Figure 1.--Through the 1980s, most boy particiapting in Feises and Irish dance performance performed in kilt costumes.
The subject of globelization of Irish and other dance forms is an important topic to consider. The 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Conference is being held in New York City. One of the papers to be presented is one on Irish dance, "Inventing Tradition: Global Development of Irish Dance". The conference will explore the ways in which dance forms circulate across communities, regions and nations, acquiring new meanings as they travel. While the term "globalization" has gained currency in scholarly debatesof recent years, the dispersion of performance practices is hardly a new phenomenon. Thus, the conference will include both historical and contemporary analyses of dances' migrations. The commercialization of folk styles in shows such as "River Dance" is one aspect of this.
The 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Conference will explore the ways in which dance forms circulate across communities, regions and nations, acquiring new meanings as they
travel. While the term "globalization" has gained currency in scholarly
debates of recent years, the dispersion of performance practices is hardly a new
phenomenon. Thus, the conference will include both historical and
contemporary analyses of dances' migrations. What happens when dances migrate? It is common knowledge that founding figures in European and Euro-American modern dance appropriated Asian movement vocabularies in their choreographies. But scholars are only
beginning to examine the ways in which Latin American, African, and Asian
"folkloric" dance convention has been inflected by European concert dance
training and stage practice--as well as MTV choreographies. By focusing on
the circulation of movement styles, pedagogies and performance conventions,
we hope to trouble some of the categoric distinctions which have tended to
divide dance research: between "Western" and "non-Western," "classical"
and "folkloric," and "ritual," "social" and "theatrical" genres. Arguably, the
histories of many contemporary dance forms are more complex than such
restrictive categories would admit...
Elizabeth Venable is presenting a paper on Irish Dance. Her initial abstract is:
Many attributes of Irish dance commonly considered "traditional" originated
within the last 70 years; they have simply been propagated to such an extent
that they seem to be the only historical standard. Movements presently
considered commonplace or antiquated may have only developed in the past 30
years. Many techniques have been discarded in the search for one global and
more strenuous style. Regional variability has been destroyed in favor of a
common aesthetic and standard; globalization has solidified the chosen
standards. Innovation may now also be a result of the world-wide
commercialization of Irish dance, and the never before existing pressure for
Irish dance to retain economic viability.
Elizabeth poses a series of questions on which she is collecting information.
1.) What is your impression of the effects of popularization upon: dancing style,
Irish dance culture, ethnicity of participants, weakening or strengthening ties to the Irish community, costume, etc.?
2.) What are movements which are obsolete today, but were popular 10, 20, 30 years ago? What are movements which have been recently invented? Please provide descriptions.
3.) Do you think that Riverdance was an anomoly that helped push Irish dance to its current popularity, or do you see a pattern in which the popularity was inevitable?
4.) Do you think that popularization and globalization has helped to decentralize
skill? What is your perception of the level of prominance that American/Australian
teachers have achieved recently? Do you see any increases in the performance
of "foreign"-born Irish dancers on a world level, and do you think that this is
in part an effect of media induced popularity, or do you see it as a phenomenon
which has been building for a while?
5.) Do you think there is more regional variation now or in the past, in terms
of style, steps, skill, etc? Explain.
6.) Do you think that the popularity of shows and Irish dance in media has
been positive for the form? Explain.
7.) Does Irish culture become diluted during the processes of translocation
8.) Do you think that Irish dance has become prohibatively expensive? What
effect might the expense have on Irish dance culture?
9.) Do you feel that shows have influenced: the style of the dance, the intensity of competition, body image, costumes, local performances, etc.?
10.) How have IDTANA, NAFC, etc. rules changed in direct response to the
increased popularity of Irish dance?
11.) How has the fact that one can now look forward to making a carrer out of
performing Irish dance influenced the students' perceptions?
12.) Has the tone of Irish dance changed as a result of popularization,
commercialization, globalization, etc.?
Elizabeth Venable is preparing her paper fpr the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Conference in New York City. She writes, "I am looking for anecdotal and factual help, and would like to have as large a sample of information as is possible. A description of the paper (entitled "Inventing Tradition: Global Development of Irish Dance"), and of the Conference's theme.
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I believe that commercialization and globalization has affected the costumes boys
wear at Feises and step dancing performance. Through the 1980s, most boys in
Ireland, England, America, Australia, and New Zealand wore kilts, especially for
championship competitions. Since "River Dance" and the more main-stream
popularity of Irish dance, most American boys want to dance in long black pants.
I'm not sure if the same trend has taken place in Ireland itself or the other
countries that have large Irish populations where step dancing is popular, but
suspect that there is a similar trend. I note that there has been no similar shift in
Scottish Highland dancing.
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