Internet. Market. Choice. Dance. Industry. Sell. Buy. Process.

How has the internet changed dance? For example, music, being primarily affected as the internet marked the exhange of power from the music industry to the common man.

Dance has seen a decrease in audiences. They're all at home watching satellite television, surfing the net, or playing Wii. We are witnessing perhaps the biggest change of all times.

How are we trying to survive?

Are we living in a world where we all have to scream louder to get attention? Or one where we need nearly speak at all - just a quite whisper, and those who want to hear and take part in the discussion naturally fall into contact.

It appears that the evolution of dance is no longer linear.

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I rarely go to dance concerts and I don't feel bad about it anymore. I don't have to go to a concert and sit through hours of dances that bore me like I did last Saturday. There is an explosion of interest in dance, just turn on a television. The public is very interested in dance but not in movement experiments. I recently had a moment where I realized that in high school my interest in dance was fueled not by postmodernism in dance but by Dance Fever, Fame and the Solid Gold Dancers. Then I went to school and learned that it was entertainment and not art. YouTube is replete with dance videos and videos of people dancing so perhaps the question is who is our audience. If learning to like modern dance requires a college degree perhaps we should not be surprised that the general population feels like they don't "get it" when they see us experimenting with time and space and media. Matt Harding of has a sponsor and is traveling around the world dancing and putting his videos on the Internet. People are watching him dance on their iPhones in the subway. Knowing that people are "watching satellite television, surfing the net, or playing Wii" will you take your dance to the people or make them find you in the newspaper. When they come into the theater will you give them something to relate to or expect them to be well versed on Foucault so that they can understand your motivation. When dance is accessible and reflects our time I believe that people will flock to see it.
All interesting points Boris. I share your experience of dance "pre-college." Part of my interest has been keeping that perspective, and trying to make dance that can appeal to the academic dance world and the non. From that standpoint, I found technology to be very useful. I love your distinction between entertainment dance and art dance. I often fantasize that contemporary dance, or modern dance, or whatever... that whole thread of research... would be taught in schools, elementary schools, just the same as teaching rhudiments of music or art. So that movement for movement's sake can be understood by the masses. And there are pros beyond just satisfying an artistic dance creator's need or fantasy of being heard by more than academic dance insiders.
Julie I agree that it would be great if dance was taught in all elementary schools and I think it is required in NC. Part of me fears/wonders if young kids would accept/understand the idea that you can make a dance about movement and part of me knows that they would because they are learning about the world they live in.

Tony thanks for your message. I have seen and enjoyed your work. Part of my response is to a specific event in my life concerning Foucault and I realize that often responses emerge out of context from the subconscious. I agree that performance can enlighten and it is almost better when it does. My response is based on rarely seeing that openness. What if the artist provided a way to understand Foucault and panopticonism before, after or during the performance. That would feel more open to me. We can use the internet and other technologies to communicate with our audiences. The Wexner Center had a William Wegman exhibit and at certain works you could call a number and listen to Wegman talking about the piece. That was amazing for me. Does the dance have to be complete in and of itself to be "good" or should we provide more information so that our audiences don't have to wonder what we are trying to say?
If we talk about modern dance, it has never been a very popular art.
Music had achieved a bigger market long ago with the phonographic industry and the radio. Only on the 60’s started to be more accessible making video register of dance pieces. The distribution was small and the cost high. Still is not that common to find video of dance pieces to buy.
For another side, the dance gets another features when made for a cinematic media or web, and then we can talk about video-dance, telepresence and so on.
I like, Julie, your idea about the non-linear “evolution” of dance. I guess it is what the most of us are busy with. By the way, the concept of evolution is a quite tricky one. I would propose instead to think about transmutation, so that we can look at the dance scenario more positively.
According to professors I’ve studied choreography and history under, modern dance was popular through the 50s and 60s too. If you mean by comparison to other art forms, that is true - especially because other arts were tied to money while modern dance said no to it (at first).

Also, when I said that dance has seen a decrease in audiences, I was vague. I really just meant the performance itself, live. I’m not sure how fixed forms affected audience attendance at shows. Though when a bigger dance artist comes to town, most of the whole art scene shows up, and a few others, as opposed just the inside dance community and their friends and paramours.

Mirella I like your word transmutation. I think that's exactly what's happening. One of my favorite jokes: How many post-modernists does it take to screw in a light bulb? (answer: fish)

Post postmodernism is not about the extreme of finding a right or wrong, all beliefs centered in cold hard facts and linearized rational thought, and its not the opposite, postmodern extreme. Its about gaining clarity or shifting foci on fragments of an overall picture that we accept is sort of mysterious and aloof. Especially after the canon wars.

Technology is a direct enforcement of that. It's given people more choice than ever over what they want - instead of having the remains of all the options sifted out by those with the most money. Sure, the ones with the most money can try harder than others to get our attention, but we have the power to choose what we want. So, in general, we have infinitely more choices of what we want to listen to, look at, and think about or believe than we did 20 years ago - or even less. My life has been lived almost perfectly equally in both the former world and the world of today.

On Boris' website, he says, "Postmodernism has past. We believe in the intelligence of the body, the intelligence of the mind and that the two are impossible to separate. Dance is the result of the physicalized mind and the verbose body and we reject putting the cart of scholarship and language before the horse of dance."

In this situation where dance and society are finding a middle ground, the audience of all arts seems less about who is making the headlines, and more about personal interests. For artists, it is about sharing what they speculate about or work with. Its not about a dominant voice anymore. Its about community. We don’t take those who claim too much authority seriously. They don't acknowledge on the mutability of things. I wonder how this landscape is navigated and why.

Relating this back to the above comments, specifically Boris’ question of who our audience is, perhaps my personal struggle right now, one that provokes me to write and look for responses, is that our audience in dance as art, not entertainment, has slipped into a world of people who love football, beer, movies, clubs, new cars and clothes. I feel that the dance community is buried under layers of hollow, superficial societal ways of engaging with the world.

When the lines between accessibility and popularity are blurred, how do we attempt to sustain our work and why? Many people are giving it away for free – is this a surrender to the idea that our once booming dance audience may or may not care if they stumble upon it? A statement about the relative importance of an audience? An attempt to reclaim the media that have diverted our audiences? A personal choice that rejects the idea of commercialism attached to art?

There are signposts demarcating where artists are going in response to the technology injected world. I wonder why they go there and if it is effective.
I had a conversation last night where I asked if I should be giving my audiences what they want. What I mean is ASKING them what they want instead of telling them what I am doing. I say I can't make work unless it is personal in fact I believe it is only interesting when it is personal. So they should be able to relate, right? If a movie is personal, we don't watch the extra's on the DVD, we just watch the movie and that is enough, isn't it?

I believe that there is another side and some would call it selling out but I think of it as selling. Business make products to sell and they innovate to keep selling and make money. Businesses who don't give people what they want, don't do well and go out of business. Choreographers, however can get critical and audience acclaim and still not make money because our model of producing dance in a theater is incredibly expensive. So I need audiences to fill up the seats and pay big money to see me perform. Can I use the Internet to make money or develop an audience base? Perhaps, if I had time.

I spend so much time making the work that an educational component or a video commercial promoting my work is out of the question. I don't want to show the dance to the audience before it goes on sale because then people would not come to see it in the theater (especially if it sucks) and I would lose money. I think small to maximize profits. I make work fast to save money. I have something to say so my work has to be serious. I don't have time to give the audience what they want, I am too busy doing what I need to do. Entertain them, they can go to Youtube, educate them, that is what wikipedia is for. So given the choice between say a sporting event and my concert they have this choice. Go and be a part of a community where they know detailed information about the players, the game, the stadium, statistics, stratagem, can anticipate results of the outcome as a community or go to my concert where they will be completely surprised by what they see, have only the title to explain the work, interpret the dances according to their private personal experiences and hear that they are supposed to be empowered by that lonely reality. So should I ask my audience what they want or keep telling them what they need to hear? Has the world changed so much that I need to think outside the theater? Should I pay attention to the fact that people are watching videos on their phones and other portable devices. Should I educate them on my process or is my process like everyone else who is "dedicated to human expression" so there is no need to explain.
I'm sitting back and looking at this discussion, and thinking about the questions ... how reassuring this forum is as an example of a community coming together out of choice.

It seems like the primary issues being discussed in this forum in relation to the ideas of market and technology are how they affect the following:

craft of concept
i think you are right julie, but just looking at the notion of 'audience' (for the moment) i really don't think dance-tech (or screendance) really knows who their audience is.

outside of students and other practitioners who really watches or is exposed to our work. boris is right to say that to 'sell' something means producing something people want, or that we can convince them to buy.

but should should not get so attached to the 'theatre' it is often just a box. a black box filled with things. arts can live outside that box.

we also need to realize that many member of the 'public' who might be drawn to the 'tech' or 'screen' in our works have a great deal of knowledge and aesthetic judgment. in a technical sense they our 'peers' in everything expect the 'dance' aspects.

boris implies he is too busy making 'art' to 'craft' his dance for a wider (and perhaps more profitable audience). with the available technologies why not document as you go (focus on your needs) the use the materials to market your work before you perform it.

the notion of 'if it is free on the internet they won't buy it' sounds like the RIAA.

but really we need to find out who does not watch dance, and why not. many of them probably would if they 'thought' it was accessible. just because we seem 'open' from our perspective does not mean we are. and yes, we may need to shift our goals a little to 'sell' but surely we still end up getting paid to work at something we are passionate about.
hello american dancer makers.
this seems clearly an american discussion, since the situation in europe is radically different, even within it, so i don't feel like joining in a debatte about a system that i have little knowledge about. however, i just want to add a little story from an australian dance company called "chunky move". they once made two pieces based on the question: "what does the audience like to see?" they used a national survey, where they asked 2,800 people, what they would like to see on stage and what they wouldnt like to see on stage. and... surprise, surprise... of course the piece that contained all the unwanted material turned out to be much more interesting and successfull with the audience then the wish list of nice things to be seen on stage. hmmm. i wonder what that tells about the desires of the audience....
hello all.

is this discussion about the economics of dance making? about reaching (new, wider) audiences? or about the effect of globalization and IT/online businesses and information on dance making?

I would question some of the premises of the initial forum posting. The audience(s) for dance has not decreased. Naturally, a question like this depends on geographical / cultural and infrastructural contexts. Whenever i go to see a dance concert or festival, in the capitals, they seem very well attended. Specialized festivals are too. Community festivities involving dance are well attended. Millions of people dance. there is a tango club in every city. dance (classes) is offered at schools, at dance centers, at universities, in workshops.
dance videos and music videos are indeed availalbe in growing numbers, on TV, in film festivals, museums, galleries, and on the internet.

The YouTube issue is a separate one, to some extent, perhaps. I am not sure that the disssemination of videos (clips posted on YouTube) has much to do with a discussion of dance making, dance knowledge, dance appreciation, and dance as an art form.
I am not even sure that YouTube (Wikipedia as education forum?, was mentioned too...?) has anything at all to do with art o r entertainment, perhaps we ought to have a debate on the values or usabilities and effects of clips put out on YouTube or the dance tech ning website. If you are debating how to reach and stimulate an audience with new work, work that is experienced live in a theatre (still the plave where most dance is shown, no?), it might be helpful to analyze the differences between experiencing a dance concert, or a musical, or a multimedia play (such as the work of Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, or Sweeney Todd or a Beckett play or the Nutcracker in any town across the land) and clicking on a minivideo on Youtube and seeing it crawl its 3 or 4 minutes forward, with interruptions (depending on your access).....

>>It appears that the evolution of dance is no longer linear.>>

i think it has never been such. not sure that i understand what would be "new" about dance making now, even under the economic or infrastructural conditions briefly discussed above. Some of the posts address this more closely, and mention the expenses it takes to mount a new production, hire dancers, and produce, find a venue that shows our work more than once or twice. One should also mention the time it takes to create new full scape work. Not sure bout video clips, maybe they can be produced quicker. but i'd argue they are also more quickly dissolved, disappeared, and degraded by context (YouTube). The "value" of online as a venue is never questioned here in these discussions, i wonder why.

regards, JB
thank you all for this interesting read!

the question "what do the people want" strikes me as a red herring. its not a question artists need concern themselves with. mtv is , and will be for some time to come, more popular than dance. so what. i like movies, but thats another art form. its not the one many of us here do (and the one i love above all else). like musicians making music, dancers dancing are pretty cool, when they do it right. and i dont think u-tube etc. changes that fundamental fact. video does not make dance accessible in the same way that recorded music has done it for music. call me provincial, but for me dance lives with the performer , in the moment.

julie's questions are good - but i dont think she was talking about marketing strategies. at least, that not how i read it.

"How are we trying to survive?"

well, my own approach is to try not to compete with the digital, media world. no more big screens for me, thank you. no more video projectors - or as little of them as i can help. i used to say "oh, its all a matter of how you implement it", but lately ive become of the opinion that screens of any kind -- projections of any kind -- are antithetical to the live artist.
ok, ok. i know this is crazy. its like saying computers are "out". it makes no real sense since the medium is not the message -- but i dont care! im so sick of those screens! its like using cd's of music to accompany dance, something ive always hated. even vinyl records are better- they are more honest (you can hear the groove), and malleable (a la dj). better still, a musician.

if you get me right, i am not against technology and dance. i do it all the time. its why i joined this group. just some of its applications are, my opinion, askew. and i have trouble equating video things to the live form.

by the way, just for the record, dance audiences are down in some places, up in others. i know cities where dance performances sell out. : )
Hi Robert - thank you for the interesting post. You are right - I was talking survival... and its interesting that so many other topics have sprung up in relation. I am so schitz on these topics... its unfair for a grad student to really know what is not applied. By this i mean that the academic environment is how i have chosen to survive, essentially. being in school i have access to a built-in audience with an intelligent attitude, willing to embrace what work i do. so hearing all of these ideas on survival in the field proves to be one i cannot really comment on... but more or less observe. I, like you, kind of feel some opposition to screens... only because they are overused. Working with 3d animation has brought up some relative concerns about space... there are only 3 dimensions in the physical world (arguably) to work on... and translate, rotate, and scale seem to be about all we can really do.

anymore, i think, its so much a matter of phrasing as to what anyone really wants to do - maybe not necessarily an approach to a new tool. I feel, for example, burnt out on screens a bit too. And I lust for conversation, discussion, analysis in hopes of understanding how others feel - if this is something that can be viewed as a consequence of our art in general, or if this is something personal to me. Hmm. I am just so curious too, as to what others do in response to what they view. And, I also want desperately to address these issues in my next piece... whatever medium i might use.

on the original question? I had a lovely conversation tonight with someone who views internet as a venue that may not be strong enough to support the level of work that goes into what we do - as the volumes of information overshadow each small piece except for a fleeting moment. What to do?


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