In my opinion, Ghost Dances is a tribute to the victims ofthe political oppression in Chile, South America. It portrays the themes oflove and compassion, through death which is shown in particularly by the’ghosts’. These themes are expressed throughout the piece and are unravelledslowly.
Christopher Bruce choreographed and designed the set for Ghost Dancesin 1981. This same choreography has been reproduced in 2016 and toured byRambert company. Costumes for this piece were designed by Belinda Scarlett andthe lighting was designed by Nick Chelton. There are two groups of characters in the piece: the’ghosts’ which consists of three male dancers and the ‘dead’ which includes fivefemale and three male dancers. I believe these two groups of characters can bedistinctly recognised by the way in which they move. I think that the ghosts set the piece and control the moodof it. The piece shows life of young people, from all walks of life rich, poorand even different racial groups, before being taken by the ghosts which givesan eerie and intimidating representation of death. For example, the ghosts movewith much stronger dynamics making them seem powerful, -whilst the ‘dead’ dancewith elegance making them appear to be fragile.
This is assisted by the use ofpanpipes being used when the ‘ghosts’ dance. The opening sectionof Ghost Dances is performed by the 3 ghosts. It has moments of stillness, elevation,falling, and turning. Which inspired Christopher Bruce when choreographing thispiece as these movements are a key part of other choreographers’ styles. Forexample, Martha Grahams’ contraction and release technique. It begins with thesound of wind and silence which represents nothingness.
It then develops intoSouth American music when the dancers enter canon and unison movementphrases. Thenext sections of the piece are light hearted which is shown by ‘the dead’ charactersand the folk music used. Within these sections there is some contact work andthe use of traditional folk steps. Some motifs are repeated. An example ofthis, is the 3 ghosts do a plie motif, which is then later repeated by theother males. This may represent the males trying to take on the physicality ofthe ghosts.
The final section (Ojo Azules) which is where the ghosts appear fromupstage. They repeat the linked arm motif seen previously in the piece. This presents thepiece as cyclical, ending in the same way it began.I have also watched Rambert perform a piece called Goatwhich is very contrasting to Ghost Dances.
Goat was created as new dancetheatre creation for Ben Duke, whereas Ghost Dances was created to express theworld in a different way and to show controversial topics such as social,cultural or political issues which Christopher Bruce uses as stimuli for mostof his pieces. The music for Ghost Dances is South American folk songs arrangedby Nicolas Carr. Music is played live similar to the piece Goat. The auralsetting of Goat also had a selection of songs performed by Nina Simone, and alive onstage band led by jazz singer Nia Lynn, but is also combined with theuse of text by one individual. I believe Goat is contrasting to Ghost Dancesbecause, although it looks at issues in the world around, it looks at it from away of managing them and stopping them affecting you, whereas Ghost Danceslooks at political issues and how they trap those who want to be free.