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Christopher Bruce Ghost Dances Essay Format

Ghost Dances, By Christopher Bruce Essay

The work ‘Ghost Dances’ by Christopher Bruce was viewed on 26th August, 2011 to the Year 12 Dance class. The individual interpretation of the social/political or world issue/ comment the piece is attempting to make. Using direct examples from the performance, the use the choreographer has made of the movement and the non-movement components have been identified. Also the effectiveness of this piece has been evaluated.

After Christopher Bruce received a letter from a widow of a Chilean folk singer who had been murdered the very inspirational and symbolic ‘Ghost Dances’ work came about. In 1981 Bruce obtained Rambert’s trust and knowledge that he can create dance movements of a high quality and very symbolic to scenarios. Rambert asked Bruce to compile a work for the Chilean Human Rights Committee; who gave him South American styled music which he immediately adored. The tragic place in South America where dreadful situations affect the poor: father figures being pulled away from their loving families and tortured to death, friends murdered and the children taken away. Knowing of all these horrid acts stirred Bruce to be overwhelmingly sympathetic towards the causes and people who faced these unnecessary killings among their homes and neighborhood. Bruce incorporates many dance techniques and elements to portray and recognize the difference between good and evil, heaven and hell. A major aspect of this work is the characters involved and what they do to rule power and domination.

A major aspect within ‘Ghost Dances’ is the characters and how they reflect the meaning of the story and what they resemble. There are two different groups of characters within this work, the Ghost Dancers and the Peasant Villagers. Each group acts opposing to one another with diverse motives and idea of life or as it may, death. There are three Ghost Dancers that are painted grey with black lines of muscle and dark costumes. They are cruel dark dehumanized skeletal creatures that are figures of death. Their role within this work is very overwhelming. They are dominant, powerful and proudly on show and possess control of the Peasant Villagers lives. They watch their every move and attack suddenly, having full control these poor and innocent people. The Peasant Villagers carry on their everyday lives and try to be happy although they know of the constant death threat that may knock on their door at any time and take them away. As there are both male and female village dancers, they have the same concept to life and dance similarly uncontrollably and uncaring. However the male dancers are bold and predominant as they are stronger and strive to protect their loving partners. Although the females are strong they are over powered by the male figures in their lives, especially the Ghost Dancers whom have complete control of their existence. They feel helpless and uncontrolled every minute of each day. Various non-movement components help build the intensity within the...

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An illustrated explanation of Christopher Bruce's most enduring work, 'Ghost Dances'. Bruce directs a rehearsal and discusses the factors which influenced the piece, in particular the issue of political oppression in Chile. Bruce describes his desire to highlight the plight of the ordinary people as the reason for focusing on the images of skeletons and skulls. We see a performance of some of the Ojos Azules section, which begins when the music starts to accompany the Ghost dancers and ends with the arrival on stage of the dead. Danced by the Rambert Dance Company and costumes by Belinda Scarlett.
This clip is from:
Class Clips, Dance - Choreography
First broadcast:
6 October 2010

This clip could be used to support students in their research of Christopher Bruce and his work. This could also be used to illustrate the relationship between the choreographer and the stimulus for dance pieces such as ‘Ghost Dances.’
Like Bruce, students could use a social issue or news story as a stimulus for their choreography. They may want to divide the issue or story up into specific movements, or to reflect different aspects of the stimulus through different performers.

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