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Why choreography and architecture? Both are visual art forms based on three-dimensional design. Both create vocabularies in space in order to express or communicate. Both are highly collaborative: in architecture there is the marriage of site and structure, in choreography, of music and movement. Perhaps these intertwined relations are seen most clearly in Fallingwater's majestic cantilever over Bear Run Creek, and in Martha Graham's powerful response to Aaron Copland's score, Appalachian Spring. Both Fallingwater and Appalachian Spring are bound to their settings, yet each enriches the site or score immeasurably.
The similarities between choreography and architecture oscillate between the obvious and the contrived. Unlike architecture, dance is ephemeral and subject to human variables which are, by nature, unpredictable. Choreography is dependent on the human dancer and therefore subject to multitudinous interpretations and manifestations. The architect's product is as solid as the building, but the architect's design is no less spontaneous than the choreographer's. Both art forms are subject to gravity, to expression and to structure—for the choreographer, structure involves both the dancer's individual body and the group's compositional organization. Both are collaborative forms: music and dance, costume and movement partner one another as structural engineering must support the design, the site, the building.
In the 1950s, the world saw the birth, growth, and development of a new dance genre, the choreographic creations of the professional state folk dance ensemble (1). The genesis of what became a worldwide phenomenon of professional, semi-professional and amateur folk dance ensembles, with the notable exception of the capitalistic Western powers and Japan, began, in my opinion, in response to the extraordinary success of the Ensemble of Folk Dances of the Peoples of the Soviet Union, known in the West as the Moiseyev Dance Company, under the artistic direction of founder Igor Moiseyev. This ensemble was begun in 1937 at the onset of World War II, but its major impact began with the political reformation of the world in the aftermath of the war. During this period the U.S.S.R.'s direct political domination of Eastern Europe and popularity and influence in other regions of the world led to widespread emulation of the Soviet model of different types of institutions, including the formation of professional state-sponsored dance companies. This dance symbol became so crucial that a small nation like Bulgaria had seventeen professional folk song and dance ensembles by the 1980s (Ilieva 1994, 35).
What kind of “symbol making behavior” is “dance”? At this point in history, are most scholars inclined to believe that “dance” is actually many symbol-making behaviors within time? “Dancing,” a human activity, occurs in myriad forms, both now and in the past. This warm-up accents the ramifications of adopting an historical perspective to describe “dance.” As might the Annalist Fernand Braudel, let me propose that dance media “should fit into time which carries life ceaselessly along” (Braudel 1980, 69). By “dance media,” I recognize every “dance” form which is tacitly legitimated within a social group. Every dance medium is a socially particular manner of constructing movement within a social group. There may be a scholar who argues that there is a dance medium which is not socially legitimated, but in turn, what data shows that such a medium exists? “Dance” should give way to dance media, a plural term.
As experimental research becomes more common in the world of dance, the ethical issues involved in conducting such research increase in importance. While several fields have identified ethical standards to guide researchers in their fields, standards for research with dancers have yet to appear.
In the absence of standards tailored for research with dancers, researchers might adapt the standards of related fields or use a personal code that seems appropriate to their situation. However, researcher backgrounds differ and researchers have a particularly strong interest in seeing their projects succeed, so there is no guarantee that every researcher will employ sufficient standards. Specifying an appropriate set of guidelines for research with dancers could be helpful to dance researchers, organizations that sponsor research with dancers, and dancers who participate in research. The purpose of this article is to propose a set of ethical standards for experimental research with dancers.