Dance

Authored by: Derek McCormack

The Ashgate Research Companion to Media Geography

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409444015
eBook ISBN: 9781315613178
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042822

10.4324/9781315613178.ch6

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Abstract

When we think of the relation between dance and media, one of the first things that might spring to mind is the depiction of dancing bodies in cinema, on TV, and, more recently, on the Internet. Many of us follow dance-based competition shows on TV, and find ourselves unable to resist watching amusing dance clips on YouTube. And yet, while dance is portrayed and depicted in a range of popular media practices, it is also frequently affirmed, particularly by professional dancers, choreographers, and those who write about dance, as an activity that in some sense has an existence prior to and independent of its incorporation by media practices. In other words, dance is characterized by a kind of raw, affective, and kinesthetic physicality to which the term media stands in a derivative relation. Consequently, if we think of media as ecologies of technologies and practices that are primarily representational, then we might be forgiven for thinking that dance is badly served by considering it in relation to these ecologies, for it reduces a concern with an activity often taken to be “unmediated” to the question of how that activity is mediated representationally in either analog or digital form. Indeed, we might be forgiven for thinking that the very mediatization of moving bodies runs the risk of undermining the authenticity and immediacy of the lived experience of the space times of dance – whether by dancers or audiences, a concern that is often voiced more widely in relation to the growing incorporation, for instance, of video and digital technologies into the staging and choreographing of live performances (Gieseken 2007). Even if we don’t share or subscribe fully to these concerns or to their theoretical, aesthetic, or political motivation, we must still acknowledge that media technologies and practices transform the space time of dance in interesting ways. And even if we start with the deceptively straightforward proposition that dance “takes place at a particular location and in a particular space” (Hagendoorn 2012: 69), then we have to accept that dance’s mediation transforms these locations and spaces in ways worth investigating.

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