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Saunders 1 Artifact #1 Research Paper Dance History 461 Cathy Black

Wades World
History is defined as the telling of stories, through various mediums in an attempt to convey meaning and emotion. Whether it be through the written word, dramatic presentation or dance, those tasked with formulating such presentation are true artists. Wade Robson, a well known and rising choreographer, is just that. He has helped in the process of making modern/contemporary dance more well-known and by doing so has created timeless stories that define the human condition (Wade Robson- Official Site). Since Wades early years, he has been interested in dance and choreography (Star Search 1990). At the age of two, after watching Michael Jacksons music video Thriller, he had the entire choreography memorized and perfect. His mother placed him in a Michael Jackson dance contest at the age of five and as a result, ended up winning the grand prize. Robson explained that around eleven years of age he aspired to be a choreographer rather than a dancer (Wade Robson Biography). I wanted to create dance, Robson told a local television newscaster (Wade Robson Interview Part 1). This was the beginning of the award-winning choreographers career. He has now gone on to direct music videos and world tours for numerous pop legends, choreographed for the dance series So You Think You Can Dance (in which he has won a number of Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography), and the executive producer and choreographer for a MTV production, The Wade Robson Project (Hansen). Due to Wade Robsons success as a

Saunders 2 choreographer, he has been a huge influence on how people view the current contemporary/modern style through his completely original and unique choreography, use and balance between technique and emotion, and his ability to portray a story through each and every dance. Wade Robson has created a new language for dance. When asked in a interview what dance style his choreography was, Wade stated that he constantly tries to stay away from his choreography being categorized as a specific style (Wade Robson- Interview). Due to his lack of classical training, Robson tends to take things from every dance style, mix them, and form a new dance form- his own (W. Robson - Official Site). We have seen this formation of new dance styles throughout dance history. Martha Graham, one of the pioneers of modern dance, made a huge impact on dance. [Her] influence on dance can be compared to the influence Stravinsky had on music, Picasso had on the visual arts, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture (About the Dancer). Martha Graham took a risk. She branched out from the balletic styles that were popular during that time and created a new style, known as modern dance (Martha Graham). I am a firm believer that our dance society is in desperate need a of a new dance form. This new style is being created by Wade Robson. Since he has had the opportunity to publicize his choreography through television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and The Wade Robson Project, Robson is making his new style more known to the world and letting people realize that new styles are evolving and being embraced by the public. There are many contributing factors in the creation of a dance piece. Costumes, props, and music all play a major role in creating a specific atmosphere. Alwin Nikolais was a modern dance choreographer who focused on the theory of decentralization. Alwin suggested that

Saunders 3 decentralization could allow dancers to be liberated from their own forms through costume and design. One distinct factor about Nikolais was the music selection that he used. In a PBS episode about Alwin Nikolais they stated that by using sound collage and changing images projected onto both the stage and the dancers, Nikolais could shift the focus away from any one individual dancer, and concentrate on the overall effect of the production (About Alwin Nikolais). His use of unique music influenced and helped create original dance movement. Like Alwin, Wade believes music is a vital part of a dance. Robson explained if you are going to keep the same music all the time, you are going to have the same movement... (Interview Part 1). As a result, Wade likes to challenge himself by constantly changing his music selections. Due to this contributing factor, Wade Robsons movement in each piece is creative and original. Dance began as a technique-based element in the early 1850s. Marius Petipa, also known as the Father of Classical Ballet, was concerned only with dancers technique (Michelman). As modern dance started to evolve, emotion began to be another contributing factor to the world of dance. As a result, technique started to become less of a requirement. One main thing that I appreciate in Wade Robsons choreography is that he utilizes both emotion and technique. Neither stand out as main contributors in his performances. It is refreshing to see the amount of emotion and love portrayed by the dancers as well as the compliment of training and discipline. While Wade Robson has no formal technical training, thus creating raw and unique movement; he utilizes aspects of training in other dancers to emphasis certain lines and motions (W. Robson- DWTS). Current choreographers are polarized with relation to technique and fluid emotion. There exists a shortage of individuals willing to create a necessary balance between the two. We see

Saunders 4 amazing technicians that can perform unbelievable tricks. Without emotion, it is nothing. A dancer can be extremely passionate about dance. Without technique, it is nothing. Martha Graham stated that Dancers today can do anything; the technique is phenomenal. The passion and the meaning to their movement can be another thing (About the Dancer). In order to truly be a great dancer there is a need for both passion and technique. Wade Robsons choreography is allowing dancers to show their potential and succeed in their doings. His choreography allows room for dancers to grow and for the audience to absorb what they have witnessed. Last, Wade Robsons choreography always tells a story. He explained that in each piece he creates, a story is portrayed and that the dancers should be able to feel character through movement (W. Robson- Interview). The process of choreographing a dance begins with Wade and his wife separately listening and recording how the music makes them feel and the story that evolves (Interview Part 1). They both have a love for telling stories and I believe that this is a main reason that his pieces grab such a large audiencepeople can relate to the stories that are told. Robson expressed, I never go for something for the sake of movement, I always want to tell a story (W. Robson- Interview). His stories pull in viewers and creates an audience to be moved and touched. Wades performances can often be viewed as comparative in nature. They each tell a story by having various separate entities/thoughts/individuals interacting between one another. An example of this is on So You Think You Can Dance, the Emmy award-winning dance The Hummingbird and the Flower (Hummingbird +Flower). The couple that performed this embraced their individual characters through their movement. The hummingbird movement was very rigid, twitchy, and jerky, while the flower showed movements that were

Saunders 5 more flowing, free, and graceful. Another one, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, was danced by Ben Susak and Pam Chu and choreographed by Wade Robson (Burning Room). In this piece, the viewers are able to grasp the story concept of a struggling relationship and the battles that are faced between the couple. The story is successfully told through Wades movement and is able to emotionally impact the audience. Finally, another Emmy awardwinning piece, Ramalama Bang Bang, performed on So You Think You Can Dance, was able to create an eerie, almost disturbing atmosphere in which the dancers took on the characters of zombies (Ramalama Bang Bang). Altogether, Wade Robsons choreography allows the portrayal of stories, which gives the opportunity for the audience to be part of a interactive experience. Wade Robson, with or without knowing, has taken elements from dance history and styles from prominent choreographers and has thus combined them into a harmonious display of form and emotion. Through the various elements of Wades choreographic style: originality, balanced blend of emotion and technique, and use of characterization, dancers and non-dancers are currently experiencing new forms of dance. Due to the wide spread of Robsons choreography, people around the world are able to be more educated about modern/contemporary fusion dance forms and as a result are beginning to explore a new form of dance. The stories that are told by Wade touch our hearts and enrich our minds. When looking to the past, certain individuals stand out and are praised for their vision and ability to challenge the status quo. With an individual such as Wade Robson we are certainly seeing history in the making.

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Works Cited
"About Alwin Nikolais/ American Masters/ PBS." Alwin Nikolais. PBS Video, 12 March 2005. Web. 7 Apr 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/alwin-nikolais/about-alwinnikolais/674/>. About the Dancer/ American Masters/ PBS. Martha Graham. PBS Video, 16 September 2005. Web. 11 Apr 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/martha-graham/ about-the-dancer/497/> Garofoli, Wendy. "Wade Robson: An Innovator at Work." Dance Magazine . March 2008: Print. Hanson, Rachel. "Wade Robson." LoveToKnow everything you'd love to know. LoveToKnow Corp., 2006. Web. 2 Apr 2011. <http://dance.lovetoknow.com/Wade_Robson>. "Homage to the Rabbits." YouTube. Web. 08 Apr 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNSw9bRP5n4>. "Martha Graham." A Dancer's Journal. The Pretoria East Dance Centre, 25 June 2008. Web. 3 Apr 2011. <http://pedc-journal.blogspot.com/2008/06/martha-graham.html>. Michelman, Fran. "Marius Petipa." ABT. Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc., 2003. Web. 4 Apr 2011. <http://www.abt.org/education/archive/choreographers/petipa_m.html>. "SYTYCD Hok & Jaimie- Hummingbird + Flower." YouTube. Web. 8 Apr 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRWdIwCGjbE>. "STYTCD Top 10 Ramalama Bang Bang." YouTube. Web. 1 Apr 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g-kxL-OR74>. "The Wade Robson Project - Michael Jackson Tribute." YouTube. Web. 10 Apr 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYbLsNuUH0s>. "Wade Robson Biography." BuddyTV. BuddyTV, 2005. Web. 1 Apr 2011. <http://www.buddytv.com/info/wade-robson-info.aspx>. "Wade Robson- Burning Room- Ben Susak & Pam Chu." YouTube. Web. 6 Apr 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk9-qH5fyTU>. "Wade Robson - DWTS." YouTube. Web. 3 Apr 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84_mhx69YA4>.

Saunders 7 "Wade Robson Interview Part 1." Web. 9 Apr 2011. <http://wn.com/wade_robson_interview_part_1>. "Wade Robson-Interview." Web. 6 Apr 2011. <http://wn.com/wade_robson_interview_part_1>. "Wade Robson on Star Search 1990." Youtube. Web. 29 March 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d33-HgdZbI>. "Wade Robson." The Official Site of Choreographer, Director, Music Producer Wade Robson. Wade Robson, 29 October 2010. Web.11 Apr 2011. <http://waderobson.com/>. "Wade Robson." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc., 02 April 2011. Web. 11 Apr 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade_Robson>.