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A satellite view of dance in the world.
Tendencies, transformations and technology.
Shanghai International Dance Fair, 25/09/2010-30/09/2010, Shanghai, China
 by Alkis Raftis

 

   I must admit that the position of President of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO grants to me the unique privilege of having a global view of dance in the world. I travel to a different country every month to attend meetings of Members, to listen to their comments and to offer suggestions for improvement. Incoming mail to my office amounts to about one hundred messages a day. Our staff includes several experienced specialists who reply; they give me an account of the overall situation in each country, thus I gain an overview of problems, of solutions proposed or applied, of measures taken by governments or federations, as well as of preoccupations by individuals.

   CID-UNESCO is the official umbrella organization for all forms of dance. Its Members in 155 countries are international organizations, national confederations, federations, councils, as well as regional unions of dance teachers, school owners or dancers. In many cities Members have formed Sections of CID-UNESCO who represent our organization, organize events and reply to inquiries in the local language. More and more Sections of CID are founded gradually, our final objective being to transform our structure to a global network of Sections cooperating with each other.

   In China, only 24 Members have joined to this date, which is a tiny number for such a huge country. Among them are the China Dancers Association, the Shanghai International Ballet Competition, the Shanghai City Dance Limited, the Hong Kong Ballroom Dancing Council, the Folkdance Association of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Dance Federation, and the Beijing Dance Academy, to name a few of the institutional Members. We are looking forward to increasing the number of Members in China in order to foster cooperation with their colleagues in other countries. There is a great demand from dance companies, schools and dancers from all over the world to develop contacts with China, to exchange visits and to participate in festivals, meetings or competitions.

    Dance schools, dance companies and even individuals can apply for membership. If someone is nominated by a Member he/she is immediately approved, otherwise he/she applies by sending his/her professional profile for evaluation. It is worth noting that CID-UNESCO itself does not organize any events, it is Sections or Members who organize festivals, competitions, workshops or courses. There are no obligations or rules of conduct, Members are free to take any approach to dance for artistic, educational or research purposes.

   We are careful to give equal importance to all forms of dance, thus one will find among our distinguished Members many professionals active in ballet, folk dance, modern dance, flamenco, tango, belly dance, salsa, Indian dance, ballroom dance, therapeutic dance etc., to name only a few of the countless forms dance takes on local or international level. Also, there is adequate representation of dance teachers, choreographers, performers, organizers, researchers and other practitioners among Members. Even dance photographers, costume makers, lighting designers and other professionals providing services primarily to dancers are accepted to membership.

   Rather than expounding on the numerous aspects and activities of this organization since 1973, I invite you to visit its website at the UNESCO portal www.unesco.org/ngo/cid where they are described in detail. We are proud to have created a special website in Chinese which you can visit too. Our Executive Secretariat will be happy to reply to individual inquiries whether by letter, fax, email or telephone. You can also visit the UNESCO portal to obtain information on the United Nations organization for culture - it is also in Chinese.

   I will go on now to developing each one of the three parts of my short presentation of the general situation of dance in the world: tendencies, transformations and technology. Since I am not familiar with the situation of dance in China, I do not know whether the situation here is similar to the one encountered in most other countries. Every country has its own particular features, so it is very difficult to speak for all countries at the same time. Let us hope that in the future we will have Chinese specialists participating in international congresses of researchers where they can inform us on the particular aspects of dance in China.

    I will refer to no particular country, while trying to adhere to the satellite view stated in the title of my presentation. In this sense, my views are shaped by the situation in a great number of countries, without placing particular importance on a specific form of dance, or a country, or even a continent.

    Among the various forms of dance, the most numerous by far in any country is folk dance. More people practice folk dance than all other forms of dance put together. We make a distinction between folk dance and traditional dance. Traditional dances are strictly local dances practiced since many generations in family celebrations and communal events, while folk dances are traditional dances reworked to be presented on stage for an audience. Traditional dancing is passed directly from one generation to the next, while folk dancing is taught by dance teachers to a folk dance group.  

    Folk dance and traditional dance are in slow decline: less and less people practice them, probably under the influence of television and the modern way of life. On the other hand, they are used extensively as pastime for children, whether in schools or in folk dance ensembles. Sometimes, particular folk dances having undergone stylization cross the borders of the country and become world fashions. Such examples are tango from Argentina, salsa from Cuba, capoeira from Brazil or belly dance from Egypt. These countries enjoy the benefits of a wide publicity and attract the corresponding tourism. Hundreds of thousands of dancers travel to the country of their preference in order to practice their dance.

    Dance tourism is very developed and growing in leaps and bounds. Teachers organize group travel for holidays including daily classes, evening balls, shopping for costumes and music, visits to places of particular interest to dancers. More and more people in rich countries want to use dance as a means of getting to know the culture of a country, combining physical exercise, meeting new people, having a good time in an active way, rather than being entertained by others. The image of the "passive tourist" visiting sites and taking photographs without any real contact with the locals is replaced by the "active tourist" who uses a particular aspect of the country to penetrate its culture and meet its inhabitants. Dance, cooking, architecture, sport, language, music or handicraft as such aspects of a country that attract this new generation of tourists.

    Festivals, workshops and competitions are another aspect of dance tourism. In many countries, the number of dance ensembles travelling abroad to perform in festivals amounts to thousands, that translates to hundreds of thousands of dancers each year. Adding to this the individuals travelling to take part in workshops or competitions, there are millions of persons using dance as a reason to travel to another country.

    Within each country the numbers are even greater. Dance has always been a opportunity to travel, since the ancient times when peasants from all around the province walked or rode for hours to take part in a village's celebration. There is much more dance that does not involve travelling, like going to a dance evening in town, or to a weekly class, or to watch a performance. As a rough rule of thumb, in CID-UNESCO we estimate that at least one dancer in every thousand is a professional; which means that dance is a sizable sector of the economy. Dance is of course an art, but we hear increasingly the term dance industry to denote the contribution of dance in the national economy. In fact, the amount of money spent on dance is considerable and rapidly increasing.

    More and more people are turning towards imported forms of dance. Ballet was historically the first dance form to become international, starting to be exported in the 19th century. It is considered the most elaborately advanced form, and ballet training is regarded as the best preparation for most other forms of dance. In the beginning of the 20th century various popular dances became standardized to form ballroom dancing, widely practiced now in more than 100 countries. Ballroom dancing is so successful that more than twenty international organizations compete to represent it, each one claiming to be its authentic governing body. Tango is now expanding rapidly, to such an extend that Argentina reaps huge economic benefits from exporting music, musicians, dance teachers, costumes and accessories, as well as attracting a large number of tourists dedicated to tango.

    The most spectacular success story is offered by belly dance, or Oriental dance, or more correctly Middle Eastern dance. Born in the Eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, elaborated in the United States, it became within the last twenty years the most successful dance fashion. Many millions of women practice it, schools are sprouting everywhere, more and more night clubs offer it as floor show, thereby creating an ever increasing demand for professional dancers. We estimate that in almost all countries the number of belly dancers doubles every year.

    Another tendency is for schools and festivals to diversify, that is to offer various forms of dance rather than one. Boundaries between forms of dance become blurred as choreographers imitate music composers who fuse different musical idioms. Dancers that reject all rules and roots, claiming total freedom to create and to borrow, call their dance simply modern dance.

    We have spoken above of dance forms being transformed: folk dances from Europe were choreographed to become character dances in ballet, Latin American dances were stylized to be included in the ballroom dance repertory, while ballet dancers tried dancing barefoot without tutus thus evolving towards modern and contemporary dance. These are examples of one form of dance being is transformed to another form. Transformation also is evident and continuous within each form of dance as choreographers strive to present new creations. Even conservative forms like ballet or Indian dance or court dances are subject to internal change in response to the increasing curiosity of the audience and to constant pressure from producers.

    Technology is certainly an accelerating factor of change. Television is propagating new fashions and familiarizing audiences with exotic dances. On the other hand, most choreographies created for TV shows are of low quality; dance amateurs have to search the rare filmed performances from theatres or operas. Video is now an indispensable tool allowing dancers to learn their part easily, choreographers to constitute an array of resources, and spectators to assemble a limitless library at virtually no cost. Video serves also for the selection of companies for festivals, as well as for the selection of dancers for competitions. Video has penetrated the dance industry to such an extent that some have expressed the fear that recorded performances will replace live ones.

    Finally, the internet has brought enormous change within the last ten years. Companies, schools, choreographers and dancers have now their own webside each, containing information, pictures and sometimes video clips. This gives them visibility they could never dream of having before. CID-UNESCO has proudly created the biggest directory in all the arts: 200,000 dance professionals from 200 countries are listed openly there. Anyone can contact anyone, all the dancers of the world are part of a single network. Additionally, there are countless portals catering to specific forms of dance or specific regions; all are free from excesses, free from violence, free from politics, free from perversion. Fortunately, the area of dance constitutes a haven of beauty, of health, of pleasure.

    Among the six arts of the Antiquity, dance has always been limited by the necessity of physical presence of the dancing body - now this handicap is eliminated since a dance scene can be recorded, stocked and distributed world wide. We can say that for the last ten years dance is the art that enjoys the highest rate of growth: every year there are more dance schools, companies, festivals and other events in every country. The main advantage of dance being the absence of language to convey an immediate visual message, more than theater, litterature or poetry, this art can now travel freely across borders to thrill the audiences of the world.

 

                                                                             Alkis Raftis

 

 


 

 纵观世界舞蹈——趋势、转变与技术

 

我必须说,联合国教科文组织国际舞蹈协会主席这一职位给了我一个特殊的优势,使我能对世界各国的舞蹈有全面的了解。我每月都会去不同国家,参加协会成员机构的会议,听取他们的意见,并对他们的发展提出改进的建议。每天,办公室收到的来信多达100来封。我们的员工中,有数位经验丰富的专家负责回信,他们向我提供了每个国家的总体情况。也正是因此,我对各种问题有一个全面的了解,也了解问题的解决方法和实际解决情况,政府或相关机构所采取的措施,以及各人所面对的当务之急。

联合国教科文组织国际舞蹈协会是接纳各种不同舞蹈形式的官方联合组织。它的成员包括155个不同国家的国际组织、国家级联盟、联合会、协会以及由舞蹈教师、学校业主或舞者分别组成的地区性协会和联合会。在许多城市中,我们的会员也成立了国际舞蹈协会分会,作为我们协会的代表,组织活动,并用当地的语言答复有关的询问。国际舞蹈协会的分会数量正在逐步增加,我们的最终目标是将我们的组织结构转变为一个由相互合作的分会构成的全球性机构。

 

目前我们的会员中来自中国的只有24与这样一个大国的规模相比,这个数字是微不足道的。这24个会员中,包括了中国舞蹈家协会,上海国际芭蕾舞比赛,上海城市舞蹈有限公司,香港国际标准舞总会,香港土风舞总会,香港舞蹈总会和北京舞蹈学院等等,我仅略举几例。我们期望增加中国的会员数,以期促进他们与其他国家同行之间的合作。世界各地的舞蹈团,舞蹈学校和舞蹈演员都十分希望与中国同行建立联系,互相访问,并参加艺术节,会议和舞蹈比赛。

 

无论是舞蹈学校、舞蹈团或者是个人,都可以申请会员资格。如果能得到会员的提名,被提名人立刻就能取得会员资格。不然的话,如果个人有入会意愿,也可以提送本人的专业履历,供我方评估决定。值得注意的是,联合国教科文组织国际舞蹈协会本身并不组织任何活动。无论是艺术节,舞蹈比赛,工作坊或者相关课程,主要是由它的分会或会员组织举办。国际舞蹈协会并未规定义务或行为规则,会员可以自由采取任何方式,以艺术、教学或研究为目的,进行舞蹈相关活动。

我们认真对待各种舞蹈形式,给予它们同样的重视。因此,你们可以发现,我们有许多知名度很高的会员,都是各个舞蹈门类的专业人士,活跃在芭蕾,民间舞,现代舞,弗拉明戈,探戈,肚皮舞,莎莎舞,印度舞,国标舞,健身舞等领域。这里,我所提到的仅仅是地区或国际层面中存在的不计其数的舞蹈形式中的少数例子。与此同时,我们的会员中也有许多舞蹈教师,编舞,舞蹈演员,组织者和其他舞蹈工作者。我们也接受舞蹈摄影家、服装制作人员、灯光设计师和其他为舞蹈表演提供服务的专业人士成为会员。

国际舞蹈协会成立于1973年,所涉及的方面和参与的活动都十分广泛。在此,我不多做介绍了,谨邀请各位访问我们的在联合国教科文组织官网下的网站(www.unesco.org/ngo/cid,以对我们的情况有更详细的了解。我们也设立了中文语言的特别网站,同样欢迎各位的访问。我们的执行秘书将很高兴回答来自个人任何形式的询问,无论是信件,传真,电子邮件或是电话。各位也可以访问联合国教科文组织的官方网站,来取得关于联合国文化组织的信息——这也同样是中文的。

 

我的演讲比较简短,它主要是关于世界舞蹈的现状,分三个方面的问题:趋势、转变与技术。因为我不了解中国舞蹈界的现状,所以我无法确知这里的状况与世界上大多数其他国家中人们所遇到的情况是否相同。每个国家都有自己的特色,因此我很难在同一时间代表所有国家发言。让我们共同希望,将来会有中国专家参与到研究人员的国际会议中来。会上,他们可以告诉我们中国舞蹈界的有关情况。

 

因此,在接下来的演讲中,我不会特别以某个国家为例,而是努力围绕我的题目中所提到的“纵观”这个视角来发言。从这个意义上来说,我是在了解大量国家的情况的基础上才形成了自己的观点,而不仅仅特别关注某个特定的舞蹈种类,或某个国家,某个大洲。

 

在数目繁多的舞蹈种类中,在每个国家,最复杂种类最多的始终是民间舞蹈。世界上,跳其他种类舞蹈的人统统加起来也不及跳民间舞的人多。在这里,我们需要区分一下民间舞和传统舞这两个概念。传统舞仅仅是指在家族庆典和社区活动时表演的,经过数代相传的当地舞蹈。而民间舞则是经过改编的并在舞台上向观众演出的传统舞。传统舞蹈直接由上一代传递给下一代,而民间舞则由舞蹈教教授给民间舞蹈团的。

但无论是民间舞还是传统舞蹈,都在逐渐走下坡路:也许是因为电视和现代生活方式的影响,跳这些舞的人已经越来越少。另一方面,无论是在学校或是民间舞团,它们通常只被用来让孩子们消磨时间。有时,特定的民间舞在经过了一定风格变化后,跨越国界,成为风靡世界的时尚,比如阿根廷的探戈,古巴的莎莎舞,巴西的卡波耶拉舞和埃及的肚皮舞。这些国家因此也赢得广泛的宣传,吸引了许多对此有兴趣的游客。有成千上万的舞者为了使自己的舞技得到进步,专门到他们所喜爱的舞蹈发源国去旅游。

目前,舞蹈旅游正迅速发展。舞蹈教师组织学生利用假日进行团体旅游,日程包括了日间课程、晚间舞会、购买舞蹈服装和舞蹈音乐(碟片)以及访问舞者感兴趣的地点。在发达国家,越来越多的人们希望通过舞蹈来了解一个国家的文化,结合健身和交友,用积极的方式来度过美好的时光,而不只是单纯“被娱乐”。“消极游客”的形象通常是访问景点、合影留念,却并不与当地有任何实际接触。现在他们已经被“积极游客”所取代,这类游客通过某个特定的方面来了解一个国家的文化,并和当地居民有更多交流。舞蹈,烹饪,建筑,运动,语言,音乐或是手工艺品等等诸多方面都是一个国家能吸引新一代游客的亮点。

舞蹈旅游的其他重要内容还包括艺术节、工作坊以及比赛。在许多国家,出国参加艺术节表演的舞蹈团体数量之多数以千计,这也就是说每年有成千上万的舞者参加。除了舞者之外,还有参加工作坊和比赛的个人。因此,大约有数百万人因为舞蹈而去另一个国家旅游。

在一个国家,这个数字就更加可观了。古时候,各地的农人为了参加村庄庆典而步行、骑马数小时,舞蹈一直给人们提供了出游的机会。当然,不涉及旅游的舞蹈更多,比如参加镇上的夜间舞会和周末的舞蹈课程,还有观看舞蹈演出等等。凭感觉来说,我们估计在联合国教科文组织国际舞蹈协会中每千位成员中至少有一位专业舞蹈演员。也就是说,舞蹈是一个规模颇为可观的经济部门。当然,舞蹈是一门艺术,但我们也越来越多的听到“舞蹈产业”这个词汇,它表明了舞蹈对于国家经济做出的贡献。事实上,人们在舞蹈上所花费的金钱是十分可观的,并且正在迅速增长。

 越来越多的人把注意力转向了来自异国的舞蹈形式。作为最早传遍国际的舞蹈形式,芭蕾在19世纪便开始被传播开来。它被认为是最为精妙,发展最为高级的一种舞蹈形式。对芭蕾的练习也被认为是对学习大部分其他舞蹈的最好准备。在20世纪初期,许多流行的舞蹈被标准化,形成了国标舞。现在这种舞蹈在100多个国家中流行。国标舞的成功,使有超过20个国际组织在争夺对它的代表权,它们都认为自己才是这个舞蹈形式的权威管理机构。探戈现在也迅速发展,这种发展势头使阿根廷从输出音乐、乐手、舞蹈教师、舞蹈服装和配件,以及吸引大量对探戈十分热衷的游客中获取了巨大的经济收益。

 这些成功故事中,最引人入胜的是肚皮舞的故事,或者说是东方舞蹈,更确切的应该是中东舞蹈。肚皮舞发源于地中海东岸,并在美国得到发展. 最近二十年来,它更是成为了最受欢迎的时尚舞蹈。有几百万的妇女练习这种舞蹈,肚皮舞培训教室也遍地开花。与此同时,也有越来越多的夜总会将其作为歌舞表演。所有这些都造成了对专业肚皮舞舞者需求数量的上升。据我们估计,几乎所有的国家肚皮舞的舞者数量以每年都在翻倍。

 另一个趋势是,学校和艺术节的分工越来越具体,它们提供的舞蹈种类越来越丰富。当编舞模仿音乐作曲将不同的音乐形式融于一炉时,各种舞蹈形式之间的界限也越来越模糊。那些拒绝所有现有规则和传统的舞者,认为在舞蹈中应完全有自由来进行创作或借鉴。他们将自己的舞蹈称为“现代舞”。

 前面,我们已经谈到了一些经过了转换的舞蹈形式:比如来自欧洲的民间舞蹈经过编舞,成为芭蕾中的“性格舞蹈”,拉丁美洲的舞蹈经过风格调整,也被纳入了国标舞的范畴。当芭蕾舞者尝试不穿芭蕾短裙而裸足起舞时,这种舞蹈形式也正在向现代舞或当代舞进化。这些例子说明了一种舞蹈形式向另一种舞蹈形式的转变。当编舞者力图表现新的创作时,一种舞蹈形式内部的变化也是持续且明显的。即使是相对保守的舞蹈形式,比如芭蕾、印度舞和宫廷舞蹈,也要回应观众日益增长的好奇心和制作人的压力,从内部做出变化。

 科技当然加速了变化。电视大力传播了新的时尚,也使观众熟悉了异国风情的舞蹈。另一方面,大多数为电视节目所编排的舞蹈质量偏低;业余舞蹈爱好者需要从剧院或歌剧院努力寻找那些很少播出的演出。但是,影像资料已经成为了舞者较快学习舞蹈不可或缺的工具,编舞者能借此组合成一系列的资源,观众也可以不花分文建立属于自己的一个容量无限的舞蹈资料馆。除此之外,影像资料还能帮助艺术节寻找舞团,也帮助各种比赛选拔参赛选手。影像已经深深的渗入了舞蹈产业中。这种深入的程度甚至使一部分人担心这种录像播出的表演将会取代舞蹈的现场演出。

 最后,我想说因特网也在过去十年中带来了巨大的变化。舞蹈团,舞蹈学校,编舞者或舞者都已经有了他们自己的网站,展示相关信息,图片,有时还会包含视频。这个变化给他们带来了过去完全无法想象的一种可视性。联合国教科文组织国际舞蹈协会创立了所有艺术门类中最大规模的一份名录:有200多个国家的超过20万的舞蹈界专业人士公开登录在这份名录中。任何人之间都能相互联系,世界上的舞者都是同一个网络中的一部分。除此之外,有不可计数的门户为特定的舞蹈形式或特定区域服务;所有这些网络与纵欲放荡无关,与暴力无关,与政治无关,也与心理变态无关。幸运的是,舞蹈的天地组成了一个美、健康与愉悦的港湾。

 在古代六艺中,舞蹈一直受到需要舞者亲自用肢体来表演的限制——现在,这种观念已不复存在。因为一场舞蹈能够被记录和储存下来,并在世界范围内得到广泛传播。我们能够说,在过去10年中,舞蹈是发展最快的一门艺术:每年,每个国家的舞蹈学校,舞蹈团,艺术节和其他活动的数量都在增加。与剧场表演,文学或诗歌不同,舞蹈的主要优势在于所传递的即时视觉讯息并不需要语言。这种艺术能自由跨越国界,并给全世界所有观众带去震撼。

 

Sunday the 17th. Alkis Raftis Personal website.