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Forums > Social Chat > Inspired By or True Form: A culturally based question

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Okay. I am a performer and I am an inquisitive person completely in love with the world around. There are soooo many rich and vibrant cultures which have incredible art and traditions, I just love to gobble it all up.

However, as much as I love learning and experiencing these traditions, I also like to be inspired by them to do more, or incorporate them in modern ways.
Poi is a good example of this. I am pretty certain that the Maori never intended for me to have 5 wicks on one and flinging it around adeptly when they conceived of poi ever so long ago. In fact, the probably thought it would not leave their island. In it's modern incarnation it is an art form that is inspired by a cultural tradition.
Blending these traditions into something new is fusion.
I am in a fusion dance troupe. To me this means experimentation, drawing from the world cultures to enhance or create art. I am doing a duet with one very talented dancer who is insisting that the dance be culturally true to form, but I am not from that culture. I was never embraced by it's citizens and taught the truth of the traditions, and so therefore I only view the dance as being one that was inspired, and am not happy with some of the turns it is taking.

Now, I am not saying I do not absolutely love learning the traditional ways. I do, with a passion. But I also know that if art forms do not progress, they die. And that is a shame. I know that to some cultures people who attempt to do something true to form, without the proper "permission" or authentic guidence is insulting. I adapt those things I feel I can best represent to what I am doing in search of education and in some sense preservation...but not to a pristine level. I think that type of preservation is for the people of the culture to pass on, not for me to assume I know all about from reading or taking a slight workshop without cultural emersion.

So what do you think? Keep things through to cultural tradition or fuse them with other things to let them grow, possibly into a new tradtion (like with poi)?

Thanks!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Kaji


Kaji

Quantum Theorist
Location: Vansterdam

Total posts: 564
Posted:Fusion!!!

If humans don't learn to keep an open mind; to accept change; to try new things; and to live with (and accept) the people around them; we will die out.

It's all about PLUR. (For those of you who don't know what PLUR means)

Peace
Love
Unity
Respect

You're not being disrespectful to a tradition because you change it or addapt it to something new. It's called progress, so many things that make our lifes wonderful come out of not only progress but cultural progress. Music, Literature, art.

And ask yourselfs what if:
What if Ghandi never developed the passive agressive system? Would India suffered a bloody conflict for freedom? Would Russia (then the USSR) have gone through an other "Change... though violent revolution", or would they still be a Stalinist State (We could still be in a cold war).

What if Penicillen (sp?) was never developed? How many people would die from diseases that could be easly cured by it?

What if we (as most of u live in culturally diverse countries) never adopted cultural and religious tolerance? I'm Wiccan (and so are a few others on this board, including Pele I believe) would they still be trying to (to quote Inkubuss Sukkubus) "Burn Witches, Pagans, Jews".

Peace in which to live your life
Love towards your fellow humans
Unity between People, cultures, and the old, and the new.
Respect to the Old and the new, and the people and cultures that make it all possible.

PEACE


In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird, now the world is weird and they take prozac to make it normal again.

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Durbs
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England

Total posts: 5688
Posted:This may be a dumb (and probably naive) question - but having never seen "traditional" Maori Poi performed before - which moves do they have?
I understand it's a form of dance for them to, but was wondering if they ever use BTB weaves or even the basic 3 beat.
From the little snippets I've seen, it's only ever been basic spinning with the odd Buzzsaw...


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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Cassandra


Cassandra

Froggie ... Ribbit !!!
Location: Back in Paris... for now !

Total posts: 4224
Posted:Do you remember that heated yet fantastic thread we had a year or so ago, pele ? posted by a kiwi about us insulting the maori... ? sorry do not remember, hope somebody will

I think it is a very valid question and i must say there is no definite answer IMO/

Keeping the tradition is healthy and important and I have the greatest respect for the maoris, but if you fall into floklore, you reach a cultural dead end because it is sterile and will die eventually.

poi is still much alive though and the competitions in NZ prove how important the culture is still which i foundfantastic.

Durbs, maori have many different moves : short poi, lots of bouncing on the body in rythm, funky wraps as well . long poi weave and butterfly like moves, 4 poi mainly butterfly. there are some videos online and they are well worth watching of course. check out Waka huia for instance for they are truely amazing. Also poi is just one part of a bigger celebration and goes hand in hand with singing, dancing, telling a story and celebrating life.

travelling in Nz with dom I found there is a real distance, a gap between maoris and local firedancers which in a way is a real shame.

When we got the chance to spend a couple of hours with traditional maori dancers, we realized taht their short poi work is phenomenal, but they have not explored any behind the back and other longer poi moves. They welcomed our input and even tried flags and loved it. It was a fantastic exchange.

We laughed saying : we are corrupting the maori culture, but the truth is those moments are just moments where both parties become richer by sharing their knowledge.

I am not fond of the word fusion. i can see the concept and I like the fact that culture is a dynamic thing which evolves, but I much rather like to think of two cultures meeting and EQUALLY learning from eachother rather than one swallowing the other... yet this is a historical fact, the romans swallowed the greek mythology and made it theirs, the japanese have taken a lot from the chinese and put a peronal touch to it.

Sometimes it is fantastic, sometimes it is disrespectfull... it all depends on the attitude with which you do it I guess...

will come back with more thoughts

Shine on
cass


"I want brown bread... no, that is diesel oil..."
"So I was raised in Europe, where History comes from ..."
"NON !!! La Plume de mon oncle n est pas Bingibangibungi !!!"

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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
Location: London

Total posts: 3149
Posted:quote:Originally posted by Cassandra:
I am not fond of the word fusion. i can see the concept and I like the fact that culture is a dynamic thing which evolves, but I much rather like to think of two cultures meeting and EQUALLY learning from each other rather than one swallowing the other...That is exactly what fusion means, the meeting of two entities to form one entirely new entity. A very funky and nice concept

But to me the word 'Fusion' includes the idea that these two things are forever joined into this new single thing. They are fused together.

Its nicer to think of it as two things meeting, exchanging aspects/concepts/qualities then going their seperate ways still as two unique entities.

When it comes to being disrespectful to Maori traditions or culture through playing with poi, i'd say it comes down to whether you call them poi or not. Many different people throughout history have swung about weights on string\chain whatever. its hardly unique. However, when you use the word "poi" to refer to it, thats directly relating it to that aspect of maori culture and all that brings with it.

Note: i'm not trying to give the impression that i know anything about Maori culture, because i don't.

Equally i'd point out that having respect for someones culture works both ways. MY culture is based on seeking out and using knowledge and skills from any sources it can find.

i say that a particular idea, movement or skill can't belong to any person or culture, whether they were the first to do it or not.
(copyright law disagrees with me )

Final genuinely confused thought: What does 'respect' actually mean?


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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Taniwha


member
Location: Aotearoa

Total posts: 138
Posted:I am maori, and i choose not to speak on the subject in which i an qualified.

I wish other's also chose that option, instead of talking about things they obviously know nothing about.

Mate atu he toa/ ara mai ra he toa.

[ 27. April 2003, 00:56: Message edited by: Raging Dragon ]


Its all just smoke and mirrors

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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
Location: London

Total posts: 3149
Posted:i preferred your unedited reply where you did choose to talk about it

seriously dude, what harm or disrespect is there in discussing maori culture. Of course i know nothing about it if you choose not to tell me.


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Can I say this? The form of poi that we do is not Maori, and I never said it was. It is inspired by it, for certain, and by many other aspects. The cultural purity is not in question. I have done much research about the culture, as I do with all of my performing arts...all of them.

Fusion will happen, no matter what any culture says. The Maori are not the only ones in the world with a history of poi-esque spinning, and if the word didn't come from them, it would have come from elsewhere, because truly, that and the basic design are really all that was taken from such a lovely culture. I fully admit it, because I respect the culture. And when I do shows, I explain it as such.

To tell you the everything, this idea for me was Never based in poi, it was an example with which you are all familiar. My question stemmed from a dance duet that I am doing and the fact that it is not a culturally true dance, and I like it that way (we are doing weave movements in an Arabic dance which only uses basic spin moves). My partner insists we wear a facial thing to make it more authentic for the 3 audience members who know about the dance. I say no. What we are doing is not tradtional, it is inspired by, and we should not tout it as something it is not. I find that disrespectful. That and I don't want to wear the face veil. What I was told in the end was that she could do it alone, even though I helped choreograph and have worked really hard on it too.

It also came from a Guedra song that I am to sing for my group, I have written directions for it and a supposedly authentic recording, and they do not jive. So the issue then becomes which source is accurate for the most accurate representation?

I think if we were to say the dance is true or perform the song incorrectly then that is where the insult would lay.

And this crosses many arts as Frost pointed out. My favorite examples are Tatoo's and piercings, which no one culture in the world can own or say that they are culturally insulting because the history and cultural diversity of tat's so incredibly wide spread, no culture can own the idea of tat's/piercings anywhere...or even basic designs/patterns (the more intricate ones yes..)
Cass, yes I do remember that thread, but this was just different enough... and that one was very angry....

Thanks for the answers. I am finding this really interesting, and helpful.

[ 27. April 2003, 03:46: Message edited by: Pele ]


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Cantus
SILVER Member since Jul 2001

Cantus

Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road

Total posts: 15965
Posted:I remember that thread too Cass. This one is very different to that I think.

This wasn't started by a troll for a start...


"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
"...like a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Story time: When I was in college, our co-op had a "sweat lodge" out back. This is an insulated structure where hot rocks are placed in the middle and we get in and pour water on the rocks. It's like a sauna but much more so...and more spiritual.

Now, sweats were originally done by Native Americans as a purifying ritual. So the Native American student group on our campus got very up-in-arms about the fact that we were doing sweats. But our sweats were nothing like theirs. We weren't even pretending to be Native Americans in the process (although one of us was and was very irritated at all this).

Then I found a website that basically said there were two forms of sweats, "traditional" as done by the Native Americans, and "new age" done by hippies (that's us!). The differences are many. We don't say prescribed chants or prayers, we go in naked, they go wearing bathing trunks, and others.

I think that applies here. We call our art "poi" and in the most basic form, twirling a weight on a chain or cord, it is poi. But we do "new age" poi. I would very much like to learn traditional poi to honor the tradition that inspired our art, but I would never perform traditional poi. That's a Maori art, best done by Maori.

New-Age poi and Maori poi are as different from each-other as a sparrow and a 747.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Cassandra


Cassandra

Froggie ... Ribbit !!!
Location: Back in Paris... for now !

Total posts: 4224
Posted:Simian, I think fusionas it is used now means sometimes one culture using another one to grow and learn, not always an actual exchange. Some musicians have called their music fusion when all they did was use some music from some far away people without their consentment ...

Raging dragon, i find it so sad that you do not want to discuss it with us... And I have to say i find it insulting that you ask us not to discuss anything. I assume your post is mainly aimed at me, having said what i said but beleive me I am far from thinking I know anything, was just sharing thoughts and exploring. Would much love to hear what you think and feel since you are one of the few people who are blessed with being in touch with both communities.

Shine on
cass


"I want brown bread... no, that is diesel oil..."
"So I was raised in Europe, where History comes from ..."
"NON !!! La Plume de mon oncle n est pas Bingibangibungi !!!"

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:I'm confused with Raging Dragon's comments...

At what point was anyone quote: talking about things they obviously know nothing about.
All I can see is people asking questions and defining what their views are on this topic.

What can Dragon see that I can't....


HoP Posting Guidelines
* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
* Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

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Pele'sWhippingBoy


member
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

Total posts: 442
Posted:quote:Originally posted by Raging Dragon:
I am maori, and i choose not to speak on the subject in which i an qualified.

I wish other's also chose that option, instead of talking about things they obviously know nothing about.We would appreciate people explaining their thoughts on things. This is a discussion thread about how she should go about her dancing issues with her partner. Her partner is forcing an unreasonable dance form by wanting to be traditional in a non-traditional dance. To me that seems rather odd.

I would like to know how Raging Dragon is qualified to assist people in these problems? Are you a specialist in dealing with inter-group problems involving costumes and choreography? If you are I'm sure she would love to hear your thoughts on dealing with this subject. However, I am unsure as to how being Maori makes a difference in this situation.

btw, what is the quote at the bottom of your post?
quote:Mate atu he toa/ ara mai ra he toa.(I edited some spelling errors in my post.)


FYI: I am not Pele. If you wish to reply to me and use a short version of my name, use: PWB.

English? Who needs that? I'm never going to England. - Homer Jay Simpson

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Charles, check your email, as I am lost too! If we are ignorant it is only because people choose to not help educate us.


I think I want to clarify how the term "fusion" is being used when applied to the dance I do. The actual name for the style of dance is World or Global Fusion and what this does is take steps or movements from different dances from around the world and blend them into one choreography. One I am working on now blends Middle Eastern, Roma, Flamenco, Tap and African movements and even a bit of Steppin might be added in. It is not really creating a new style of dance at all, and no one style is swallowing another, but more utilizing exsisting ones to blend into a new choreography. HOWEVER, I still do dance the traditional dances as well, to traditional music, so that the steps in the fusion dances look accurate and sound and so that my/our audience gets a nice rounded flavor. At the end of one of our shows the audience is filled with Middle Eastern, African, and other folk dances, as well as our creations. That is what Fusion is all about.
Does that make sense?


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Kaji


Kaji

Quantum Theorist
Location: Vansterdam

Total posts: 564
Posted:quote:Originally posted by Raging Dragon:
I wish other's also chose that option, instead of talking about things they obviously know nothing about.I was under the impression that this was really about the fusion of any tradition. Not just poi!
Like the one back in the 40's and 50's when western music was mixed with african style music and we got good old rock and roll.

[EDIT: Deep breath.... PLUR back to PLUR, sorry I lapsed]

[ 29. April 2003, 14:18: Message edited by: DJ Dimples aka DJ Reegz aka Frost ]


In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird, now the world is weird and they take prozac to make it normal again.

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Pele'sWhippingBoy


member
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

Total posts: 442
Posted:Frost, I do not think that posting in anger will help our lovely Pele with her dancing partner woes.

I am basing my discussion on the topic at hand and the actual terms used. Raging Dragon stated that he does not wish to help Pele with her dancing partner. He stated that he is qualified to assist her but refuses to. Personally I find that rather rude. I suppose he gets paid to professionaly help people with their problems, but if that is the case, then why tease us with that information?

I think that her partner should be willing to comprimise a little bit and realize that if you are performing in a non-traditional dance, then you should not be forced to use a traditional outfit. It does not make much sense. It makes more sense to embrace the "fusion" style of dance and fuse the forms into what you are doing. I also feel that as a performer you should cater to your audience. If only 3 members of the audience will appreciate it and the others may not like it at all, go for the majority. The 3 that notice can still be impressed with dancing prowess. If they want authentic they can go overseas and see it themselves.


FYI: I am not Pele. If you wish to reply to me and use a short version of my name, use: PWB.

English? Who needs that? I'm never going to England. - Homer Jay Simpson

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Glåss
PLATINUM Member since Nov 2001

Glåss

The Ministry of Manipulation
Location: Bristol

Total posts: 2523
Posted:Frost: quote:...I'm going to come down there playing my bag pipes and shove them down your throat. Frost higher up thread:
quote:Its all about PLUR. You said it, now Chill dudes.


[ 29. April 2003, 06:16: Message edited by: Glss ]


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Gidg
BRONZE Member since Apr 2003

Gidg

Super Gidg!!!!
Location: Portland Oregon USA

Total posts: 8506
Posted:I am a Polynesian dancer and know what you are going through. There are some that are very traditional in their approach; being white I get questioned by blood Hawaiians why I am doing their dance. Then there are others that find it a compliment that someone outside of the culture want to dance. Even in Hawaiian dance you have traditional and modern. Those that embrace the modern have brought in other cultural moves, jazz and waltz, and made it fit in the new style.

I totally agree with PWB. Speak with this dance partner explaining you view and concerns. While traditional moves are great, its the more modern/flashy moves that the audience likes and remembers. If we perform for a group that has lived in the Hawaiian culture, we pull out the more traditional routines. While for a group that has no exposure the more modern routines and music go over better.

But the bottom line is, who will be willing to give so this number can be performed? After speaking with your partner, will she be willing to go with a more modern approach? Or will you need to go with the traditional approach? How bad do you both want to perform this piece to make the concessions that will be needed?


Growing old is mandatory; growing up is NOT.
Proud member of the HoP DPS.
Sanity is a highly overrated state of mind.
I'm normal ... it's everyone else that's crazy.

Gidg

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Kaji


Kaji

Quantum Theorist
Location: Vansterdam

Total posts: 564
Posted:quote:Originally posted by Glss:

quote:Its all about PLUR. You said it, now Chill dudes.
Chilled (and edited)


In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird, now the world is weird and they take prozac to make it normal again.

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Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:that's a tricky one Pele - and I know you said it was a duet, but could you have one of you doing the 'traditional' take on the dance followed by the fusion interpretation? Do both in other words? One leading the other on stage - the fusion following on from the traditional, evolving, something fluid snaking around the stage......

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Ade, I wish we could as I think that is the best route, but with the form of dance it is (Melayaa) it would only end up looking sloppy, like one of us is 1/2 beat behind kind of thing... and she doesn't want to sacrifice the poi moves that she should be proud of learning, and I am not strong enough in this form of dance to do the traditional any real justice, which is why I really want to say that it is inspired, you know? I wanted to do that with the costumes, where she wears the original and I don't, as the difference is chewing gum like a cow and wearing a shortened face veil for part of the time (it's in the tradtional version). But she is a real stickler for continuity.
The show is this Saturday, I will let you all know what comprimise, agreement we come to on this.

This situation also applies to a Guedra (a Morrocan call and answer song) that we will be doing. I am to arrange it and lead the call and answer section. Because it is a spiritual song, we want to do it as traditionally as possible, but herein comes all this conflicting "historic" presentations about it. I have a recording, but according to the write up it is not authentic. I just don't know. Again, I would rather announce it that this is our version of a traditional song rather than just the traditional, so that I can cover our arses in case the reports or recordings were wrong. You know?

I feel that is the most respectful way to handle these things. I think???

Thanks for the help, to those that helped. I really appreciate it!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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