Friday, January 22, 2010

Continuing the Conversation With Ann Hutchinson Guest and Ray Cook on the Term "Natural"

Continuing the Conversation With Ann Hutchinson Guest and Ray Cook on the Term "Natural"
Submitted by Sandra Aberkalns - March 2, 2000

You still need to know what "natural" means within the context of the work. The problem is not only one of choreographic style/technique but also a cultural and temporal one.

We cannot create symbols in a vacuum. In this era of globalization, notators must address a wide range of situations and cultures when creating new symbols, so the symbols will be universally useful.

In AHG's submission on Feb. 10, 2000 she uses the term "village folk dancer" to describe untrained, natural movement. My question to AHG is who's village is she referring to -- the British Isles, Manhattan, an African, an Indian (both American and India), a Japanese, an Aborigine, etc. Today's younger generation of choreographers acknowledge the need to seek inspiration from a multitude of cultures as the basis for their works. Therefore, you still have the same problem. Unless you are familiar with what is meant by "natural," you must define the term.

If a work that is shared by nationalities allows each culture to do what is "natural," then you have no problem. However, if a work originally created on Highlanders is recreated in Japan, and requires the Japanese assume the "naturalness" of a Highlander, then you have a problem if "natural" is not defined.

Another more personal example: I just returned from 5 weeks in India and my "natural" carriage when walking and sitting was very different from the Indian women. This was not only pointed out to me by my brother, but several Indian men as well, and yet all the women involved were being "natural."

AHG found Ray Cook's term "pedestrian" useful. On the surface I agree that pedestrian would be a better word than "natural." However, it does not address the root of the problem since the word "pedestrian" still implies "natural," and we are back to the beginning of this conversation -- what is "natural"?

I also believe that until this issue is resolved and there is a general consensus concerning the concept of "natural", we should put the brakes on creating a new symbol. The symbol should evolve out of understanding the concept and not vice versus i.e. creating a symbol and then attaching the meaning.

Please, we would like other people's thoughts on this topic, so don't be shy and jump in at anytime!!!

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