*Aπαγορεύεται η μερική ή ολόκληρη αναδημοσίευση άρθρων και κειμένων χωρίς την γραπτή έγκριση του ΑΡΧΕΙΟΥ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟΥ ΧΟΡΟΥ
Professor Neoklis Sarris
Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences
Department of Sociology
Athens - Greece
FOLK DANCES - Prof. Neoklis Sarris
FOLK DANCES AND GLOBALIZATION
3rd IOV WORLD CONGRESS - ANDONG, SOUTH KOREA
Prof. Dr. Neoklis Sarris / GREECE
I will start with a common aphorism so that I can conclude with a common observation as well. This aphorism is about technology as a human product, and the observation is that, within the last century, a radical and fundamental change took place in human societies through technology, which further evolved them into a uniform type: There are those who want to present this type as the ideal type representing what they call "globalization". This social type, as the inevitable result of technological evolution, becomes simultaneously the cause for a global shift in human ways and behaviors, leading them towards regimentation (or homogenization).
I consider two levels at which the “interference” of technology with human societies becomes drastic: the first level has to do with transportation and the second level communications. Both levels have already acquired the attributive adjective ‘mass’. Mass transportation and mass communication. This says a lot about the horizons of people in every corner of the earth, wherever they expand. And, paradoxically, the more people\'s horizons expand, the more the distance between them diminishes, eventually to be completely erased.
This approach, however, leads to the formation of common codes that make current affairs intelligible. These codes on one hand are the necessary result of the uniformity of everyday practices, which leads to uniformity in habits and the way of thinking and behaving.
In simpler terms, all of the above mean that individual practices and habits, some times quickly and other times slowly, are disappearing or being inserted in quotation marks. In this sense, they are being placed in museum or festival frames. Individual practices, such as the cultural manifestations of each individual society, have the fate of fauna, which, in certain regions, tend to become extinct due to technological development. At that juncture, global mobilization can occur and national parks are founded or endangered species are preserved in various zoos.
The parallelism with ‘national’ dances is implicit. The regimented global community rejects all that is ‘national’. I won\'t be falling out of line by asking the question, ‘if there is a national character’ even in what is dictated as ‘non national’. I notice though that children in Seoul and Athens, in Incheon and Thessaloniki, as well as children in Paris and New York, watch the same animated cartoons on TV, and also watch the same TV series. Furthermore, and I say this without an edge to my words, by the age of 15 they have already watched more movies on the civil war in America, than works dealing with the history of their own country.
‘National’ dances are folk dances when not ‘ethnic’ . In which cases they are considered to be ethnic depends, I think, on the frequency of their appearance in third world countries, and in those that they can be performed popularly by acquiring economic and therefore political power, they become leaders of cultural authority internationally.
The term "folk dances", more than anthropological interest, is rather more interesting from a historical perspective: it refers to societies of the past. Societies, which were primarily rural, hence traditional ones. As a term, knowing and studying them presupposes knowledge of the broader domain of the specific folk culture, in addition to the music. More specifically, it requires knowledge of the material elements of the societies inside which they were shaped over time. Every folk dance has a reason, more properly a functionality, inside the society in which it has been shaped. However, it is questionable if the most skillful people at these dances actually know how and why they have to follow the particular dance steps.
In Greece, ‘hassapiko” is a dance that was being performed by the unions of butchers in Byzantine cities. The “trata” dance was associated with everyday practice of fishermen taking their fishing boats out in the Greek archipelago. Also, dances like “tsamiko”, “pentozalis” and pontic dance are war dances: the first mainly in the Peloponnese, the second in the great island of Crete and the third one with Greek refugees from coastal areas of the Black Sea in Asia Minor. In Greek dances, one can find elements of influences from foreign conquerors several centuries ago, like the “balos” dance in Corfu or the Cyclades. What is noteworthy though is that in many of these dances the patterns and step sequences go back two and a half thousand years, based on representations on vessels that have been discovered, and on descriptions from texts of ancient Greek literature.
Nevertheless, these dances have been stripped of their social and historical context and have been transmuted into patterns, or models, which are nothing more than cultural cans. Undoubtedly, there is a marked difference between the first dancer or dancers of a dance and today\'s performers. It is not just that today\'s dancers fit into the pattern which is taught to them, but they are usually trained to discipline their impulsiveness according to the mandates of form. On the other hand though, in every performance of similar to the folk dances cultural models –in Greece we have Byzantine iconography which is mainly an almost uniform depiction of the saints of church - not only is there repetition, what we would rather incorrectly call “objective,” there is also the subjective element, which many a time surpasses the limits of replication. The boundaries between the original and the replicas are in this aspect indistinct, and unclear, just as are the limits between subjective and objective, between the terms “individual” and “society.”
Undoubtedly, by the term "traditional", even if we wanted to, we cannot represent the dances of a past era as though they are exhibits in a museum. Although traditional, these dances are also contemporary, since their performance takes place at the present. I studied the way of acting in my country-- that is, how actors and actresses perform their theatrical roles over the last fifty years. The difference in articulation, voice volume, physical expression and other aspects of acting has changed significantly.
The revival of ancient Greek tragedies and comedies in my country has, from the very beginning, faced the same problem, both in theory and in practice. The idea of musical performances was quickly abandoned. Yet again, during the last five decades, the change in performance, even the direction of classic repertory plays of ancient drama has been significant. And yet, in the ancient theatre of Epidavrus or the Herod Atticus Odeon, or in other ancient theatres, there are still performances of tragedies by Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylous and comedies by Aristophanes. Every new attempt though is nothing but a new adventure, which links the original of the past with the original of the present and whatever all this means both for those participating in the performance, and for the audience.
The same holds true about traditional dances, where international communication between those working on the dances, always has something innovative to offer. Many times, this happens unconsciously. It is not that through contact with the traditional dances of other countries one becomes richer in experience and knowledge. Rather, what is significant is that all this experience and knowledge becomes part of the conscience. Thus it is more from the subconscious of the teacher, as well as the performer, of traditional dances, that the treasure of the objective knowledge he or she has acquired through international contacts with colleagues is gleaned and transferred to his or her own country, or social space. This constitutes an immediate influence for the teaching and performing of traditional dances, contributing to a convergence of teaching methods, that also results from the simultaneous erasure of distance and the increase, or “globalization” of the world. We come close to one another through our dances, which, in turn, develop as a crystallization of knowledge and experience that can be further enhanced as we get to know each other and get better acquainted with each other’s dances.
3rd IOV WORLD CONGRESS - ANDONG, SOUTH KOREA