Imported and Homegrown

Dancing modernists in Oceania

Authored by: Amanda Card

The Modernist World

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415845038
eBook ISBN: 9781315778334
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696162

10.4324/9781315778334.ch27

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Abstract

In Oceania, as in most locations, those corralled under a modernist banner make interesting, often odd companions: intellectually rigorous partisans, avant-garde cosmopolitans, politically aware doctrinaires, with the occasional appropriator thrown into the mix. There are ballet dancers, Central European moderns, expressive dancers influenced by physical culture, and creators of what came to be called dance-drama. Some had direct links to experimenters in Europe and the United States; others gleaned their practices secondhand or simply made it up as they went along. Although far from the historical progenitors of modernism in the arts, Oceanic-based artists were concerned with the same contemporary aesthetics and political struggles as their mentors and colleagues across the globe. They were interested in experimenting with form and content by paring back a reliance on established techniques. They believed in the autonomy of dance, but also expanded their form by borrowing ideas and technical practices from other art forms. They combined a radical politics with innovative aesthetics, and appropriated from other cultures in their search for originality, universality, and a cosmopolitan but locally particular identity and practice.

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