giliT
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

giliT

on

  • 347 views

 

Statistics

Views

Total Views
347
Views on SlideShare
347
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
1
Downloads
0
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

giliT giliT Document Transcript

  • Theatre, Dance, and Theory: A Philosophical Narrative Author(s): Noel Carroll Source: Dance Chronicle, Vol. 15, No. 3 (1992), pp. 317-331 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1567822 Accessed: 27/12/2008 06:22 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=taylorfrancis. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Dance Chronicle. http://www.jstor.org
  • Theatre,Dance, and Theory: A PhilosophicalNarrative Noel Carroll Since the eighties, as a result of developmentsin dance in Europe, Japan, and America,criticsboth here and abroadhave writtenas if the currentexperimentation innovativeintersections theatreand in of dance representssomethingepochal.' On the one hand, this could elicit a perfunctory,skepticalresponse.One mightsay that danceor, at least, dance art-often referredto as theatricaldancing-just is a theatreart, and this, in turn, mightpromptthe debunkingquestion: quot;So what is all the excitementabout?quot; That is, danceart is a species of the genus theatre, so of course the two are related. Nevertheless,the currentfusion of theatreand dance-in the works of choreographers diverseas Pina Bausch, Sankai Juku, as TrishaBrown, and Jim Self-does seemto marka historicalturning point that deservestheoreticalconsideration.For although it is in somesenseobviousthat danceis a theatreart, this viewhas often been contestedfrom withinthe provinceof danceby voices clamoringfor sovereignstatehood. Of especialrelevanceto contemporary explorationsof the re- lationsbetweentheatreand dance, undoubtedly,is the fact that such an antitheatrical supplieda polemicalfoundationto muchof the bias influentialAmericandance of the sixties and seventies-the dance ? 1992 by Noe Carroll 317
  • 318 DANCE CHRONICLE movementthat emergedfrom the experimentation, most notably, at Judson Churchin New York City.2For example,in an often quoted YvonneRainerregistered statement, whatshe calledquot;a verylargeNO to many of the facts in the theatretoday.quot;3 She went on to assert: NO to spectacleno to virtuosityno to transformation magic and and make-believe to the glamourand transcendency the starimageno no of to the heroic no to the anti-heroicno to trash imageryno to involve- ment of performer spectatorno to style no to camp no to seduction or of spectatorby the wilesof the performer to eccentricity to mov- no no ing or being moved.4 Although Rainerherselfwas quite clearthat these disavowals a merelyrepresented programmatic statementof the moment, rather thana manifestoaboutthe natureof danceandits relationto theatre,5 historically,her intentionswere disregarded, and her statementwas embraced a proclamation, a clarioncallto enlistin the puredance. as as What for Rainer was a forcefully articulated,but strategic in choice-one she freelyadmittedshe mightreconsider the future- assumedthe status of an ontology of dance for emergingpractition- ers and youngercritics. This is not to say that all the dance activity that was influencedby, or thought to be influencedby, Rainerand the JudsonChurchreallyabidedby all the eschewalsRaineragitated for. But rather,somethinglike Rainer'sagendabecamethe basis of the self-understanding much Americandance of the sixties and of early seventies6-even if manychoreographers mightrecitethese who commitmentsin interviewsdid not appearto respectthe quot;letter of the lawquot; in their work. Of course, it is in the contextof the antitheatricalism what of has come to be calledearlypostmoderndancethat the currentinter- sectionof theatreand danceassumesimportance.For the antitheatri- calism of the Judson movementhas so run its course that, indubit- ably, that momentin dancehistoryis closedand has been so for quite some time. Evidencefor this is availableon all sides. Most tellingly, the work of importantmembersof the Judson Churchmovementitself becameincreasingly theatrical. One thinksof LucindaChilds'scollab- orationwithRobertWilsonin Einsteinon the Beach(1977)as a water- shedevent, while David Gordonmoved from the austereminimalism
  • THEATRE,DANCE AND THEORY 319 of SpilledMilk (1974)to avant-garde pantomimein WhatHappened (1978) and theatricalenactmentin Framework(1983) and Murder (1986).And coincidentwith this shift towardtheatricality the part on of Judsonveteransis the evidenttheatricalsensibilityof an emerging of generation talentedchoreographers America,Europe,and Asia, in includingPina Bausch,MaguyMarin,MichaelClark,MarkMorris, Jim Self, Eiko and Koma, and many others. Thus, we find ourselvesat a point sufficientlypast the time in whichthe antitheatricalism the sixtieswas compellingthat we now of feel confident in discussingthe new theatricality.The king is dead, so to speak;long live the king. Therecan be no questionthat we have witnessedan aesthetictransition,a shift in artisticparadigms,if you will. How can this be explained? The first explanation that comesto mindis somewhatcynical, although not altogetherunreasonable.It goes like this: a brief look at the historyof what we shall call quot;danceart in the modernperiodquot; revealssomethinglike a cyclicalstructure,in whichepisodesof thea- tricalismare followed by episodes of antitheatricalism which, then, are followed by renewedclaims for theatricalism.7 The cynicalview suggeststhat dancehistoryis like a dog chas- ing its own tail; theatricalism followed by antitheatricalism, is which is followed by theatricalism to changemetaphors,a constantre- in, inventionof the wheel, as successive generationsrediscover dance that is theatricalor that it is not theatrical,dependingwhereone situates oneself in the cycle. The explanationof why we presentlyfind our- selves amid an epoch of theatricalism simplythat the best articu- is latedview of what was perceivedto be the dominanttendencyof the precedingperiod-whether or not this view was reallyaccurate-was antitheatricalism. accountis cynical,of course,becauseit repre- This sentsdancehistoryas a continuingfailureof imaginationor, at least, of self-consciousness. In orderto flesh out the cynicalview, let us begin in the eigh- teenthcentury,wherewe find JohnWeaverandJean-Georges Noverre attempting securea place for dancein the systemof the artsby ad- to vocatingthat danceforsakeits ornamentalism airsand becomean and art of imitation.Noverre,for example,writesthat quot;A well-composed balletis a livingpictureof the passions,manner,customs,ceremonies and customs of all nations of the globe .. .quot;8 And, he argues, ballets
  • 320 DANCE CHRONICLE mustbe devisedwith actionin orderto achievethis purpose.9 other In words,dancemustbecometheatre-ratherthana collectionof charm- ing steps-if it is to be taken seriously. However, despite the authorityof Noverre and his case for dance theatricalism,a minorityposition, which was at times to be- come a majorityposition, gradually arose, whichdiscountedthe nar- rative, mimeticconceptualization the dance and which advocated of that dance be thought of primarily terms of movement.In 1837, in in a reviewof FannyElsslerin the partof Alcinein La Tempete, Theo- phile Gautierdeclaims,quot;After all, dancingconsistsof nothingmore than the art of displayingbeautifulshapesin gracefulpositions and the developmentfrom them of lines agreeableto the eye; it is mute rhythm,music that is seen. Dancingis little adaptedto rendermeta- physicalthemes.quot;'?(Undoubtedly, thereis some ironyin the fact that this quotation can be and has been cited as a reactionto Noverre's aesthetic,eventhoughthe Romanticballet, of whichGautierwas the major apologist, was a kind of ballet d'action.) Thisline of criticismwouldeventually givenits most power- be ful expressionby Andre Levinson, who regardedNoverre'sbrief as quot;Aristotelian but sophistry,quot;and who, claimingnot only Gautier also Stephane Mallarmeand Paul Valeryas fellow-travelers,maintained that the essentialcore or appreciativenerveof dancewas movement.quot;1 In what must be read as the exasperation a proponentof what we of now might call pure dance with the theatricalstanceof Noverreand his followers, Levinsonwrites: I can not think of anyonewho has devotedhimselfto those character- istics which belong exclusivelyto dancing,or who has endeavoredto formulate specifically the laws of this art on its own ground .. . [N]o one has evertried to portraythe intrinsicbeautyof the dancestep, its innate quality, its esthetic reason for being . . . it is the desire of the dancerto createbeautywhichcauseshim to makeuse of his knowledge of mechanicsand that finally dominatesthis knowledge.He subjects his musclesto a rigiddiscipline; througharduouspracticehe bendsand adaptshis body to the exigencies an abstract perfectform. 2(em- of and phasisadded) The rejectionof the conceptionof danceas a variantof thea- tricalimitation,a rejectionthat was voicedby the Gautier-Mallarme-
  • THEATRE,DANCE AND THEORY 321 Valery-Levinson line, is echoed, although from somewhatdifferent philosophicalstartingpoints, by theoristsconcernedto defend what is calledmoderndance,suchas JohnMartinand Susanne Langer.'3 K. Both are committedto expressiontheoriesof art. Both see the sub- stanceof dance in expressivemovement,which Martincalls quot;meta- kinesisquot;and whichLangerlocatesin virtualpowers.For Langer,that the scope of danceproperis delimited the domainof whatshe calls to virtualpowersexplicitly distinguishes fromthe drama,whereas it Mar- tin's view-that the arrangement dance forms is dictatedby quot;the of logic of innerfeelingquot;-signals a necessarydeparture from the regu- lative standardof theatricalimitation(insofaras the logic of feeling is differentfrom the logic of action). Moreover,not only can we chart a consistentlyreappearing antitheatrical reactionto the conception of dance as theatre at the level of theory, but there is also a recurring rhetoricalfigure in the history of dance in which innovationsare introducedby castigating establishedforms of dance, chargingthem with havingbecomeossi- fied in staidand outmodedconventions theatricality. of ThusJacques Riviere, in an expressionistpaean, defines Nijinsky's achievement againstthe artificeof Fokine.14 And undoubtedlyone suspectsthat YvonneRainer, at least in part, is an inheritorof this polemicalgam- bit. But at the sametime it has also been possibleto mobilizethe au- thorityof theatricalimpact againstthe aestheticof pure movement, construed mereornamentalism, MichelFokinealso does in order as as to distinguish himselffromwhathe notatesas quot;the so-called'classical ballet.' quot;1 Recall Fokine's rule (his term) that quot;dancing and mimetic gesturehave no meaningin a balletunlessthey serveas an expression of its dramaticaction, and they mustnot be usedas a meredivertisse- ment or entertainment, havingno connectionwith the schemeof the whole ballet.quot;'6 This cursory,althoughI believe not tendentious,'7 reviewof the polemicsof dance historyaffords some groundsfor what I have calledthe quot;cynicaltakequot; on the contemporary resurgence theatri- of calismin dance. Undeniably,there is a kind of antiphonalstructure in which the voices of theatricalism answeredby those of anti- are theatricalism,and vice versa. But a closerview of whatis involvedin these exchanges,I think, will demonstrate that more is involvedhere than a battle between Tweedledeeand Tweedledum,and, further-
  • 322 DANCE CHRONICLE more, that the currentvogue of theatricalism danceis not just the in same old refrain. Althoughone mightsimplymapthe significantdancetheories of the past into alternativecategoriesof theatricalism and antithea- tricalism, careful attentionto these theories indicatesthat they are not merelyinvolvedin monotonousrepetition.When Noverrecalled for danceto become a speciesof theatricalimitation,he was operat- ing withina theoreticalcontextin whichthe reigningtheoryof art de- fined art as mimesis.This view-obviously inheritedfrom Plato and, especially,Aristotle-was advanced Noverre'sown time by Charles in 8 Batteaux. For Batteaux, every art sharesthe same essentialfunc- tion, namely,that of imitation,specificallyof the beautiful.Thus, in orderfor danceto be considered eligiblefor membership the system in of the fine arts, it too had to becomean art of mimesis.Thus, it was hardlyan accidentthat Noverreclamoredfor dance as a speciesof theatricalimitation.19 had virtuallyno other theoreticaloption He for advancing causeof the dancein a philosophical the context,where anything that was to count as art had to be mimetic. Moreover, Noverre's theorywasdeveloped beforethe powerful medium-specificity theoryof thinkerslike Lessingtook hold; accord- ing to this newertheory, as it was expanded,each genuineart form was expectedto have a domainof uniqueeffects, often identifiedin termsof what said art form was thoughtto represent best. Underthis dispensation,construingdance as a form of theatre,as Aristotleand Noverredid, would theoreticallyundermine statusof dance as a the genuineart form. However,as already noted, Noverredid not operate underanything Lessing'smedium-specificity like constraint.Thatsub- sequent dance theoristsoften did accounts for their tenacious anti- in theatricalism contrastto Noverre'sseemingly unworried theatrical- ism. For Noverre,therewas no theoretical in liability thinking dance of as havingsimilar goalsto theatre its pursuit the imitation action. in of of If a theoryof art as mimesisstandsin the background No- of verre'stheory, it is thinkingderivedfrom ImmanuelKant's The Cri- that tique of Judgement20 decisivelyshapesthe position summedup by Levinson,but also suggested Gautierand Valery.Kant'stheory, by of course, is a theory of aestheticjudgmentsof beauty and the sub- lime.Moreover, although is not explicitly theoryof art,it canbe and it a was turnedinto one, by theoristslike Clive Bell,21by stipulating that
  • THEATRE,DANCE AND THEORY 323 artworksare designedto elicit aestheticresponses,understood-fol- lowingKant'sanalysisof beauty-as the agreeable,disinterested play of our cognitiveand perceptualfacultiesin responseto form. In con- trastto theoriesof art derivedfrom Aristotleand Batteaux,this sort of Kantiantheory is not essentiallymimetic.Thus, as one would ex- pect, imitationis not a centralfeatureof art here; formalpatterning is far more important. Spacedoes not allow for a completedemonstration the de- of gree to whichthe Gautier-Mallarme-Valery-Levinsonis dependent line on Kantianinfluences. (This is not to say that these dance theorists necessarilyread Kant, but ratherthat Kantianideas suffused nine- teenth-and twentieth-century thinkingabout art.) But let me make a few suggestionsabout why I think that a kind of Kantianism informs their perspective.Not only does the theme of the primacyof pattern runthroughtheirdiscussion,but also Valery'sinsistenceon the quot;dis- utilityquot; of the dance and its independencefrom practicalconcerns corresponds the Kantianpresupposition responses the beau- to that to tiful are disinterested.22 Mallarme's of attribution salutary ineffability to the dancesymbolcorrelates the Kantian to convictionthatthe beau- tiful is not subsumable undera concept.Similarly, Gautier's emphasis on the agreeableness dance movementsto perceptionlocates the of source of value in the dance in terms relevantto classic theories of beautyof the sort that correlateto Kant'sproject, whereasnot only Levinson'sstresson the importanceof form, but also his analysisof the aestheticsignificanceof classicform in termsof its capabilityfor generating systematicallyinfinitemovementvariety23 invokethe unity- amid-variety formula for beauty that is explicit in Kant's sources, such as FrancisHutcheson, and arguablyimplicit in Kant's theory as well. Applyingsomething Kant'stheoryof the aesthetic dance like to resultsin a formalisttheoryof the dancesomewhat akinto CliveBell's theoryof significantform with respectto painting.Dance is a source of value becauseof the aestheticallycompellingmovementpatterns it affords, irrespective whetheror not those patternsare represen- of tationalor mimetic. In fact, mimeticconstraintson the dance or at- temptsto makethe dancea vehiclefor ideasmighteven-and presum- ablyin Levinson'sview actuallydid-interfere with the play of form.
  • 324 DANCE CHRONICLE as Historically, the nineteenth century turnedinto the twentieth century, mimetictheoriesof art fell into increasing disrepute.For ex- ample, as paintingturnedawayfrom the projectof representing real- ity, perhapsas a resultof the adventof photography,it becamemore and more apparentthat mimetictheoriesof art wereno longercom- prehensiveenough to accommodatethe data.24Formalisttheories dependent Kant's-such as Bell'stheoryof significant on form-gained attractiveness. Formalism represented, to speak, a successorto the so imitationtheory as the resultof momentouseventsin the art world, wherethe significanceof imitationwas demotedwith respectto fine art. In this context, Levinson'sattackon theatricalimitationfor the sakeof formalmovementvaluescan be readquiteeasilyas an attempt to bring dance aestheticsin line with what was emergingas a central perspectiveon the natureof fine arts. If formalismwas one responseto the declinein the prestigeof the mimeticconceptionof art, expressionism also an alternative, was rivaltheory of art.2 Whereasimitationtheoriesassignedart the role of portraying outerworldof natureand action, expression the theor- ies saw art as a vehiclefor clarifyingthe innerworld of feeling. This view found philosophicalrepresentatives personssuch as Leo Tol- in stoy and R. G. Collingwood,26 practicalrepresentatives move- and in ments like Germanexpressionism moderndance-with a figure and like MaryWigmanservingas a bridgebetweenthe two. Martinand Langer,of course, can be readilyinterpreted extendingthe expres- as siontheoryof artto dance.Theirown sharpdistinctions between dance and theatre,construedas mimetictheatre,undoubtedlyderivefrom theirview that expression requiresstylizationor, at least, a departure from the straightforward of representation reality, along with their commitmentto the sort of medium-specificity constraintsalludedto above. In Rainer'scase, antitheatricalism also a functionof her en- is dorsementof a theoryof art developed,so to speak, elsewhere.This wasthe theoryof modernism, whichwas advanced ClementGreen- by bergandMichael and Fried,27 whichdominated American world the art fromthe late fortiesthroughthe sixties.It conceivedof art as a form of critique.Specifically,the role of art was to disclosethe conditions of possibilityof its own existence.For example,with respectto paint- ing, JacksonPollock was thoughtto have achievedthis by contriving
  • THEATRE,DANCE AND THEORY 325 worksthat broughtto the viewer'sattentionthe fact that the essen- tial constituentsof paintingwereline and color. Otherpainterswere applaudedfor exemplifyingthat, in one sense, paintingsare essen- tially flat. This modernisttheory of art was explicitlya rival of mimetic and expressiontheories.Mimetictheoriesof art celebrated repre- the sentationof the world, whereasfrom the modernistperspective, this was illusionistic,in the pejorativesense of quot;illusion,quot; and it was the task of modernisttheoryand practiceto unmaskthis-to revealthat, for example, paintingswere really flat surfaces.Nor was expression the centralvalue in art; critiquewas. JacksonPollock was not an ex- istentialisttracinghis inner life on the canvas, as the label Abstract Expressionist might suggest;he was more in the natureof a pheno- menologistrevealingthe natureof all painting, in part by radically subvertingour expectationsof paintings. Modernismof this sort could be called a type of formalism. But the formalismof Greenberg divergedfrom that of Bell insofaras it was drivenby a cognitivepurpose, ratherthan by a disinterested delight in pattern. Moreover, since that cognitive purpose was the discoveryof essentialfeaturesof a given art form, the enterprise was unavoidablymediumspecific. A paintingthat was theatricalshirked the responsibilityof seriousart; by extension, so would a theatrical dance. Rainer'sreliance at leastcertain the tenetsof Greenbergian on of modernism evidentin her famousanalysisof her dance TrioA, in are which she discussesher quot;minimalisttendencies.quot;28 referenceto The minimalism here, of course, refersto the then-leading movement art in New York, which, though not celebrated Greenberg, by depended on his notions that art was a form of critiqueand that integralto that critiquewas anti-illusionism. Applyingthis model of critiqueto the dance, Raineridentified movementas its essentialfeature.Character-fromthis perspective- a represented varietyof illusion;dancesweredesignedin such a way as to compelthe audienceto attendto the performance movement of as such, eitherby meansof movements constructed defeatthe search to for representation, allusion,metaphor,or expressionor by meansof everyday movements,such as walking,that werepresented as imi- not tations of walkingbut as literalexamplesof it. In this light, Rainer's
  • 326 DANCE CHRONICLE antitheatricalism not, for instance, a repetitionof Mallarme'sor is Levinson's, rather but in originates an altogether differenttheoryof art. What I hope that this second, admittedlyhurried,reviewof the cases for and againsttheatricalism suggestsis that, pace the cyni- cal view of the discursive historyof dance,we havenot been recycling the same dance/theatredebate for two centuries.For example, al- though Levinson and Rainerare antitheatrical, they are not so for the same reasons. Rather,if this reviewof the historyof salientmo- mentsin the history dancetheoryis compelling, of whatseemsto emerge as a striking regularity from our examples that our most memorable is perspectives the dancehave as a shared,recurring on featurethe con- sistentattemptto bringour thinkingabout danceinto alignmentwith the most influential, often successivelyreigningtheories of art that our culturehas producedsince the eighteenthcentury. How dance theoristsline up with respectto the relationof theatreto dance de- pendson the conceptualconstraintsof the art theorythat they bring to the questionof the dance. We have not been havingthe samecon- versationabout the relationof theatreand dance for two centuries; the conversationhas changedradicallyas the discussioncame under the influenceof successiveand often rival theoriesof art. If this hypothesis right-that is, if our thinkingand discourse is about dance is intimatelybound up with reigningart theories-does this hypothesisshed any light on the new theatricalism dance? I in think it does. For at present,we againfind ourselvesamida powerful in sea-change our waysof thinkingabout and theorizing One way art. to locate that changeis to note brieflythe degreeto whichthe sort of modernistprojectarticulatedby Greenberg and practicedby Rainer in the sixtiesis currentlyunderfire. Underthat conception,the arts werethought to have essencesthat wereto be broughtinto the fore- groundby critique.But the most vocal art worldvoices in theoryand in practicefor the last decade and a half have been antiessentialist, agitatingfor artisticpluralism,for interactionamong art forms and for mixed media. The view that art forms can be essentiallydemar- catedhas becomesuspect;processessuchas narrative representa- and tion are thought to cut acrossthe boundariesof media. In this con- text there is no reason to think that the combinationof dance and theatreis some sort of flagranthybrid-all artis thoughtto be hybrid, just as everytext is thought to be intertextual.
  • THEATRE, DANCE AND THEORY 327 Moreover, modernist essentialism,like Kantian formalism, was hermetic.But neitherthe attractiveness even the plausibility nor of regarding in isolation from the rest of realitycommandswide- art spread allegiancenowadays. The conviction that art is ideally con- tentlessor at most has as its contentart for its own sakeseemsintellec- tually out of fashion, givingway to an alternative view that art is and shouldbe about something.Appliedto dance, this predisposes chor- eographers towarda willingness makeworkthat has subjects,such to as sexuality,gender,ethnicidentity,alienation,power, emotion, and even politics. Moreover, this concern with content naturallysends choreographers with renewedinterestto the resourcesof theatre-to language,enactment,and operafor example-for the requisite means of expression.29 Of course, one theme-perhaps as the resultof the influence of semioticsand post-structuralism-thathas come to dominatecon- temporarythinkingabout the arts is that of representation. Indeed, one might say that in recent years, aestheticshas been replacedby semiotics,conceivedof, in largemeasure,as the theoryof representa- tion. And whereasmodernistartistswere concernedwith exploring the essentialconditionsof art, artiststoday appearobsessedwith the natureof representation, witnessedby the proliferationof the art as of allusion, spectacle, and pastiche often referredto as postmod- in ernism.But, again, for the choreographer participate this move- to ment virtuallymandatesa returnto theatreand its modes of repre- sentation.(In some cases, this may involvewhatcan be thoughtof as a direct use of representation, whereasrepresentations may also be quoted by postmodernist allusionists,such as KaroleArmitage,who reproduced sado-masochistic in iconography her 1985 Watteau Duets for the ostensiblyfeministpurposeof subvertingthem.) In sum, then, the emergenceof a new theatricalism dance in in both practiceand theory accords with our hypothesisabout the evolvingconversation aboutthe dance.For the newtheatricalism and the waysthat areavailable us to describe to endorseit arelinked to and with an emergingparadigmof our conceptionof art, one that con- ceives of art pluralistically,that is antiessentialist,nonisolationist, semiotic,and concernedwith representation. Thistheoreticalcontext is not only coeval with the new theatricalism dance, but congenial in and conduciveto it. As in the past, our ways of talking about and
  • 328 DANCE CHRONICLE makingthe dance have evolved in tandem with the developmentof new ways of conceptualizing in general. So, in fact, the cynic is art wrong. We have not revertedto the same old tiresomeconversation. in The theatricality contemporary dance heraldsan entirelynew dis- cussion. It is worthwhile,I think, to make one last, subsidiarypoint. A frequent,self-deprecating complaintmadeby loversof the danceis that they are embarrassed what they feel is the intellectualback- by wardness the conversation of aboutthe dance.Dance,they feel, always lags behindthe rest of literateculture.However,if the overviewof- feredhereis persuasive, mightbe usefulto reassessthis low opinion it of the place of dance in the ongoing conversationon the arts. For if whatI have saidis correct,then to a perhapssurprising degree,dance has been and continuesto be more or less in tandem with our best conceptionsof art in general.The new theatricalism in this light, is, our latest example. Notes 1. This paperwas originallygiven as part of quot;The TalkingBody: A Conferenceon Theaterand Dance,quot; Rome, 1990. 2. For an accountof the Judsonmovement,see SallyBanes,Dem- ocracy's Body: Judson Dance Theater 1962-64 (Ann Arbor: UMI Press, 1983). 3. Yvonne Rainer, Work 1961-73 (Halifax and New York: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and New York UniversityPress, 1973), p. 51. This statementwas first in published Tulane DramaReview,Vol. 10, No. 2, Winter1965. 4. Ibid. 5. Rainerinserteda parentheticaldisclaimerbetweenthe two state- mentscited here,whichreads:quot;(Thisis not to say that I person- allydo not enjoymanyformsof theatre.It is only to definemore stringently rulesand boundariesof my own artisticgame of the the moment.)quot; 6. This movementis documentedin Sally Banes, Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance(Boston:HoughtonMifflin, 1980).
  • THEATRE, DANCE AND THEORY 329 7. Where the terms quot;theatricalismquot;and quot;antitheatricalismquot; are relativeto historicallyspecific dance worlds. 8. Jean-Georges Noverre, quot;LetterII,quot; in Dance as a Theatre Art, editedby SelmaJeanneCohen(NewYork:Dodd, Mead& Com- pany, 1974), p. 59. 9. Jean-Georges Noverre, quot;Letter I,quot; in Whatis Dance?, edited by Roger Copeland and MarshallCohen (New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 1983), p. 11. 10. TheophileGautier, The RomanticBallet as Seen by Theophile Gautier,translated CyrilW. Beaumont(London:Beaumont, by 1932;reprintof 1947ed. New York: Dance Horizons, n.d.), p. 17. 11. See Andre Levinson, quot;The Idea of the Dance: From Aristotle to Mallarme,quot;in Whatis Dance?, pp. 51-4. See also, Stephane Mallarme, quot;Ballets,quot; Whatis Dance?,pp. 111-14and Paul Val- ery, quot;Philosophy of the Dance,quot; Whatis Dance?, pp. 55-65. Levinsonwrote as well a brochureentitledPaul Valery,Philos- opher of the Dance (Paris, 1927). 12. Andre Levinson, quot;The Spiritof the ClassicDance,quot; in Dance as a Theatre Art, p. 113. I am not surethat the perhapsrhetori- cal and, therefore,exaggerated assertions hereaboutthe lack of previous attentiveness the valueof puremovement the dance to in is perfectlyconsistentwith Levinson'scitationof Gautier,Mal- larme,and Valeryas predecessors his quot;The Ideaof the Dance: in From Aristotleto Mallarme.quot; 13. See especially John Martin, The Modern Dance (New York: Dance Horizons, 1972);SusanneK. Langer,Feelingand Form (New York: CharlesScribners and Sons, 1953). Some may ob- ject to my interpretation Langer a defender modern of as of dance, althoughI think that it is fair to place her historically way. this 14. JacquesRiviere,quot;Le Sacredu Printemps,quot;in Whatis Dance?, p. 119. 15. MichelFokine, quot;Letterto 'TheTimes,'July6th, 1914,quot;in What is Dance?, p. 258. 16. Fokine, p. 260. 17. It is true, as my footnotes undoubtedlyindicate,that I derived these examplesprimarily thinkingabout selectionsof dance by
  • 330 DANCE CHRONICLE history, theory, and criticismthat are most frequentlyantho- logizedin popularreaders.For some, this may seemto beprima facie evidencethat my sense of dance historyis tendentious.I, on the other hand, think that these anthologies,and the reap- pearanceof certainarticles,authors,and viewsin them, offer us the best picture of dance's conception of itself at the present time. After all, it is through such selectionsthat risinggenera- are tions of dancers,critics,and seriousappreciators introduced to the lore of the field. Although such selectionsmay ultimate- ly-in accordance withas yet unforeseen of standards accuracy- become historicallysuspect,they are at presentfundamental to our appreciation/conception the of dance.Thus, I do not believe that relianceon them is tendentious.Rather,they are the ideal place to look when speculatingabout how we think about the dance. In a certainsense, there is no other place to look for a sense about how quot;wequot; conceivethe dance. 18. CharlesBatteaux,Les Beaux arts reduits a un memeprincipe (Paris: Saillartet Nyon, et veuve Desaire, 1773). 19. On the relationof Batteauxand Noverre,see FrancisSparshott, Off the Ground:First Steps to a PhilosophicalConsideration of the Dance (Princeton:PrincetonUniversityPress, 1988),pp. 145-52. 20. ImmanuelKant, The Critiqueof Judgement,translated J.C. by Meredith(Oxford:ClarendonPress, 1952). 21. See Clive Bell, Art (London: Chatto and Windus, 1914). For analysisof this type of theory, see Noel Carroll, quot;Clive Bell's Aesthetic Hypothesis,quot; in Aesthetics, edited by G. Dickie, R. Sclafani,and R. Roblin.2nd ed. (NewYork:St. Martin'sPress, 1989).For a diagnosisof the influenceof this sort of theorizing, see Noel Carroll, quot;Beautyand the Genealogyof Art Theory,quot; PhilosophicalForum (forthcoming). 22. Valery, quot;The Philosophyof Dance.quot; 23. Levinson, quot;The Spiritof the ClassicDance,quot; p. 115. 24. See, for example,ArthurDanto, quot;TheEnd of Art,quot; in ThePhil- osophicalDisenfranchisement Art (NewYork:Columbia of Uni- versityPress, 1987). 25. Ibid.
  • THEATRE, DANCE AND THEORY 331 26. For a thoroughaccountof expression theories,see FrancisSpar- shott, The Theoryof the Arts (Princeton:PrincetonUniversity Press, 1982), chaptersXI and XII. 27. See ClementGreenberg, and Culture Art (Boston:BeaconPress, 1971), and MichaelFried, ThreeAmericanPainters(New York: Garland, 1978). 28. See YvonneRainer,quot;A QuasiSurveyof Some 'Minimalist' Ten- denciesin the QuantitativelyMinimalDance ActivityMidstthe Plethora,or an Analysisof Trio A,quot; in MinimalArt: A Critical Anthology, edited by GregoryBattcock (New York: Praeger, 1968). 29. From the opposite direction,dramatists and directorsare inter- ested in the deploymentof dance movement for undercutting the impressionof naturalism.