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Tij NvH v10july08

Tij NvH v10july08

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Published by Ninke van Herpt

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Published by: Ninke van Herpt on Mar 29, 2012
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Sharing the stage: a case study of Tij, a choreography for Dutch professional and amateur dancers
Caroline Ribbers & Ninke van Herpt
This chapter researches the potential of the shared stage, of what can happen when professionaldancers and amateur dancers collaborate on an equal base as dancers in a choreography.The main inspiration for this chapter is the production of 
TIJ 
(translated as ‘Tide’)
 ,
in which six professional and eleven amateur dancers collaborated, which was created by choreographersStefan Ernst and Ronald Wintjens and shown during the 2005 Dutch Dance Festival inMaastricht, the Netherlands. Caroline Ribbers took part as a professional dancer and helpedcreate the related website (www.tijdewebsite.nl) with the intent to share experiences andinsights gained during this project.The intent of this chapter is to take a closer look at the Dutch setting in which collaboration projects with other than professional dancers take place, the benefits for partaking dancers,choreographers and audience and the forthcoming questions. Furthermore, this chapter describes the aims of the Dutch Dance Festival to produce
TIJ 
, the aims of the choreographersto create
TIJ 
, the creation process of 
TIJ 
and the choreographic outcome, from a case study perspective. Finally this chapter addresses some questions and answers related to the project.
 Defining the Dutch focus
 – combined dancer projects in the Netherlands
Working with mixed casts is not new in the Dutch dance scene. In 2001 Ed Wubbe created oneof the first professional dance performances for theatre setting with the
010 B-Boys
for ScapinoBallet, joining forces of the contemporary dance performers with the Rotterdam breakdance pioneers. Krisztina de Châtel has also initiated several collaborations with non-dancers, for example,
Onderstebavo
with her own dancers together with
Vanuit Marlies
, a group undergoingrecovery from mental illness, and
 Zooi
(translated ‘mess’), danced with her own dancers and areal group of garbage collectors (dustbin men), which was performed in the open air. DeChâtels latest combined dancer project
Cirklo
(premiered may 2008) includes professionaldancers, dervishes and twirling girls. Noticeably, most collaborative productions seem to work with either non-dancers, such as garbage men, or experts in certain dance styles which are notavailable for study in the Dutch organised professional dance education system. In a dancescene where the focus is shifting to “Generation Mix”: young makers who, according to Kocken
 
and Tjon a Fon (2006,y.10-nr20, p.9), aim for anthropological and interdisciplinarycollaborations, it can become difficult to define who is the professional and who the amateur. Inthis chapter the definitions of professional and amateur dancers are mostly based on the insightsgained during the production of 
TIJ 
.During the participation in
TIJ 
, differences between amateur dancers and professional dancerswere discussed. In these discussions, the professional dancer was seen as a dancer who, previous to making a career out of dancing, followed a professional dance education. Theamateur dancer has dancing as a hobby, does not get paid for his dancing and has oftenfollowed a less intensive education. Based on these points of view, the following differences between the two groups can be identified: level of dance techniques, differences in bodycontrol, spatial awareness and in the ability to learn dance movements. Professional dancers arecapable of analysing and carrying out body actions faster and this makes them better able to‘translate’ this dance material to their own bodies. Through years of training, professionaldancers have taken these skills to a higher level, compared to amateur dancers.The amateur dancers involved in this project and with the ambition to work on a professionallevel are not to be compared with each and every amateur dancer: there must be a strongmotivation, discipline and commitment to the production, in other words: a professionalattitude. In this chapter the definition of amateur dancers excludes the dancers which have noaspiration to be a dance performer, combined with the willingness and drive to realise thisambition. The amateur dancer with the drive to be a performer has the tendency to look for opportunities to realise this ambition. Hence, the amateur dance scene has the desire to work with professionals, to learn and benefit from those who managed to make their profession out of their hobby, the facilities offered in the professional circuit and the benefits of the existingknowledge.In the Netherlands on governmental level a note of culture is set each four years. These culture plans set the political direction for art funding and general directions for the arts. Recently, in preparation for the new national
Cultuurplan
2009 – 2012, the governmentally issued plan for the arts considering funding and politic stance toward the arts, different advisory texts have been written. The two main texts are
 Innoveren, participeren!
(translated innovate, participate!) by the Raad voor Cultuur, the Dutch advisory board on culture, discussing the general issues of all the arts in the Netherlands and the dance specific
 Dans zichtbaar beter 
(translated
 Dancevisibly improved)
by the DOD section organisation for dance, which based its advise on recent
 
dance sector analysis. In the latter, one of the main issues is, as expressed by Schots (2007,y.11-nr 4, p. 31), ‘the sector wants to discus the different roles the dance artist should for fill insociety, and research how the connection between the professional dance arts and the amateur circuit can be improved.’ This underpins the conclusion that momentarily the professional fieldand the amateur dance circuit are two separate entities, with their own specific sectoorganisations, institutes and even scale of charges considering theatre rent. Although a heavyfocus is put on talent development in
 Innoveren, participeren!
, thus far the collaborative projects focus mainly on receptive and cognitive exchange and art education in stead of  participation on an equal level. In the advisory texts the differentiation is made betweenAmateur Arts, Art Education, Urban Arts and the professional field; where as in the urban arts professionalism is not dependant on institutionalised knowledge, in the amateur circuit the maindifferentiation from the professional seems to be the education and the given that an amateur isnot paid for their performance. Art education strives to pull together the professional and theamateur. In art education the amateur learns from the professional, be it in the form of practicaldance classes or in the informative contacts they make with the, often funded, dance educationdepartment of professional dance companies. But in art education there always remains a power difference; the master and pupil. There are hardly any productions, issued by professionalcompanies, in which amateur dancers are equally integrated with the professional dancer, thatcan be considered professional productions. More often, from the initiative of the amateur sceneand facilitated by institutes supporting the amateur arts such as the national
 Kunstfactor Dans
or the provincial
Centre for the Amateur Arts
, productions which are collaborations between agroup of amateur dancers and a professional dancer or choreographer are set up. These productions are often considered amateur dance productions, regardless of the fact that there isone or more professional participants. Is quality of dancers, number of participants from either the amateur or professional scene or the fact that there is no salary for the amateurs the decisivefactor for making it an amateur production? If a professional dancer engages in a project for which he is not paid, is he an amateur?An unspoken issue in the amateur field is the sense that in the professional field the main focusseems to be on form and technique, which creates the sense that working with amateurs willnever generate a satisfactory product because of their lack of skills and possibilities. Thereforeworking in the amateur circuit takes a different choreographic approach. The choreographer needs to be able to look for the strengths and capabilities of the performer, with an eye for their working possibilities like ability to remember, create and concentrate on dance material. Moreand more professional choreographers in Holland, like Adriaan Luteijn, Helma Melis and Thom

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