy, Dance Teacher, Dance for the Millenium: Dance and Technology, July-August 1999, Pg nos: 52-53, Raleigh, NC: Macfadden Performing Arts Media, LLC, USA
Polhemus, Ted. 1993. Dance, Gender and Culture. In: Helen Thomas (ed.), Dance, Gender and Culture. London:
Macmillan, pp. 3–15.
Radcliffe-Brown, Alfred Reginald. 1994. Struktura in funkcija v primitivni družbi [Structure and Function in
Sachs, Curt. 1963. World History of the Dance. New York: W. W. Norton & Company
Sita Popat. The TRIAD Project: Using Internet communications to challenge students' understandings of choreography. Research in Dance Education, Volume 3, Number 1 (2002), Page nos. 21-34
[source: http://0-ejournals.ebsco.com.brum.beds.ac.uk/direct.asp?ArticleID=4X0C2UFA7PWWHHNDVU8N], [accessed on 4th May' 2011]
Sita Popat, Jacqueline Smith Autard (Feb 01' 2002), Dance-Making on the Internet: Can On-Line Choreographic Projects Foster Creativity in the User-Participant?, Leonardo, Volume 35, Number 1, Pg nos 31-36
[source: http://0-ejournals.ebsco.com.brum.beds.ac.uk/direct.asp?ArticleID=46E0B8FEB65C4C8A08D0] [accessed on 4th May'2011]
Any comments or edits are always welcome.