The role of a choreographer is to work with dancers in developing ideas into a finished performance. The tasks of the choreographer have changed with the introduction of dramaturgy with there being a more reflective approach to creating the performance. Australian Dance Theatre’s artistic director, Garry Stewart remarked “Previously choreographers were potentially more lazy [conceptually]”, “a hangover from ballet, where you might listen to the music, look at the image and create from there”. Contrastingly, the choreographer now may adopt a process in which the choreographer and dancers work together to provide a performance that is new and innovative.
In the text Dramaturgy in Motion, the role of the choreographer is discussed in terms of the shifts that have been made due to dramaturgy. While before the choreographer was seen as the all-knowing authority instructing the dancer to move in specific ways, with the presence of dramaturgy this approach as changed. The choreographer has become the generator of questions that can then be answered by the dancers in the way they move making the choreographing process more interpretive rather than instructive. Dance became a field of knowledge. This process was conceptualized when Pina Bausch in her 1977 piece posed questions to her dancer which they were to answer through movement and speech.
This part of the reading appealed to me as I believe that it was the dawn of more personal dance, dance with true meaning. I found it interesting as having started both hip hop and ballet recently, I was able to apply this concept to my two very different choreographers. My hip hop instructor had adopted a more traditional approach where he directed the movement completely giving us a sequence of steps to follow. Alternately, my ballet instructor had a far more reflective approach where she would spend large amounts of time creating these images around the feeling of the piece. She put less emphasis on the dance as a technique and rather focused on dance as a medium through which one can express feeling and pass on knowledge. Both classes were very fulfilling but very different and after reading about the choreographer, I know understand a little better how and why they chose to go about teaching us in a particular manner.
Works CitedAmerican Association of Community Theatre Accessed 5 Jan 2018. https://www.aact.org/choreographer. Behrndt, Synne. 2010. "Dance, Dramaturgy and Dramaturgical Thinking." "Dance, Dramaturgy and Dramaturgical Thinking." Contemporary Theatre Review 20. no. 2: 185-196.
Your response was very attuned to changes in the collaborative process where there was a switch from a choreographer making a dance “on” an dancer and making a dance “with” a dancer. I would challenge the notion of “true meaning” for all is subjective and there could be valid meaning in the other process. But what happened in dance is that the dancer/choreographer relationship gave more autonomy of interpretation to the dancer, within the structure of engagement that the choreographer proposed. So rather than beginning even knowing what the dance is, together the two (or more if there are more dancers) explore what the collaboration can bring to the ideas the choreographer proposes. It is a scene where I think what you call “true meaning” is really a form of radical recognition – or attempting to recognize the desires and qualities of the other, to use those capacities and express them through the dance. The Bausch model recognized dancers as thinking bodies – and in the example of the West African dancers Profeta offered us as readers, those thinking moving bodies are also enmeshed in cultural and spiritual practices that are expressed through movement. To choreograph with those dancers, one has to become aware of how they consider dance as a social and spiritual engagement and have respect for that approach to dance. Everything is not available to aestheticize for the appreciation of a concert audience.