Just my quick thoughts after coming across this for class! Just my opinion🙂
I am really glad I came upon this post, and I really enjoyed listening to this podcast!
What really stood out to me was when Paloma mentioned how it would be helpful for critics to define their value sets and to explain to readers what lens they are looking from. Sometimes it can be misleading for a critic used to one form to be critiquing on other styles or choreography. I think that this is very true, and I think if this were different, it could really be a breakthrough for more mainstream audiences (who put all their trust on critics) to appreciate other forms of dance.
As a dancer myself, I believe that it is my responsibility to not only train in technique (whatever style that may be in), but to also understand a bit about where the movement that we are performing or studying comes from, the history behind it, and how that dance form has evolved over the years, based on the time and context it was created or developed in. I think that as an artist we bring our own human experience and culture to perform that movement, but we also need to understand the nature of that movement to be able to accurately communicate its meaning.
We tend to label everything as “contemporary” now, because dance today is such a merge of so many different styles and cultures; we take the movements and inspiration for granted, and only like the tricks (leaps, kicks, flips). However, as a dance artist, I think it is important to recognize that all types of movement have history and value to them (not just ballet). Even though jazz dance, for example takes some of its technique from ballet, the movement is also originally inspired by polyrhythmic concepts from African culture. Also, like Paloma mentioned, Alvin Ailey combines gospel with technique.
In my opinion, I don’t know if I can say that art can erase racism, but I do believe that if we can start appreciating movement for its meaning, instead of only perceiving it as aesthetically pleasing, I want to say that dance can actually unite people of different cultures, and help us appreciate and embrace rather than just tolerating the differences! We are already learning from each others’ cultures and embracing them by combining movements in choreography. We can start to see that “contemporary ballet,” is not just good or what it is because it is a “higher art form,” (because of its origin from the French courts in the 16th century), but because there are other influences, history, culture, and meaning behind it…and those “less dominant” or less apparent forms or ideas of dance should be more valued.
Can art help to erase racism? In this episode of BREAKING DOWN RACISM, dancer, choreographer and activist Paloma Mcgregor discusses how artists can be effective activists?
Produced/Written/Directed by: Crista Carter, Johanna Galomb and Benjamin Jackson
Host/Executive Producer/Series Creator Robin J. Hayes, PhD
Recorded at The New School in New York City
PICTURED Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, “Revelations” 2012 courtesy Alvin Ailey Theater