Relevance and Impact of the Socio-Political Contexts on the Work of Choreographers, Ted Shawn and Anna Halprin

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  • Topic: Dance, Ceremonial dance, Doris Humphrey
  • Pages : 6 (2289 words )
  • Download(s) : 63
  • Published : May 8, 2013
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Consider the relevance and impact of the socio-political contexts on the work of two choreographers with whom you are familiar. This essay will aim to discuss the relevance today of the socio-political context of the work of Ted Shawn and Anna Halprin and the impact at the time on western society. The sources I will call upon to support my argument are the published work of acclaimed dance practitioners such as, Martha Graham and Joyce Morgenroth, as well as published interviews, journals and papers of Shawn and Halprin. I hope to demonstrate the legacy of Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers, the very ideals upon why Shawn founded the all male dance company, as a way of changing the general perspective of 1930’s society, at this time dance was not seen as a credible profession for a man. I hope to demonstrate that the work he created and the issues he dealt with are still relevant in society today. The impact of Shawn’s principles are still visible as current choreographers; the BalletBoyz, have based their ethos on the same principles as Shawn did over sixty years previously, promoting the power of the male body and justifying dance as a respectable art form for a man to be involved in. A choreographer in contrast to Shawn is Anna Halprin, Halprin is renowned for her involvement across the spectrum of the arts, particularly art, theatre and dance, I, however, will aim to discuss the impact Halprins principles of the ‘healing power of dance.’ I will demonstrate how Halprins work has impacted and challenged society by bringing new concepts of the word dance. Her work has caused concern for many as she claims to heal the terminally ill with dance. ‘Her Jewish background made her aware of her ‘difference’ and a concomitant need to prove herself in the mainstream American culture which was her social milieu.’ Worth and Poyner (2004 pp. 2) Halprins healing work stems from her development of ‘The Mountain Dance’ a dance she created to help her local community, regain the Mount Tampla which had it’s footpath’s closed as a series of unsolved murders had taken place there, in an effort to regain the mountain into the community Halprin set about performing a series of dance rituals along with the local community using the mountain as the stage. ‘The Mountain dance’ was extremely successful with not only bringing the community together, but also bringing the mountain back into the community as shortly after the cleansing ritual had taken place the murderer had been caught, Halprin using this as hope then developed the mountain dance further, so it was able to be danced by anyone, anywhere, and so eventually created ‘Circle the earth’ a series of scores which can be transferred and adapted to be used by any community, anywhere in the world. In 1929 America was in the immediate grip of ‘The Great Depression’ the economy had completely fallen flat, it was a time when society was wholly patriarchal with the ‘norm’ being the men went to work and the women stayed at home. America at this time relied on primary industries such as, logging, gold mining, and farming. These were male dominated sectors where physical brawn and masculine power were prevalent. These physical industries were what were considered acceptable, for a man to work in. America’s 1930’s society was prejudice regarding the role of the sexes. It was not considered masculine, nor worthy for a man to dance. With the disbandment of Denishawn in 1929 Shawn set up his company Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers the following year. Shawn’s goals aimed to show America otherwise, along with his Men Dancers Shawn took steps to break the prejudice against the male dancers and show America how important the male dancer is, this was done by using movement which stressed and highlighted the male body to the extreme, portraying stamina, strength and flexibility. Shawn’s choreographed works were often received with controversy such as, poncho Indian Ted Shawn suggested ‘American’s extreme...
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