I figured for my first entry I should tackle the biggest question looming over the art form of dance for the camera today, and that is: what should it be called?
There are so many names being batted around: screendance, dance film, cinedance, kinodance, videodance, media dance. I’m sure there are more I don’t even know. Each one has its merits and problems. Each one is has its staunch following of supporters and naysayers.
But what is important about having a name? Everyone is always complaining about being pigeon-holed, mislabeled, stuck in a category. Isn’t one of the great things about this art form that it’s still emerging and being defined? Practitioners in the field now are like pioneers on the new frontier. As my friend Matt Cook, a Milwaukee-based poet says: “It was easy to write the Great American Novel when there were only 5 American Novels.” How exciting to be on the vanguard of a wave that hasn’t crested yet!
However there are huge downsides to not having a recognizable
name for what you do. As any marketer will tell you, it’s all about
branding. How can your movement grow if it’s lost in obscurity? People
need a sound bite, a hook that they recognize and can grab hold of. As
artists, we need an audience! And to attract a following we need a name
for our craft. Successive generations may groan and complain about it
forever, but without the name they wouldn’t have a job in the first
So what should it be? Obviously this question will not be
answered in this entry. I have my preference for the term “videodance,”
but I know that eventually I will have to concede to the popular
winner. The winner will not be decided by any one person, but by the
audience and market forces. Some day soon someone is going to figure
out how to market this genre, and whichever name they can sell, will be
the one we have to use.
So, let the games begin! Post your
nominations here for the best name for this genre. Give us your
surefire pitch, and in a few months, once this blog has blown-up, we’ll
have a vote. So start campaigning now!
(PS: for an interesting discussion of this topic check out Karen Pearlman’s 2006 essay “A Dance of Definitions” http://www.realtimearts.net/article/issue74/8164)