Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Adaptation and Dance Conference

Trinity House, Leicester.
Organised by the Centre of Adaptations, the Adaptation and Dance Conference, was held at Trinity House, De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom, on 2 March 2016, and aimed at opening the debate on the subject. In the introductory talk, the two organisers, Elinor Parsons and Hila Shachar, noted how dance has always been dealing with adaptation and how 2016 represents a particularly fruitful year in that it marks the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, with the Birmingham Royal Ballet restaging of Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Northern Ballet choreographing of Charlotte Brönte’s Jane Eyre.
It  was cold, it rained, it also snowed and was sunny. In this respect, the English weather stood up to its reputation. Finding where the conference venue was, was not easy, but walking in Leicester was a beautiful experience and Trinity House a marvellous and very comfortable place, with nice rooms for the panels and the captivating old chapel for the opening talk and the final round table.

Conference opening.
I was in the panel on “Theorizing Adaptation & Dance”, chaired by Deborah Cartmell, which was thought-provoking and inspiring in terms of ideas and questions raised. Ramsay Burt’s paper, “Dance and Adaptation: Intermediality and Intertextuality”, focused on dance as an art form which develops across space and time in relation to other art forms, like music. He made the examples, among others, of Angelin Preljocaj’s peculiar Romeo and Juliet and Jiři Kylián’s Symphony of Psalms of which he talked of as an adaptation of Igor Stravinsky’s music, an aspect which was brought again up during the discussion. Giannandrea Poesio’s paper, “Adaptation politics: the Risorgimento model”, highlighted the profound tie between nineteenth century Italian ballo and Italian politics. Italy was struggling on various fronts, among whose was achieving unity and these aspects influenced all the arts and contributed to develop a strong political tinge in the production of dance works.
My paper, “This Choreotext Which is Not One: On Dance Adaptation Theory”, was on the choreotext stauts in relation to dance reconstruction and adaptation theory and the last paper, “Dancing Figures. Rhetorical Devices in Dance”, by Begoña Olabarria Smith, dealt with the relationship between rhetorical figures and dance. The debate that followed was intriguing and posed some potential challenges to the field of adaptation studies, the most notable being the possibility for a dance adaptation not to include narrative and what role does the body’s “disruptive presence” play in narrative terms.  

One of the panels.
Other panels I went to presented interesting perspectives, like the one dedicated to “Cultural & Political Contexts” or the one on “Experimental Practitioners”. In the first, Miriam Hasikova's “The influence of the Political Regime on the Ballet Production and Adaptation of the Performances during the Communism in Czechoslovakia”, brought to life a little known but remarkable reality, while in the second, Christophe Collard's “Choreographing Continuity, Dancing Stein”, highlighted the complexity of Stein's work, The Making of Americans, and Juliette Mapp's multimediatic dance adaptation with a focus more on form than content and the consequent deconstruction of binary oppositions.

The final roundtable tied together some of the questions that emerged during the panels, like the relationship between dramaturgy and choreography, the significance of reception and the crucial importance of context for any dance adaptation analysis.

A nice wine drinking followed and then, a group of us, went to the Indian restaurant Kayal to continue talking about the conference in a more relaxed atmosphere.

No comments:

Post a Comment