Hindering Modern Dance

by Mary Bell | 11/26/02 6:00am

To the Editor:

After approximately 100 hours spent this fall term alone on plis, tendues, turns, leaps and jumps in the Straus dance studio, my calloused feet were prepared last Tuesday evening to perform the work which has consumed a large part of my term and my Dartmouth career. For the first time this year, the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble brought new work out of the sterile studio and in front of our peers. All the grunt work in the studio, hours (years, for many) of technique, was affirmed (or not, as the case may be) in the act of performance. I was gratified to see the photo the next day, Nov. 20, of the ensemble on the front page of The Dartmouth, an affirmation in itself. Thank you for the photo; as a relatively new group begun just four years ago, we appreciate any publicity.

However, by accompanying the photo with the caption: "I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT: The Dartmouth Dance Ensemble performs one of their 'modern dances,'" you have critically undermined a sincere effort at the advancement not only of dance at Dartmouth, but of modern art in the broadest sense. The ironic use of quotation marks displays laziness on behalf of the writer, who appears not to understand the term. The quotation marks indicate that the writer believes that these dances are in fact not real modern dances at all, while in fact three of the four pieces performed were choreographed by professional choreographers. The metaphor choice trivializes the event and the art form in a way that I hope offends any sensitive viewer or performer.

Your careless comment fosters an attitude that is discouraging to the creative life at Dartmouth and indicates close-mindedness to all things unfamiliar. Our art is in treading the unfamiliar ground, challenging the creative body and mind to move in new ways and in shaping ourselves in space and in relation to others.