Daniel Gwirtzman attended the 24th Annual National Dance Education Organization conference Let’s Make Dance Together: Reigniting The Creative Spark, October 29-31, 2022. He presented Abandoning the French: Reimagining Our Language, an interactive movement workshop and lecture/conversation.
Daniel writes: "It’s not easy to let go of things we use reflexively, and often, unthinkingly. In the dance world, in so many sectors and scenarios, the French terminology directs movement that is taken for granted. While there is no bias against the French, the etymology, or the historical artform, there is an opportunity as we re-ignite to re-examine the pervasive use of ballet-derived vocabulary to movements within most genres of dance."
In his session Daniel made the case that it is time to leave this historical-cultural bias aside. He demonstrated that it is a doable fix to make, requiring rigorous mindfulness. How often does the term plié surface in the studio? What place does it have outside of the ballet class or ballet repertory? Daniel suggests that Westernized, Eurocentered vocabulary may not serve our students well in learning other dance forms, perpetuating a perspective that inherently prevents a common experience for those with different cultural backgrounds and dance experiences, and denying the opportunities for each form to be recognized, described, and exalted on their own unique terms.