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“Dancing Through Life”
In February, my Aunt took some family members to go see The Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company. The whole performance was wonderful. As a former dancer in my elementary school days and now a musician and actress, I thoroughly enjoyed the music, set, lights, etc. However, the driving force throughout the performance was the culture.
For this week’s assignment, the “Working With Mediology:From Theory and Hypotheses to Analytical Method” reading it mentions that “Mediology is a method for thoroughgoing, self-reflexive redescription of topics and problems that we have received under the cover of prior descriptions with pre-packaged conceptual metaphors”. I believe that this aligns with The Ailey School because of their ability to “redescribe” dance.
For instance, the traditional code for dance would be ballet. When I was younger, I did ballet for 10 years (I was on point for 4 years). Through ballet, I learned the dicipline of the art form from everything to having the perfect bun (with no frizzy hair follicles going out of place) to elevating to point in the proper way. Sometimes at the end of the year or at a special time of the year during class we could choreograph our own barre work and during the Summer we would have to go to Ballet Summer Camp. Summer Camp consisted of an intensive program where, students learn almost every known form of dance and the history (African, Composition, Modern). In my program, we were also encouraged to learn other dance forms throughout the year so I took Tap and Jazz and then I did figure skating. The point of all of this personal information is the structure. Whether I was dancing to classical music or a popular song, there was alway structure and a way to dance that could not be tampered with.
That’s where The Ailey School comes into the picture. I believe that they have extreme discipline and extreme focus, but they just use another way to display this focus. Instead of relying on one discipline of dance, they fuse multiple areas of dance and they pair these areas with cultural history.
The Mission Statement for The Ailey School is “To make dance accessible to young people and adults through dance training and innovative community outreach and arts-in-education programs”. One of their many goals is to “To train outstanding students as professional dancers by offering a diverse dance training curriculum of the highest caliber.” With the words “a diverse dance training curriculum” we can see how the dance performance is “redescripted”. We know that the dance performance that is “redescripted” is art, but just as Debray asks, we must see how it changes art.
Even though there dance performances can be viewed as a modern dance genre, they still incorporate various characteristics of foundations of dance, yet, they also add an interesting spin of culture and physique. Therefore, the school continuously finds new ways to change and invent new codes of dance, while continuously relying on diversity.
Other areas that I would like to explore:
Meaning of culture in Ballet
Regis Debray, “What is Mediology?” Le Monde Diplomatique, Aug., 1999. Trans. Martin Irvine.