Dance and the Media

Dance is the new black and everyone is watching it. TV shows like Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance are changing society’s view on dance. Dance began as a social movement full of expression and technique but today it’s a competition with lots of tricks and lack of emotion on television. In dance as a child you take technique classes in Ballet, because it’s said that it is the foundation for all forms.

Dance Moms shows the competition side of dance at an early age. It follows six young dancers who battle it out every week in new competitions across the country competing in solos and group pieces for the Abby Lee Miller Dance Company. The girls are learning a multitude of styles and tricks for each genre of dance. You can hear Abby screaming about technique and creating technically sound dancers but where is the passion? How can one find the passion behind the tricks and the flashy costumes.

Image(Google Images- Dance Moms)

Dance Moms is preparing the girls to go on to So You Think You Can Dance. I love the show, however it’s becoming more about the tricks you can do and less about the technique and quality of the movement. I think it’s great that the show makes everyone dance in multiple styles that they usually wouldn’t get, but if it’s a competition let’s make it one, lets take out the dance form “contemporary.” Most of the dancers getting picked to go into the top 20 are jazz or contemporary dancers. Lets challenge them take out contemporary and add African or better yet, take it back to the foundation lets add a Ballet pas de deux.   

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(Google Images – So You Think You Can Dance Lauren)

The issue is dance is more than tricks and flashy costumes. It is a creative and artistic outlet for expression, that serves a deeper meaning. Classical dance forms like Ballet and Modern are being overlooked. Dance on television is just entertainment, it’s the glamourous side. Dance is not glamourous there are many struggles, one has to be determined and passionate to do it. Media should show both sides.  

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(Google Images- Misty Copeland Pas De Deux)

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Bill T Jones -Story/Time

Sporadic, warped, yet extremely intriguing and danced beautifully the Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Story/Time, is a unique dance theater experience for everyone. The Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane dance company performed at The Vets in Providence, RI. 

Bill T Jones and his company has shaped the evolution of dance through the creation and performance of more than 140 works in multiple venues of modern dance and theatrical dance. He has created award-winning choreography for the musicals like Spring Awakening on Broadway. He retired at 60 and decided to come back with the world premier Story/ Time. 

The visual landscape of Story/ Time is defined by Bill T Jones sitting at a table center stage with a digital clock appearing behind him counting the minuets. It is based on Indeterminacy where Cage sits alone on a stage reading one-minuet stories. 

Image(Photo: Taken by Matt Rainey for the NY TIme)
 

  There are nine dancers dressed in yoga pants, bright T-shirts, hoodies and printed dresses that orbit around Bill T Jones, and the ever-changing scenery. The dancers executed one-minuet choreographed pieces that invoked both ballet and modern techniques. There are duets and trios of dancers bending and swinging their arms, creating flowing lines parallel with their lunging legs. An exciting moment is when a dancer stands on another’s shoulders and falls backward into the group’s outstretched arms, which in flows into interesting partnering and lifts.  Later in the work you see men and women rolling across the stage and they encounter a man and woman performing naked.  The movement is constantly changing style, just like the story and the musical accompanying it.

The composer Ted plays a wide arrangement of music from playing both acoustic and electronic guitar, vocal samples loops and percussion. The music was generally warm and pleasing, which helped complement Bill T Jones voice. There was two sections however, that were deliberately loud that had you wishing you could mute the music. But after a long two minuets it quickly changes into a different section with a hammers sound banging on steel springs. The constant changing music and movement combine with the lighting produced a hypnotic atmosphere.

 

I thought the performance was great. It was sporadic yet intriguing all at the same time. Bill T Jones grabs your attention from the moment he steps foot on stage. Bill T Jones gets the audience involved by asking how long we think a min is and everyone is surprised to see how long a minuet really is from there he says “well you 70 more of those left” and then sits down to begin the performance. At first you find yourself trying to focus on either the movement or the story but it isn’t until you give up and just sit back and accept then do you get to enjoy the work. The only thing that was unpleasing is the back to back section with the over amplified music combined with the harsh bright back lighting that the dancers move across the stage slowly. If you thought a minuet was quick that will be one of the longest minuets of your life after it is over however, you will be relieved and can go back to enjoying the rest of the show. The work all feels like a dream in the end because there are 70 short stories you cant remember them all and when it is over you a just amazed with what happened and struggle with the fact that you only remember a few specific stories from the show like Bill T Jones talking about a conversation with his mother. Overall I think Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company performance of Story/ Time was dance beautifully and it is a must see. The show will always be slightly different with the fact that the order of the stories are read at random and left to chance.  You will be in for a roller coaster ride with many twist and turns that will leave you breathless and wanting more.