chapter  6
41 Pages

Gained in Translation: Recreation as Creative Practice

WithValerie Preston-Dunlop, Lesley-Anne Sayers

The word archeochoreology suggests what it means: archaeological methods used to “find” lost dances. With archaeology defined as “the technique of studying man’s past using material remains as a primary source,”1 this paper looks at what an archeochoreological approach might pose for recreating the works Rudolf Laban made with his Kammertanzbu¨hne (Chamber Dance Group) in the 1920s for audiences of the twenty-first century. As Mike Pearson points out, in considering the discipline of drama:

The task for me, as the archeochoreologist, was to discover from the resources what kind of reconstruction, representation, or simulation was appropriate for Laban’s Kammertanz. Being a founding Fellow of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, I had listened to many discussions on the relationship of a notated score to the dance work it represented, and to the endeavors of reconstruction directors to overcome the gap that inevitably exists between marks on paper and flesh-and-blood movement. Muriel Topaz, a veteran reconstructor of American modern dance works from the score, took for granted that “the text” of Doris Humphrey’s master work Day on Earth was “the movement itself,” details of which would be available in the notation.3 Kenneth Archer and Millicent Hodson, discussing authenticity, asked a question of their own reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps: “Is there sufficient evidence to ensure the reconstruction will be a reasonable facsimile of the original?”4 In essays written for the volume Preservation Politics, edited by Stephanie Jordan, these scholars presume that the surface form-that is, what is visible by an outside eye, what is captured on a film or videotape of a performance, what is transcribed in a Laban or Benesh notation score-is the essential template for a facsimile, and that making a dance as near as possible the same again is the only dialogue with the past to have validity.