"AND WHAT ABOUT COMPLEXITY,
AND WHAT ABOUT ABSTRACTION ?"
Dance is a very young and underdeveloped artform in comparison to the other arts ; music and painting. If we consider the level of complexity achieved in both art forms already with Bach´s music when dance did not even exist as an art form, not to mention the complexity achieved this century with Schoemberg´s invention of Dodecafonism, or the incredibly complex rhythms and subtlety of melodies in Stravinsky´s work, or likewise this century´s movements in painting : Cubism, Constructivism, Suprematism etc. ; we then realise that dance has still a long way to go and to explore.
For that matter, it is inexplicable
to me how many of current dance forms in fashion fail to advance dance
in complexity level and instead are stuck in depicting pictures ; cardboard
cut -outs of realistic situations in some cases, or the sorting out of
personal problems and phantasies in others, or straightforward entertainment,
and in most cases failing to appeal to a collective unconsciousness. One
of the reasons for this situation is due I believe, to the “theater
virus” that has infected dance, producing degenerate breeds called
Dance Theater, Physical Theater, Dance and Mime etc., which has in my opinion
robbed dance of its own unique language. The contemporary theater of the
spoken language in its great crisis resorted to dance in its attempt to
escape stagnation and a sure death and whilst bringing a renewed life to
theater it has slowly been depriving dance of what it´s unique to
it. Abstract thought processes made physical. And by physical meaning,
through the bodies of highly trained “athletes” capable of controlling
and taming for spiritual purposes the most complex of instruments ; the
human body, sculpted to perfection through years of training and tradition.
(On the opposing end dancers technical achievement are at its highest development
It is curious to see as new generations of choreographers takes to the limelight how the capacity for abstraction is diminishing in an inverse proportion to the complexity levels achieved by contemporary music, painting, architecture, etc. This situation I believe it to be due to the poor capacity for abstract thought of the “T.V. generation with the Hollywood syndrome” (stuffed since their birth of Hollywood´s colonisation of the visual culture) which is sistematically pouring works which are inmediately effective through shock or visual effects in the name of the avantgarde, appealing to empty aesthetics, and with a complexity level and craftmanship next to banality which makes an “old fashion” choreographer, whose peak was in the 60´s, such as Merce Cunningham appear today at years distance to current generations for the complexity of his work and the technical level of execution achieved by his dancers. His investigation in timing and spatial conception in his works and its penetrating depths of emotions are achieved purely through basic austere abstraction. When dance resorts to theater to speak out it becomes mute, but when it talks in its own ascetic aesthetics it conquers far reaching depths.
And were are we at and were do we go?
* “... It will probably be at least antoher generation before we have a consensus on the shape of that space, but if we are to believe what art and science have been saying, it is probable that that space will exist in time, be an interactive process and organised horizontally with a geometry quite different from Euclidean geometry of renaissance perspective.” Don Foresta
The achievement of Merce Cunningham has not been fully understood and whats more important, it has not been fully assumed by the dance tradition. Cunningham´s movement technique was broadly imitated in the 80´s in the States, England and France. But the liberation of dance from the bond of music (and the use of silence), and to an even larger extent the notion of the dance space as consisting of many fronts, has had a small effect in the dance world. The conception of space was radically changed with Cunningham from the frontality and a centre, to the many fronts and policentres and in so doing opened up the way (a unique case), for William Forsythe´s future development : the switch from the linearity of dance in its space projection, to its deconstruction, and from an extended use of co-related cross- rhythms to deterritorialized counterpoints (independent territories of counterpoints), from an Euclidean geometry to a non Euclidean geometry.
I believe that it remains to fully
integrate these aspects into current choreography and even if in
a minority, to make a move towards an introverted and complex ascetic art
against the extroverted/frontal/sentimental /pseudointellectual dance shows.
Artistic achievements against the empty comodities, physical and intellectual
lazyness of the current state of the art dance works. I also believe that
the actual development of technology (and not with the intention of
creating special effects), has opened to our generation new horizons fit
for exploration towards the progress of dance composition, by assimilating
once again into its foundations the complexity that has advanced science
and the other artforms.