Independent Performing Arts Platform

Archival Terrorism

(traducción en breve)

Daily Headaches of an Archival Dance Terrorist – Angela Vadori


I get up in the morning and turn on my notebook while I make coffee. I like to sip that coffee slowly and take time to wake up. So I check my mails in a very sleepy state, to see how stressful the day might get. Then I open a dance video, usually one I am working on and let it play while I look for socks, still the coffee cup in hand. When I am a little dressed I start wandering around the house with my notebook, sometimes sit outside on the balcony and start playing through all the mechanical quotidian actions. No, I do not pay much attention to the video, but it is there and the sleepiness and distraction sometimes make me notice something I didn’t see before. I sit at least twice more during the day to watch (usually the same) video again. If I have spare time I watch dance videos that have been lying around for a while and didn’t make it on the priority list yet, that would be late at night, just before I fall unconscious into bed. Choreographers give me copies of video recordings to work on and I am a crazy live audience, I make it to up to six performances a week, minimum three. But I like to know what is going on elsewhere, to keep the perspective on the international dance scene and let’s face it, that is not something you get to see much in Buenos Aires, you have to travel or watch videos. Of course my income is more Buenos Aires standard than New York standard, so I can download videos, I can get the choreographers to send me copies or I can make a grab into my network to get someone to send me a specific video. That is walking on illegal terrain. If I want to keep up to date and keep self-educating as a dance writer and theorist, the only way I have to do that is piracy. If I want to educate other people, I need to circulate a minimum amount of material. If I want to get to copy videos from someone, be it a university archive or a private person, I have to offer an exchange. A lot of external HD swapping. I travel light, leave the bigger part of my archive at home and take just 50 DVDs, my notebook with 200 GB videos and an external HD with 250 more. And yet I hardly give out any videos, many choreographers are friends and I respect their wish to not circulate their work. I cannot understand the logic though. The more people see them and like them the more likely for them to get invited to international festivals. Dance is the one art where you cannot replace theatre by video in any way. And the issue of copying… If someone is brilliant, he will transcend your work and make something excellent out of it, isn’t it great to see your work taking its own life? If someone is not creative enough, he will make a pathetic copy of it. and if someone manages to restage exactly your work, there will be someone in the audience who has seen the original since it is freely accessible. Reenactment/restaging when the choreographer is credited, are becoming common practices. So why not want to share your work?

There are discussions about virtual archives but no solutions yet, local intents that cannot capture the internationality of dance… in education the quality of theoretical education depends not only on the capability of the teacher but also on the dimensions of his private collection. The solution might be designing an international dance archive that has local people worldwide working on it and creating the local contexts, a virtual and freely accessible collection of videos, texts, audios…. A simple logical matter of visibility, of increasing knowledge, of propulsing and developing the whole dance community and its stand. For now there is no vision, an extremely complex legal situation and I, little theorist, am forced to keep circulating and gathering information and knowledge as a “dance terrorist”. The little impossibilities, illegalities and schizophrenias of the profession…

But seriously, there is a need to open the discussion on development strategies, the impact of the gathering and circulation of knowledge/information within and on the dance community and other related issues. And it is not just a need within the academic world, but within the artistic world as well. This discussion needs to be public, open, accessible like the accessibility to material we are promoting and do not know how to make happen in practice. There is a justly accused fashion of archival practice, that makes innumerable archives appear and cover tiny segments of material. What happens is a further splintering of information and knowledge by people who have no visions and just gather material that is again inaccessible and divided. The minimum size for these archives, that have to be virtually accessible to make sense, should be a national archive of dance. And to base themselves on these archives and create refreshing, future oriented perspectives, we need capable theorists who are in love with what they do at least as much as the artists themselves, who know how to walk the line between theory and practice. Here is where the circle closes, where education as a theme reappears and education is one of the basic purposes of those archives we speak about.

So I dream with being able to not be acting against the law when I teach my students and show them videos, with being able to see a piece in Korea when I am in Argentina and be able to invite the choreographer to an international festival, with walking into a dance class and referring to Les Ballet C de la B and my students will be able to follow my thought, with encouraging young artists to question themselves, to place themselves and to self-educate.


One response

  1. Me parece fundamental poner el acento en la recopilación y difusión de material teórico y material en imagen dentro del campo de la danza. La posibilidad de tener acceso a la información es derecho de todos y resulta mezquino e incomprensible su ocultamiento. La nota de A. Vadori refleja el entusiasmo por analizar, compartir, intercambiar y sobre todo descubrir lo que día a día se produce en el universo infinito de la danza, actitud que contribuye enormemente a su desarrollo.

    March 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

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