No. 24 - An Exploration of Dance Ethnography

2 Kerr St, Fitzroy

Thursday the 24th November, 7.30pm for an 8pm start

$15 membership for 3 months


Trance and Dance in Bali

An Exploration of Dance Ethnography

As ethnography method and textual style originates in anthropology, cases of dance ethnography appear in the first anthropological studies from the late 19th century, included in elaborate descriptions of rituals. Dance is an indicator of social and cultural circumstances, often identifying points of conflict and driving transitions. Dance ethnography has revealed political and religious control of dance, in colonial and postcolonial settings as well as in many other contemporary situations of social inequality that can be said to lead to resistance or social critique, as in the revitalisation of ethnic dance or the making of alternative expression through dance. 

A specific program has been selected to observe the diverse and enriching tradition of dance. Each film is set in a different country, and is taken between 1951-1981. 

Three Dances 1978 8min dir. David Roberts

David Gulpilil performs three Aboriginal dances - Emu, Kangaroo and Fish

N!Owa T'ama = Melon Tossing 1973 15min prod. Center for Documentary Anthropology

Woman and girls from three separate Kung bands gather to play a long and intense game in which undertones of social and personal tension are apparent. The melon tossing game is unique in the complexity and stability of its music and in the frequency with which it is played. Gunda joins the game and dances spectacularly. He uses a dance step commonly encountered among Kwesan peoples

Trance and Dance in Bali  1951 22min prod. Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson

The Balinese ceremonial dance drama in which a struggle between a witch and a dragon is played out to the accompaniment of comic interludes and violent trance seizures. 

Northern Games 1981 26min dir. Ken Buck

In the northern summer, Inuit (Eskimos) gather together from all over the Arctic Circle. They meet to participate in the Northern Games, the traditional games passed on through generations of Inuit. Most of the events are based on the skills and physical endurance so necessary for survival in the Canadian Arctic. Not only do they come to compete in such contests as canoe racing, harpoon throwing and the good woman competition but also to meet friends and relations, to sing, feast and dance the age old drum dances.