Thoughts on ArtsCross (1)
2013 ArtsCross — Danscross Seminar 1
Starting with the group discussions which took place on 1 August and up until this morning’s thematic seminar, I developed the sense that academic research which spans across different art forms and disciplines can constitute a structural analysis and consideration of the diverse cultural elements to be found within reality.
1. The emergence of questions
Philosophy tells us that things are always interconnected. Culture itself is a complex system, and within culture, art naturally possesses a duality of disciplines, discipline imposed from within and discipline imposed from without. The internal self-discipline of art causes artistic creation to strive for an “independent” identity. Externally imposed discipline, on the other hand, makes the phenomenon of artistic creation difficult to summarise “in a nutshell”. At the point of creation, dance is indistinguishable from religion. Although the breaking apart of modernism has forced the arts to stand up for themselves — the birth of aesthetics for example — post modernist “dedifferentiation” — “Art Without Borders” — have constituted a contemporary redefinition of the relationship between art and life. The aestheticisation of everyday life and the normalization of aesthetics have broken down the borders between art and life, thereby also breaking down the divisions between art forms.
In homogeneous cultural systems, things remain unchanged. But within globalised, internationalised cross-cultural systems, crossovers between art forms and disciplines must inevitably create a more complex reality. Historical differences between languages and regions constitute the basis for the variety, ambiguity and diversity of contemporary dance creation. One of the experimental aspects of the ArtsCross project is that it creates a highly concentrated cross-cultural creative space — between East and West; between different cities: Beijing, Taipei, London…; between the different cultural backgrounds of choreographers, dancers and academics… this also constituted a focus for our observations. In this context, “difference” emphasised the diverse ways of understanding dance creation, performance and even education. “Fusion” was accelerated — as a result of the adaptations and compensations made by the interpreters, dancers, choreographers and academics, the barriers between spoken and body languages were quickly swept away during the process of creation and discussion.
2. Analysing and answering questions
The complexity of artistic creation means that it is not possible to use theoretical frameworks or ideas belonging to that art form to fully explain and interpret the phenomena and questions it produces. Thus, cross-disciplinary approaches constitute a choice and application of methodology, an observation of the creation and development of dance, its aesthetics and its social function, from a third party, or external perspective. The creation and development of dance, for example, is inseparable from the influence of socio-economic, political and cultural factors — the influence of modernism on the emergence of modern dance, for example. The emergence of Dance Theatre represented a breakthrough for the traditional methods of dance expression. As a result of the fact that dance combines elements of body and mind, disciplines which deal with people such as psychology and educational studies have given dance the tools to create a comprehensive understanding of itself. Therefore, the existence of ArtsCross and cross-disciplinary research constitute progress in the theory and practice of dance as an art form, while also being a way of attracting greater attention and appraisal for dance from society.