International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Report on the 27th Symposium in Limerick, Ireland

Siri Maeland's report for the ICTM Bulletin on the Study Group's 27th Symposium at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, Limerick, Ireland, including the Study Group on Ethnochoreology's 50th Anniversary Celebration which took place during the symposium in July, 2012.

27th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group in Ethnochoreology and Celebration of 50th Anniversary of the Study Group on Ethnochoreology July 22nd – 29th, 2012.

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick, Ireland hosted these great events.

We are very grateful for the Local Arrangement Committee`s work at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance hosting us at the Academy: Dr. Catherine Foley (Chair), Dr. Colin Quigley, Dr. Orfhlaith Ni Bhriain and Dr. Mats Melin. We were heartily welcomed at the opening reception and dinner the first evening by Professor Paul McCutcheon, Vice President Academic and Registrar, University of Limerick, Dr. Catherine Foley with her staff and Professor László Felföldi, Chair of the Study Group.            

Monday morning 23rd of July started the 6 day-long programme with the two themes of Dance and Place and Dance and Festival. The Programme Committee of Dr. Colin Quigley (Chair), Dr. Hanafi Bin Hussin, Dr. Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin, Dr. Daniela Stavelová and Dr. Judy van Zile had surely put a great effort to “placing” our papers in an order that felt obvious and welcoming. Since there is only one session at a time (no parallel sessions) every paper is heard by everybody in the Symposium. That gives the opportunity to place senior and junior researchers in the same sessions, which gave dynamics, good atmosphere and many interesting discussions and questions after each paper. Everybody in the symposium was engaged!

Theme 1: Dance and place

During the week we traveled to many continents of the world, in real and virtual places, and even ventured into non-places. We were introduced to many varying applications of the notions of place in connection with dance, as well as different ways of conceptualizing space in dance. The larger number of papers on this topic is a reflection on the wide range of applications of this “place” notion(Liz Mellish and Dorota Gremlicová at the concluding session).

Some researchers theorized and connected the terms place and space. Andrée Grau explored, from different ethnographic documentation, the “conversations” that exist between the spatiality of the dances/dancers, the place they are realized in, and the ways they are received by their audiences. Anca Giurchescu used the terms to demonstrate how they are interconnected, exploring two fieldwork experiences. Ivana Katarinčić explored the terms through several standardized dance forms such as historical dances, classical ballet and sports dances, while Georgina Wierre-Gore demonstrated how the dancing in distinct places at an annual ceremonial festival in Nigeria has special meanings and are marking hierarchy and power.
              Physical places in connection to dance in the past and present were exemplified by the papers ofZdravko Ranisavljević on modern Serbian weddings,Berna Kurt
Kemaloğlu on staged folk dance performances in Turkey, Jörgen Torp in his historical sketch of tango placed and unplaced, and Mohd Anis Nor and Hanafi Hussin in their presentation “Lariangi: dancing maiden, palace and royals of the Butonese Kingdom in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia.”
               Other papers were more concentrated around dance as embodied in a specific place/space: Marie-Pierre Gibert explored the connection between a place and the materiality, internal logics and characteristics of the dance itself while Anu Laukkanen explored affective and kinesthetic ethnography. Selena Rakočević gave a picture of a Romanian-Serbian village and identity, Kristin Harris Walsh explored Step dancing in Newfoundland, Elizabeth Painter explored machismo in Cuban Casino, Placida Staro`s case studies in Italy emphasized how the structure and form of a dance changes in new settings, as Yolanda van Ede did in the case of Japanese Flamenco. Stephanie Smith explored the role of Pinewoods Camp in English Country Dance while
Anne von Bibra Wharton explored the places for dancing in the Herbstadt Plantanz. The only roundtable presentation of the symposium, with Egil Bakka, Gediminas Karoblis, Siri Maeland and Marit Stranden, discussed how performer-spectator relationship affects private and public place distinction.
             Place as context, shifting contexts or replacing dance where explored byTvrtko Zebec in Irish dancing in Croatia, Gürbüz Akta
ş in the shifting contexts of the religious dance Samah, Judy van Zile in re-placing dance in Korea, Belma Kurtişoğlu in çiftetelli on the artistic and social stages, Mats Melin on the transformation and change of meaning of Cape Breton step-dancing in different contexts in Scotland and Maria Koutsouba`s reflection upon a dance`s number of “realities.”
               Place was also connected to diaspora/migrants and dance by Ann R. David, who talked about the folk dance practices of Indian Gujaratis settled in the UK; Daniela Ivanova-Nyberg, Bulgarian folk dance activities in the United Stated; Elsie Ivancich Dunin, “From Croatia to the Americas and Australia: Korčula`s sword dances in diaspora;” Judy Olson, táncház as emotional homeland and Andriy Nahachewsky, diasporic Ukrainian participatory dance repertoire.
            Andrea Conger explored metaphorical places/spaces or digital spaces in connection to flash mobs and folk dance, while Vesna Bajić Stojiljković’s contribution was about the use of dance space, “Choreography of folk dances from Serbia: dance, place and stage,” while Z. Gonca Girgin Tohumcu and Kate Spanos explored place within the dance (Romani dance versus Romani style and Irish dance, traditional and contemporary).

Theme 2: Dance and festival

During the week it became obvious that the second theme Dance and Festival was closely related to the first theme Dance and Place. Theresa Buckland emphasized this in the first paper of this section. She demonstrated that the concept “invention of traditions” is problematic in connection to staging of so-called ancient and national dances as part of community celebrations in relation to issues of amateur performance, heritage and English identity. Chi-fang Chao followed up the link between the themes while exploring the phenomenon of cultural and spatial identifications. Adrienne Kaeppler focused on place of performance and its influences on traditional dance in contemporary works and fusion in Hawaiian dance. Urmimala Sarkar unfolded the safe space of dancing in an unsafe place, Purulia in India.
               Community formation, dance, and festivals were explored by Pegge Vissicaro in the case study of Festas Juninas in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Rebeka Kunej’s case study on Veselica in Slovenia, Liz Mellish’s focus on dance performance as part of community festivals in Timisoara, Romania and Daniela Stavelová in traditional festivities in Bohemia. Irene Loutzaki looked at the Hellenic Folk Culture Festival in Greece and Fahriye Dincer at Afro-Turks formation of identity. Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin gave a historic paper about the early folk dance movement in the 1950s-70s and the role of festivals as promotions and protection of Turkish folk dances.
              Omer Barbaros Unlu presented his ethnographic work and emphasized hidden competition at the Horon dances as the focal point of the Upland festival of Black Sea Region in Trabzon. On the other hand Sherry Johnson emphasized community-building and learning experiences over competition in Ottawa Valley step dancing contests. Chris Miller explored the mulit-inter-transdisciplinary festival Crossing the Line, while Dorota Gremlicová explored a graduation ball in contemporary Czech society.
              Miriam Phillips and Linda Dankworth both gave papers with a critical look at Ethnic Dance Festivals/World Dance Festivals. Mats Nilsson had the hard task of being the last presenter of the symposium. With his idea and metaphor of puzzle picture and its connection to the theme Festival, the participants found themselves in the middle of moral panic, Carnival, festival and secure dancing during the 20th and 21st century in Scandinavia.

Reports and student papers:
Three students at different levels Jeremy Carter-Gordon (BA), Konstantinos Dimopoulus (MA) and Jiaying You (PhD) showed us impressive ethnographic works and how to conceptualize these. Carter-Gordon presented Sword dancing traditions across Western Europe, Dimopoulos presented changes in poetic and melodic identity in the community of Vathylakkos, Karditsa and finally You presented two completely different ways of celebrating Chinese New Year in Edmonton, Canada.

Venues and Celebration of 50th Anniversary

During the week “after symposium venues” were highlighted and celebrated as we got to watch, participate in and listen to the diversity in Irish dancing and music. The local committee brought us on an excursion to Killaloe/Ballina Historic Town where we walked the town and were brought to the Lough Derg Cruise. At the cruise our hosts had brought their instruments and played, sang and danced Irish tunes for us. It ended up being a jam session where the participants shared dancing and singing from their traditions. Some of us stayed in the town for the evening session of set dancing in a local pub. It felt like coming to a real place (not imagined one) when the local accordionist played with his electrical drum box, the locals of all ages rehearsed with a caller, some good dancers, some just having fun. This event contrasted with the next evening when we attended a dance concert with former students of the MA Irish Traditional Dance Performance Programme. That concert showed us the diversity of Irish step dancing as different styles of local, traditional, shows and art performances. The Irish pub in Limerick showed us how the musicians just have become a part of the pub, jamming “for themselves” while the pub’s life goes on either with talking, eating, listening or, as it was that day, watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. For some of us the symposium ended with the Barbecue Céili on Saturday evening, dancing céili dance to a live céili  band, and lots of shared dancing. For me the peak of the evening was the step dancing jam where many participants showed that step dancing in Ireland is only a little bit of the step dancing “world.”
              I thought that all these venues made the celebration of our 50th anniversary. Anca Giurchescu was placed in the middle of the celebration, with her knowledge, her devotion for traditional dance and her supporting attitude. Her speech about the starting point of the Study Group in Eastern Europe gives a perspective for new members like myself now entering a group where the diversity of anthropological and choreological approaches is living fruitfully side by side, or sometimes intermingled in the research and in the collaborations that the study group members form within and outside the study group. I think the overall respect between different approaches to dance, the dedication to dance together with the lovely friendships between the members forms the basis for this fruitful group and its growth. I am looking forward to the next fifty years!

                                                                        Siri Mæland