a few thoughts on dance and drill

N. Bannister - L. Maners (landn@AZSTARNET.COM)
Mon, 12 Feb 1996 09:26:28 -0700

This is an interesting idea, but relationships between both and other
cultural activity may be a bit tenuous. It seems to me that military
drill (as we think of it) may be an innovation of later industrial
societies, whereas dance (for a useful definition, see Royce) appears to
be a human universal-at least in the sense that societies at all levels
of socio-culutural organization seem to have some patterned movement
activity which fills both the emic and etic role of dance, though
definitions may vary. In Bosnia, for example,many shepherds' games were
contextualized as dance, when performed as part of a "folklor" performance.
In his "Chorometrics", Alan Lomax posited that dance arose from customary
work movements and their co-ordination. This idea has been largely
rejected by most ethnochoreologists (okay, anthropologists who study
dance :-) ). Dance and drill does however raise a popular question among
such scholars as to what counts as dance and what doesn't. I'm always
intrigued by footage I see on CNN of political movements (sic) in South
Africa, where people seem to be jogging to a beat while engaged in
political activity. Is that dance and what does it imply for broader
social organization? Anyway, just a few thoughts before rushing off to
mold the minds of America's undergraduates. Best, Lynn