International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Report Sub-Study Group on Field Research Theory and Methods

Report from the ICTM Ethnochoreology Sub-Study Group on Fieldwork Theory and Methods.

Fieldwork experiment in Turkey, May 2005.

The Sub-Study Group on Field Research Theory and Methods organized in the period 03-10 May 2005 a field research experiment that took place in Turkey in the town Izmir and the surrounding areas, the local organizer being Dr. Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin. Nine researchers from Belgium, Denmark, USA- Germany, USA- Greece, Hungary and Norway, as well as Turkish researchers and faculty members of the Folk Dance Department of the Izmir Ege University State Turkish Music Conservatory were involved with the project.

This fifth fieldwork experiment of the Sub-Study Group had three main working themes:
- 1. The ethnography of H?d?rellez (St. George ritual) enacted by the Gypsies of an Izmir mahalle (quarter) and the Alevi Muslims religious ceremony with dance (semah) in the village Güzeltepe Tahtac?. These occasions offered the possibility of experimenting modalities for collecting relevant information by eliciting comments from the onlookers during the development of the events, and for constructing visual texts (film, photos) that could capture the transient reality and re-present it in the most illustrative way.
2. Recording and analysis ‘on the spot’ of the dance repertoire performed in the context of a re-enacted wedding in the village Çomakdag-Dibekdere, and especially the study of the men-dace Zeybek - the main dance type of this region - in different individual interpretations and in different places (K?z?lagaç and Bodrum).
- 3. The third theme was dedicated to information and documentation concerning the content and the methods of academic education and of the scientific research (including fieldwork collection, archive systematisation, studies and publications) carried out at the Turkish Folk Dance Department of the Ege University State Turkish Music Conservatory of Izmir. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Ege University all the participants at the fieldwork experiment were invited to take part at a panel with the theme: “Folk Dancing and Folk Dance Research Around the World”.

This dense program was introduced by a comprehensive presentation with fieldwork video- recordings and explanations offering the participants a comprehensive view and understanding of the traditional dance culture in the Izmir region, including ethnic and religious minority groups.
Being prepared in all details by our hosts the fieldwork experiment had primarily a presentational and informative character. Therefore, our role in the field was rather that of attentive, interested and inquiring recorders of a great amount of information filtered through the knowledge and expertise of the Turkish scholars. This new situation taught us about the collaborative work between scholars situated in the position of insider or outsider in relation to a given culture, and about mutual help and understanding.
In this spirit we acknowledge the local organiser Dr. Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin for the efficient work carried out with great energy and competence. We also thank the Turkish Folk Dance Department at the Ege University State Turkish Music Conservatory of Izmir for making possible to realize in practice and in best conditions the complex program set up for this project. We particularly appreciate the inspiring scholarly collaboration with our Turkish colleagues especially Prof. Abdurrahim Karademir, Ömer Barbaros Ünlü and Emir Cenk Aydin. Last but not least we thank our Turkish interpreters for sharing with us their knowledge and for making possible communication across language barrier.

The fieldwork experiment in Turkey resulted in tens of hours of visual and sound recordings, hundreds of photos, ‘direct- observation’ notes, information, dance descriptions and analysis, personal comments, diaries, and finally systematic catalogues of the collected materials.
The participants at the fieldwork experiment intend to present the tangible and theoretical results their research activity in the form of a panel under the theme “From Field to Text” at the forthcoming 24th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology to be held in Cluj (Romania), July 2006.
Report from the ICTM Ethnochoreology Sub-Study Group on
Fieldwork Theory and Methods.
Fieldwork experiment in Romania, May - June 2004.

The fieldwork experiment (the fourth in a row) took place in the villages Breb and Ocna ?ugatag, district Maramure? of northern Romania, organized by Anca Giurchescu. Nine researchers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, USA and Romania, as well as the villagers were involved with the project. They all appreciated it as a successful professional and human experience.

The main purpose of the fieldwork was the study and recording of the ‘village dance’ (joc) and its ongoing symbolic transformation from a well-framed pre-marital ceremonial to a cultural manifestation having performance and entertainment as main functions in a tourism oriented social context. The ‘village dance’ that was organized by the leaders of the young-men age group every Sunday and festive days, lost its periodicity the last four-five years. This fieldwork experiment assisted in the re-vitalization of this social context, which a few years ago played an important role in community life. Cultural associations carry out the process, and a well-known musician of the village Hoteni is the local representative.

Organized around Pentecost (30 and 31 May) the field research intended to disclose how the "revitalized" dance events are experienced and interpreted by the local people. What are the social-cultural, artistic and economic implications of this subtle and intricate process. Some of the inquiry subjects were the following:
· Description of the village dance (joc) as experienced by different age groups (based on information and interviews with old, middle age and young people);
· The way participants (of different ages and walk of life) interpret and comment the event (eliciting information from onlookers during the development of the event);
· The place of the village joc in the present social context and its future development, as commented by the local people;
· The impact exerted by our presence on the local population.

According to the preliminary program the group met in the village Hoteni (the 26th May) arriving via Budapest or Bucharest. Using the well functioning system of ‘rural tourism’ the participants were located in two villages (Hoteni and Breb). A member of each group took on the role of interpreter. The introductory meeting focused on the aims, strategies and the limits of the ‘fieldwork experiment’ and on the distribution of responsibilities.

The first days were dedicated to accommodation with the physical and human environment. We observed people at work, discussed with the villagers and especially with the local musicians and learned the local dance repertoire. In the evenings there were commentaries on video recordings showing the village joc as it was performed several years ago.

On Pentecost (30 May) the whole group participated and recorded in Sat ?ugatag the religious service that took place in the cemetery, the church being too small for the great number of participants. The village joc that followed was introduced by a procession of young men accompanying the musicians to the dancing place and closed by a party organized in a private home.
The second Pentecost day (31May) we recorded in the village Breb a religious celebration dedicated to the dead, the village joc, and a dance party (b?ut?) traditionally organized by young men.

A one day excursion throughout the “historical Maramure?” gave us the possibility to admire the old wooden churches with high and pointed towers, houses with huge carved wooden porches, the “marry cemetery” of S?pân?a with painted crosses that describe in images and witty stanza the life of the deceased, and an open-air museum in the town Sighet.

The fieldwork was closed by a common discussion summing up and evaluating the results of this experiment. The seven days of fieldwork resulted in tens of hours of video recordings, thousands of digital photographs, recordings of music and interviews, direct observation notes of several events and diaries.

According to the opinion of the participants the dance events (joc) experienced by the group were carried out by the entire community in such a natural and spontaneous way and with such a commitment that the fact of being the result of preliminary impulses from our part (for example payment of the musicians) became totally irrelevant. Feedback inquiries demonstrated that the community considered these dance events to be fully traditional “just the way they always were”. On the threshold between preservation and transformation, the ambivalent position of the village joc in Breb and Sat ?ugatag has a certain degree of generality and plays a significant role in the future development of the local cultural inheritance. Therefore, we anticipate that the tangible and theoretical results of the fieldwork in Maramure? may offer a solid base for a case study on the process of re-vitalization to be publicly presented or published.
Anca Giurchescu