The article combines Critical Archival Studies theory about agency and activism with an empirical exploration of dance history in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city. It focuses on Anna Wikström’s Academy for Dance (1930-1965), an education which has not been explored in previous research. A previous member of The Swedish Ballet, Wikström offered her students courses in artistic dance, dance as physical exercise, pedagogy, and social dancing. Thereby, her broad education differed from the narrow, elitist Ballet School at The Stora Teatern. The article accounts for how the collaboration between choreographer and dancer Gun Lund and Astrid von Rosen, scholar at the University of Gothenburg, contributes new knowledge about the local dance culture. It is argued that archival and activist approaches make it possible for more voices, bodies, and functions to take place in dance history. As such, the exploration complements previous postmodern dance historiography (see for example Hammergren 2002; Morris och Nicholas 2017) with a Gothenburg example.
This article represents part of the author’s ongoing empirical study of the Danish brudevals (bridal waltz) tradition recognized by the means of three characteristic conditions: a specific piece of music by Niels W. Gade, a particular group choreography in which a circle of clapping guests slowly move closer to the newlywed couple and a final section of the ritual in which guests cut the tips of the groom’s socks. The purpose of the article is to highlight how current realisations of the dance reveal the brudevals as a dynamic living tradition and to show the complexity of the political implications it can have when dancing it. Drawing on Sarah Ahmed’s affect theory, the article argues that different negotiations of the brudevals naturalise various understandings of ‘Danishness’. The article argues that an alternative contemporary form of the brudevals, which incorporates a montage of international popular dance and music, produces a version of national identity that underlines the notion of world citizenship as a significant part of being Danish. In realisations of the brudevals danced by same-sex couples, a kind of ‘Danishness’ is produced through affect that naturalises and celebrates Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) marriages. Finally, a Turkish-Danish brudevals produces a multiculturalist understanding of ‘Danishness’, which does not conform to a specific national cultural heritage but can encompass several ethnic groups.
In this paper, I reflect on the body–landscape relationship based on my experience with directing and choreographing my dance film Human Habitat in which a dancer takes us on a journey from a sustainable to a destructive relationship with the Arctic landscape. I outline the background and thoughts involved in producing a dance film in the Arctic and analyse the characteristics of the dancer’s bodily interventions with the landscape. I investigate the properties of being embedded in a processual landscape and examine the consequences of these properties for choreographing movement in a landscape. I further outline how the film evokes kinaesthetic empathy and therefore fulfils my intention of bringing the Arctic into people’s awareness. My examination has a phenomenological approach, and I draw on processual theories of landscape, material specificity and kinaesthetic empathy.
Through this I intend to bring again to the attention of practitioners of stage, musical, choreographic and theatrical arts, Merce Cunningham’s contribution to the development of modern choreography. The constant searches of yesterday, today and tomorrow’s artists is and will be a priority for those who want to bring something new and revolutionize art. Today, we distinguish distinctly the phenomenon of transgression of borders between the stage genres, especially between theater, music and choreography. Choreography migrates towards theater and music and theater and music strongly infiltrate into choreography. This emulation intends to create a total show but can still give birth to some artistic experiments where the accent is placed on the very visual interpretation with an excess of body movement and with an acute absence of Thalia’s simple and natural truths. Cunningham’s proposal on the way of assuming the body, the space and the rhythm is another challenge for today’s choreographers. The way of using these aspects and of acknowledging the strange infinity of its possibilities of transcending the communication barriers, reconfigures the body of the dancer as a linguistic entity with values still unexploited. Initiator of the choreographic modernism, Merce Cunningham is still nowadays an important reference for young choreographers.
The contemporary choreographic movement of the 21st century may be viewed as a true patchwork of performance techniques and styles; a build-up of movements taken from established techniques, with elements of drama, ballet, improvisation and other connected disciplines. These challenges may be met only by a multi-technical and multi-stylistic approach in the training of future actors and choreographers. The transition from the everyday body to the theater body is the result of a process based on self-knowledge, documentation and practice.