Performance Art?

Performance Art
Image Source: malditoforo.com

Yummy wrote a post on the Dance Queens blog about Performance Art.

It’s good – so go here to read it.

Yummy and I talked a lot at the beginning of the year about how things seemed to be changing – for us and for others.

As the year has gone on, however, more and more changes seem to be happening.

I don’t know if the announcement of LL’s Next Gen Platform (not SL 2.0, but Project Sansar, for now) played a part or not.

I know that, with the announcement, I personally took a step back to re-evaluate my involvement in SL.

I’ve been involved in dance since I started in SL.

But it seems that there have been lots of changes this year – more than normal.

Dancers moving to new venues, venues closing, venues opening – all normal activities, but the number of them this year seems to be rising.

One of the shifts centers around the label ‘performance art.’

Yummy stated that “There seems to be a collective mind-shift away from traditional dance-as-entertainment towards dance-as-art in the SL dance-show world. I think it is because here exists the perception that dance-as-art will allow more freedom for creative personal expression.”

I’m not sure that I agree.

I think that part of the shift has been because the terms ‘burlesque,’ ‘neo-burlesque,’ and ‘cabaret’ (which have usually been used by dance troupes), don’t really capture what dance-as-entertainment shows are in SL today.

Most of the dance shows I go to these days are what I would term Vegas-like fare.

After some researching of definitions, perhaps ‘dance revue’ is the most accurate?

A typical dance show is a variety of performers dancing in various acts – usually the length of one song.

Most acts have a single dancer, though there are also couples and group dancing.

And some contain nudity (much like Vegas shows). 😛

As more tools have become available, we now see avatars moving in formations, objects moving, sets fading in and out, and light/particle/special effects.

I wouldn’t label these acts as ‘performance art,’ though I will likely be in the minority.

Yummy’s post contained a quote/definition that sums up my feelings on the subject:  “...Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a conceptual art which conveys a content-based meaning in a more drama-related sense, rather than being simple performance for its own sake for entertainment purposes.”

Of course, what is art?

It’s all in the eye of the beholder, so what you consider art might be something I consider junk, or vice versa.

I think the central concept for me is that ‘performance art is non-traditional.’

So simply changing the name of an act/venue/club/whatever from ‘burlesque’ to ‘performance art’ isn’t all there is to it.

It will be interesting to see how the shift progresses.

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7 thoughts on “Performance Art?

  1. 🙂 Kat. Both yours and Yummy’s blog posts are wonderful (in my not-so-humble opinion {I am very humble in many ways; however, being especially opinionated, my opinions aren’t really humble – this sounds like a good subject for a blog.}).

    As you well know I have applied “Performance Art” as something that may be performed, and therefore seen, at Lotta’s and My new Venue “Night Players.” Lotta writes 99.9998% of all our publicity matter, and in our two plus years of operation she/we have shied away from using the term “Burlesque” to publicize the Paramount, and now the Night Players, theaters.

    I know that my own presentations which I label “art” fit within my own self-defined limits of what i want to present. So far. 🙂 I am so very much hoping that others will take advantage of the opportunity to present their own Art at the Night Players venue.

    Regarding defining what we do on our stages, I’ve been a “‘quiet but not silent rebel” all my life, and haven’t stopped. If one more person reads me the definition of burlesque, I will probably . . . go for a ride on my Harley to clear my brain. 🙂

    Path

    1. Lol. I’m with you on the ‘quiet but not silent’ thing. I’ve never thought that ‘burlesque’ was a great term to use for most of the dancing in SL, but I really don’t think it fits what most dance venues are doing these days.
      The definitions of words are fluid and often change over time, and since art itself is so subjective, I doubt that there will be universal agreement about what is and what isn’t ‘performance art.’
      As long as you are learning and growing as a performer/artist, then it’s all good. 🙂

  2. I think moving away from categorizing dance in SL as burlesque, which it was for a very long time, is simply reflecting the reality of what has happened over the past years. Thank goodness, since burlesque style dance can be very boring.

    I was involved in the SL art world long before I became a dance groupie and ultimately a dancer, but because dance had moved evolved into something much richer and much more interesting it drew me in. It is capable of being art. The tools and animations have come such a long way that dance in SL has been able to evolve into performance art. Just as there is great and good and not so good art, so not all dance is “performance art” and a lot of it is Las Vegas entertainment style and just plain good fun. I think when dancer creates a performance where the music, the set, the dance, the costume all come together to interpret their feelings or to tell a story which engages us it’s definitely performance art.

    Sometimes, as you say, just using all the tricks of set fading and moving objects around and particles flying every which way because you can doesn’t make performance art, it’s simple showing off technical skill. I go to a lot of dance performances and there always seems to be one or two which for me are a WOW. Everything came together in that one! Not every performance has to be a WOW to enjoy it and not every one is performance art. But like the next golf shot, the next dance could be the one.

    1. Dance has evolved in SL and continues to do so. And it CAN be art, I agree. I am not sure I would label most of it art, though (my own routines included!). Entertaining, yes, certainly – that’s the primary goal of most dance venues. But I’m not sure that the goal of ‘performance art’ is to be entertaining, and therein lies the difference – for me, at least. Perhaps it is just my own jaded viewpoint. 😛

  3. I think dance in SL is a type of performance art…at least some of it is. Jo is right, there are tons of just really fun acts, but when the set, song, costume and dance come together….just so….something magical happens and you feel like you’re IN the dance. It doesn’t happen all the time, certainly not every show, but when it does…that to me is the definition of performance art. It may not happen for the viewer, but I know that I have a few favorite dances that I’ve done where it all just becomes something more than a good ole wiggle and bump to the music. It’s not something that I can pull off on a weekly basis….but what we do clearly isn’t burlesque…although a well done striptease can be oodles of fun!

    Either way, I find each show fascinating. I still think ballwarming is my favorite past time, so I can see all the acts in all their glory and enjoy each one for exactly what it is 🙂

    1. I’ve never thought that burlesque was a good term for what you see at many dance venues. You raise a good point about ‘pulling it off on a weekly basis.’ If you’re a troupe with a lot of members, a weekly show may make sense, but for smaller troupes/venues, I think it would benefit the dancers and the audience if performers had more time to work on routines.
      I liked ball warming when I first started dancing, but then I would get too many ideas about how I would have done something differently, so it was easier on my stress level if I did my own choreo, lol.

  4. I have to agree with Kat that “non-traditional” is a major descriptor of “performance-art”.

    “Dance-as-Art” to me is where a dance-to-music type act all comes together. True, that doesn’t happen that often but yes when it does you can get lost IN the routine..

    If you feel like applauding after its over and you were ‘into the feel’ then i would describe that as “dance-as-art”.

    If you went away, thinking about what you saw and heard, wondering about it, processing it, digesting it, then it is more likely “performance-art”.

    If the piece is nothing without the dance and/or song, then i would term it “dance-as-art”.

    If it can convey most of what it was meant to convey without music and/or song at its core, if it can stand on its own merit without relying on standard ‘show-formula’, then it would more likely qualify as “performance-art”.

    Just my personal opinion.

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