Where do you encounter dance?
By Nicole Zee
For many of us, this encounter is increasingly occurring outside of the theater as the formal presentation of dance is happening everywhere: museums, galleries, site-specific venues, and other non-traditional and non-proscenium venues. These “other” spaces for dance allow audiences and artists to engage with dance in new ways and test the boundaries of the form. What in the theater is temporally defined by a start time and spatially defined by a proscenium arch is transformed when placed in a gallery space as a durational piece with no set front. As the space for dance changes, so do the rules and paradigms associated with it, unlocking new possibilities for the form and the way we interact with it.
These potentialities are why we at Tillt are asking, what is the space for dance? There are a myriad of answers to this question, but I think it is helpful to structure our exploration of this question through three main themes: What is the physical space for dance? What is the economic or market space for dance? What is the socio-cultural space for dance?
Physically, as I mentioned above, changing venues and paradigms of dance presentation create new opportunities for the medium of art dance, allowing for the expansion of time, audience interaction, and more. The same could be said for dance on video; in directing the viewer’s eye, dance films stretch the boundaries of what dance is and how it can be perceived. Additionally, because of the ubiquity of video and platforms on which to view it, the space for watching dance grows. No longer limited to a theatrical event, dance is something we can watch at home, while waiting in line, or on the train. This begs the question, how are we consuming dance? Given the popularity of media streaming services, what is the future of live dance performance? What space is left for dance in the realm of live performance dominated by Broadway blockbusters? Is there any money to be made in performing and presenting it anymore?
There is also the larger question about the space dance occupies in our minds and lives. For some it is a craft and mode of expression, for others a religious act or ritual, and for many it is also a social activity, something we do together at parties and celebrations. Beyond these social functions, how does dance fit into our larger world? It can be a political action; one example is New Dance Group, founded in the 1930s with the goal of achieving social change through dance. It can be used as a tool for understanding, as Dana Caspersen is using movement as a tool for conflict resolution. Dance can also be used for healing and therapy.
All these different spaces for dance I’ve listed above are just the beginning. The articles in this issue continue to explore the space dance occupies in our world and inquire what spaces dance might occupy in the future.