Sunday, July 09, 2006

American Dance Festival: Faculty Concert

Long ago, I came up with a fairly general and abstract definition of art that is relative to the observer and the time of observation - simply something that causes a person to make some interpretation such as triggering an associational memory or to be emotionally moved as a direct result of observing the artifact (I added the emotion part just now). Perhaps a guard working at a museum may be stationed in front of a Picasso, but is daydreaming; that Picasso, by my definition, ceases to be art in that context to that observer. On the other hand, perhaps a person stumbles upon some garbage strewn in the street, and in so doing his mind creates a pattern out of the hodgepodge that reminds him of a visit to a friend's home several years ago, or maybe an abstract philosophical concept. I would, by this definition, call the strewn garbage art.

Dear reader, do take this all with a big grain of salt, as I am not an art theorist. But I bring this up because I wonder if I can come up with a definition of dance. My initial thoughts are that two aspects ought to be covered:
  1. Dance as an activity of entertainment, such as when we dance to music that we like
  2. Dance as a form of expression, often by athletic individuals, that may or may not be synchronized to music or sound at all, and that may or may not be conveying a message

It's a definition of aspect (2) that I would like to come up with. Does it have to be pleasant? I didn't much like several aspects of the ADF Private Parts show a few weeks back, but it was, at least by ADF, called "dance". Also, one person's pleasure may be another's pain, so that's out of the definition. Does it have to involve movement? Probably, though it can include periods of rest.

Anyway, let me motivate where this rambling is going. My wife didn't much enjoy tonight's performance; I thought it was worth attending, but I think the intent was for faculty of ADF to present short pieces, and not collaborate to present any unifying theme. Some of the pieces may stretch individual definitions of dance, hence my wondering.

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