Choreography: 4 definitions

For Dance Composition 1 we're reading an article by Susan Leigh Foster titled "Choreographies and Choreographers: Four Definitions of the Terms" which defines what the word "choreography" has meant over the last couple of hundred years. What follows is the briefest of outline of the article and some interesting ideas.

Dance as Documenting
• Choreography actually meant writing down the dances so that they could be taught and repeated easily. Louis XIV had his principle Dance Master, Pierre Beauchamps create a system for writing down the floor patterns, rhythm and movements of the legs and feet.
• Through this written form much, if not all, the locality and variations of the different dances was removed. Each dance got water-down because they now had to all conform to this written form.
Dance as Testifying
• For the first time Choreography was taught in the 1930s at a summer festival at Bennington College.
• During this time the idea of the choreographer as a genius who created works of art that could address universal issues became prevalent.
• Also during this time many African-American and non-white choreographers were pigeon holed as "natural movers" and not given the same credit as their white counterparts.
• This second idea of choreography secured the idea of individual authorship while excluding group authored dance - popular or social forms of dance, for example.

Dance as Making
• During the 1960s many choreographers began to refer to themselves as directors, or use phrases like "conceived by" or "arranged by" to remove this idea of choreographer as genius and replace it with choreographer as craftsperson.
• During this time, again, technique was reevaluated, but during this period technique was also often discounted all together.
• During this time many white choreographers were drawing inspiration from Asian artistic and religious forms, but, again, Asian artists were pigeon holed doing traditional forms.

Dance as Collaboration
• In the 1980s Choreographers began working more collaboratively with their dancers - asking them to create movement, help with designing costumes and other elements of a performance.
• Brought back popular and folk forms of dance onto the concert stage in the same work as modern or post-modern vocabulary.
• Started more intensely working with artists from other art forms in true collaborative projects.

I find these categories interesting, but it seems it misses some other possible areas - like Dance as Spectacle or Dance as Ritual - there's probably more.

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