Jane Carr

Technologies for recording the moving body are implicated in the production of new forms of dance knowledge. This is exemplified by the image of the choreographer Merce Cunningham, captured on video before he died, scrutinising his computer screen as a slowed down Dance Forms animation reveals details he would have been unlikely to see if he had relied on observation of real time, live movement (CWDSPCR). For those who have access to them, it is recognised that the sophisticated technologies of motion capture ‘gives the choreographer access to a wide range of artistic possibilities’ (Article 19, 2002). However at present, in the context of the rapidly changing levels both access to and the production of internet content, it is perhaps the technologies that are more widely available that are having the most profound effect on dance as a body of knowledge. The proposed chapter will explore the relationship between dance knowledge and that most easily accessible of technologies for recording the moving body, video. In particular it will examine the extent to which the increasing reliance on video in the study of dance has promulgated both a discourse which serves to enforce the increasing hegemony of body image and a counter movement which seeks to emphasise the phenomenological experience of ’liveness’ that is difficult to, (and perhaps even resists) capture.

The discussion will be organised into thee interrelated strands which will develop upon previous debates about the ontological status of records of dance movement along with a reconsideration of the epistemological relationship between modes of recording, analysis and interpretation in the production of dance knowledge.

Video in the Dance Class

In terms of the traditional power relations between dance student and teacher the use of video to record, analyse and improve is potentially emancipatory. Yet viewed though the lens of Foucault’s panopticism it can be argued that video has also served to extend surveillance to increasingly microscopic details. For this section I will draw on the experiences of teaching and assessing a third year dance technique class drawing on comments from students to exemplify the discussion further.

Modes of Analysis

The availability of video recorded dance has developed alongside the academic field of dance analysis in which there has been a shift in emphasis from formalist analysis of spatial and temporal components to semiotic analyses in which the moving body is ‘read’ in the context of both the specific conditions of performance and the wider cultural context. The extent to which video has facilitated analysis of (nexial) connections between the elements comprising a dance will be explored together with consideration of the increased recognition of the role of the spectator (including the camera) in constructing the dance.

Dance in the New Visual Culture

The audience’s familiarity with video culture (which increasingly includes the games environment), provides new frameworks within which dance is received: the styles of spectatorship learned though video may make it harder to appreciate some styles of live performance. Such frameworks are however also productive of those efforts to resist dominant forms of spectatorship that include choreographic concerns with the phenomenological experience of dance. Lee 200? . This will lead into an examination of those elements of movement that evade ‘capture’.

By drawing conclusions from the above discussion the chapter will draw to a close by considering whether the findings in relation to video have implications for a future in which technologies to capture movement continue to develop and to become more widely available.


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