2014 Editor’s Introduction

 

We are pleased to present the second volume of the 2014 Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship (JEDS). In this journal are 9 articles representing diverse geographies, interests, and trajectories for where and how dance will be practiced and analyzed in the future. The numerous articles originally submitted for review were all double-blind reviewed by artists and scholars with noted expertise and practices in diverse fields of the dance discipline. All authors for this journal are in higher education graduate programs or are within 5 years of graduating from these programs.

The journal was developed through the sponsorship of the World Dance Alliance to support emerging dance scholars as they become important and necessary forces for dance in the 21st century. Most importantly, all authors represent new ideas, new insights, and new imaginings for how possible pathways may be forged into their future dance journeys. To navigate through the articles, please read the brief descriptions of the articles and themes below and then click on the links to each theme to find detailed abstracts of each article, biographies of the authors, and the full text.

As editors, we intentionally chose not to limit JEDS to any themes or specified boundaries for submission; instead, we wanted to see how and where the submissions might shape the journal. After working with the final submissions chosen by the reviewers as showing original research, we found that the articles divided themselves into two broad themes. Within each theme, however, each author creates differing perspectives on how dance praxis (connections between theory and practice) might be re-envisioned. Our hope is that as JEDS continues, more editors representing diverse locations and languages will join our efforts so that the rich voices and movements of these dance artists and scholars can be shared around the world.

The 2014 edition of JEDS was organized around the two following areas: How Dance is Placed, Re-Placed, and Imagined; and Dance Pedagogy: Across Geographies, Theories, and Spaces.

How Dance is Placed, Re-Placed, and Imagined

Michael Bodel in his article, “The Post-secular Movements of Bread and Bodies:  Peter Schumann’s Pageantry,” provides historical and new insights into the the Bread and Puppet Theater active since the 1960’s in Vermont, USA.  Through his own stated interests in carnival, choric work, dance film, embodied cognitions, scents, and semiotics, Bodel demonstrates how, since the 1990’s, this group continues to be situated within the “contexts of dance, Medieval and American pageantry, and theories of corporeality in religious performances.”  Caroline Sutton Clark, then, moves the reader back into the traditions of Western concert dance by opening questions concerning the role of curtain calls in her article, “Dance Curtain Calls:  Problematizing the Ends of Dances.”  By delving into diverse theorists in performance studies (Victor Turner, Michel de Certeau, Diane Taylor, and Rebecca Schneider, and Judith Hamera), Clark posits curtain calls as performance rituals and raises paradoxical questions problematizing curtain calls as signifying both the “liveness of the performance” as well as establishing a dance’s termination.

Dr. Christine Knoblauch-O’Neal’s article, “A Pedagogy of Restaging: The Authenticity of Embodied Practice” straddles the two themes of this JEDS edition.  Knoblauch-O’Neal investigates how the teaching of a dance and the documentation of a dance are intertwined between history and the present.  She examines the “concept of authenticity as defined by the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust within the restaging of the ballets of Antony Tudor” and presents this concept as depending on an “eyewitness, experientially-based, embodied and pedagogical epistemology.”  Melonie Buchanan Murray raises more interesting questions about the documentation of dance in her article “Selling Ballet:  Dancer as Commodity in the Advertising Campaigns of American Ballet Companies.”  However, Murray is interested in how this documentation emerges from the use of visual imagery in the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.  By analyzing closely the diverse visual images, she raises questions about “how an art form that emphasizes the aesthetic of the human body in motion can market the art form of ballet without objectifying the performers” in static images.

Brianna Taylor closes this thematic section with her focused study, “A Call to Action, or the Political Body in Dance and Protest: An Investigation of Victoria Marks’ Not About Iraq.”  In this study, Taylor connects dance with provocative and controversial social-political issues or the ways in which dance, as human bodies moving, has the potential to mobilize people to action in order to create lasting political and social change.  As a manifesto for change, Taylor concludes that she, “cannot help but feel the energy of the act of dancing as a call to action.”  Her paper is in response to this call.

Dance Pedagogy: Across Geographies, Theories, and Spaces

Laura Erwin in her article, “A Personal Journey into Ohad Naharin’s Gaga Technique: Discovering Pedagogical Applications for Engaging the Performer,” opens questions into how the field of dance choreography and performance is traditionally taught and how this teaching affects the audience’s engagement with the final performance.  Erwin, through her own personal experience in Gaga technique and her interweaving of numerous and diverse dance artists’ insights into the practice, provokes and challenges dance teachers and students to rethink, re-physicalize, and re-imagine what it means to connect with an audience through an embodied and engaging performance. Most importantly, she turns the notion of what is “aesthetic” on its head.

Matthew Henley in “Dance and Embodied Intelligence” outlines several theories from the field of educational psychology in order to “define the cognitive structure of nonverbal thought.”  He then suggests how cognition is vital to the human’s understanding of the world.  Further, Henley provides ideas for how the importance of nonverbal thought remains undervalued in current education and research.  Of importance to the dance field is Henley’s clear arguments about how dance can offer an “opportunity for the intentional development of thinking through the modalities of perception, action, and emotion.”  By opening future avenues of study for dancers interested in a deeper understanding of the connections between movement and learning, Henley provides new opportunities for how dance as a discipline can continue to survive within today’s higher education culture.

Alfdaniels Mabingo, through his own experiences teaching in the United States, discusses how adapting African dances from their traditional African contexts has further implications on how dance content and pedagogy are mutually constructed within the classroom. In his article, “Teaching East African Dances in Higher Education in the U.S.: Reconciling Content and Pedagogy,” Mabingo explores numerous educational theories (e.g., Vygotsky, Kolb, Lave and Wenger, Laban Movement Analysis, Csikszentmihaly, Gardner, Turino, and Bloom’s taxonomy) in relationship to education objectives.  He places the reader within his class as he teaches Ugandan traditional dances at New York University. The article covers how he selected dances for the course, developed lesson plans, gave feedback to students, and developed and applied assessment rubrics while also providing students opportunities to partake in their own learning processes.

In “J’ouvert Speaks to the Present: A Kinesthetic Journey through Moments in African-Caribbean History,” Nai-Whedai Sheriff provides an historical overview of the dance form J’ouvert as it commemorates the emancipation of the enslaved Africans in the Caribbean. However, she continues to contextualize this emancipation as celebrated by many, but with few knowing or remembering the significance the dance since European colonization disrupted the ancestral connections of an entire people. Sheriff connects an embodied historical practice with learning as she explores how to teach in a manner that brings a culture alive. Sheriff posits the historical development of J’ouvert and its related Caribbean dances as embodied experiences which tap into ancestral voices, warning the present to continually confront the “oppressor.”

 

Linda Caldwell, Ph.D., Professor and Coordinator of Doctoral Studies in Dance, Department of Dance, Texas Woman’s University, USA (World Dance Alliance-Americas - http://www.wda-americas.net/)

Urmimala Sarkar, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Theatre and Performance Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. (World Dance Alliance-Asia Pacific – http://www.wda-ap.org/wda-ap/wda-ap.htm )

 

2014 Author: Caroline Clark Photo credit: Tapestry Dance Company, National American Masterpieces tour of “The Souls of Our Feet,” 2011.  Photographer: Melisa Ackermann.

2014 Author: Caroline Clark
Photo credit: Tapestry Dance Company, National American Masterpieces tour of “The Souls of Our Feet,” 2011.
Photographer: Melisa Ackermann.