Browsing Drama dance and performing arts by Subjects
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Dance, diaspora and the role of the archives: a dialogic reflection upon the Black Dance Arcives Project (UK)The Black Dance Archives project collected materials that record the activities of black British artists who created and performed dance predominantly in the later years of the twentieth century. Through the form of a dialogue we bring the perspective of the dance producer who led the project together with a more academic interest in the potential of the materials collected to contribute to dance research. Our shared reflections reveal how a focus on archiving the work of dance artists of diasporic heritage emphasizes that dance, as a form of intangible cultural heritage, is particularly vulnerable to becoming lost to future generations. This leads to reflections upon the role of dance archives within the context of post-colonial Britain that brings to the fore some of the complexities of the archival process and the significance of how this project resulted in materials being dispersed across different institutions.
Diasporic experience and the archival process: reflections upon the initial phase of the Black Dance Archives project (UK)State of Trust has been funded to archive ‘collections from eminent individuals and organisations from the British Black dance sector’ (http://blackdancearchives.co.uk/). The Black Dance Archive may be considered as a ‘contingent, dynamic and transformative site’ (Heathfield 2012, 238) whose presence facilitates an historical ‘re-remembering’ (Bindas 2010). It stands as the site of negotiation between ‘Black British’ dance artists and the ‘archontic principle’ (Derrida, 1995) through which the archive retains the traces of a power that consigns documents to their place within a (dominant) signifying system. Through a diaologic, reflective and trans-disciplinary process, we consider the role of the performance archive within the context of decolonisation. For those artists whose work is included, the transition of artefacts from private to public space marks a legitimization that nevertheless is fraught with the risk of appropriation. The archival process repeats previous tensions between hegemonic dance discourses and the artists’ aims to respond authentically to their lived diasporic experiences. The archive also marks a coming to terms with, even a mourning of, a past that for many of the artists was already shaped by a sense of loss. If, ‘the theory of psychoanalysis… becomes a theory of the archive and not only a theory of memory’ (Derrida 1995, p.18 ), can this archive be conceptualised and experienced in ways that allow for recognition of the lived trauma of diasporic experience while also celebrating how such experiences engendered new danced identities?