Analysis of Ghost Dances - Gcse Dance - Aqa - a* Standard

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  • Topic: Dance, Kill, Stage
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  • Published : April 13, 2013
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Ghost Dances

In 1973, Christopher Bruce heard about the murders going on in the small villages and towns of Chile on the orders of the government; just to show off their power, and how they were not afraid to use it. Bruce found out as a result of a letter received from a widow of a Chilean folk singer who had been murdered. He was asked to do work for the Chilean Human Rights Committee. The dance first premiered in 1988, the costume designer being Belinda Scarlett and the music being by Incantation, playing the song ‘Ojos Azules’ which is Spanish for ‘Blue Eyes’.

In terms of actions and dynamics for this piece, Bruce has used a few elegant balletic movements, such as arabesque and attitude, to show control and strength of what dominance they have over their victims. To also show their deathly ways and what they are capable of doing to the villagers, Bruce has choreographed movements such as twists, leaps, and glides, in high levels, to show height and importance. There have also been movements using wheel plains, showing extension and length. Other movements include off-balance turns. Dancers and choreographers use off-balance turns in order to turn quickly, using their arms as momentum, and the leg dragging behind for control and resistance. This shows strength in the arms and how ghosts will not hesitate to use their power and strength. Bruce has also choreographed a lot of traditional Chilean steps to mimic the villagers and how weak they are because the ghosts performed them with a lot of dropping of the head which people use to be sarcastic. They use slow movements, to show a slow and painful murder, but they also use fast movements, to show as soon as they’ve killed these villagers, they will be off to find someone else to kill. When the ghosts decide to approach the strangers, they drop to the floor, crawl over to them, and then stand up, to almost show their power and dominance growing as they stand up to the villagers.

The dance starts off as a trio (3 dancers) and the theme of trios carry on throughout the dance, such as having 3 female villagers and 3 male villagers and using ‘3/4’ counted movements such as triple steps and waltz movements.

Other movements that the ghosts use were performed in canon, which represents that because they have the same movements, they have the same intentions of murdering the villagers. They also performed movements in unison, to show acting as a team, and power and again, the same intentions to kill the villagers. There was not a leader in the dance as they didn’t have any dominance over each other, but they have equal dominance over their victims but at certain times they all had their turns with performing different movements to show personality, to show that even though they all had the same goal they had a different personality to show that they were real animals with a soul, and perhaps they had a previous life as an animal/human, coming back from the dead.

When talking about space, the ghosts use all of the space and direction on the stage to show confidence and power. But it terms of personal space, the dancers sometimes dance on their own, without any contact with each other, but in other parts of the dance, they interlock and play with each other, almost acting like lions, to show their animalistic behaviour and what they will do to the villagers. Whilst just the ghosts are dancing, none of them exit and the only time an entrance or exit is used is when the villagers enter.

Belinda Scarlett, the costume designer, designed the costumes carefully to show strength and danger that the villagers had yet to come. The costume was mainly all black, to signify death and depression but Christopher Bruce said that he wanted some elements of a “naïve, typical skeleton” within the costume to emphasize the fact that they are ghosts, and are already dead, and to invite the villagers to their world of pain and misery. Scarlett used horse hair for the wigs of the masks...
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