In my opinion, Ghost Dances is a tribute to the victims of
the political oppression in Chile, South America. It portrays the themes of
love and compassion, through death which is shown in particularly by the
‘ghosts’. These themes are expressed throughout the piece and are unravelled
slowly. Christopher Bruce choreographed and designed the set for Ghost Dances
in 1981. This same choreography has been reproduced in 2016 and toured by
Rambert company. Costumes for this piece were designed by Belinda Scarlett and
the 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 five
female and three male dancers. I believe these two groups of characters can be
distinctly recognised by the way in which they move.                                   

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I think that the ghosts set the piece and control the mood
of it. The piece shows life of young people, from all walks of life rich, poor
and even different racial groups, before being taken by the ghosts which gives
an eerie and intimidating representation of death. For example, the ghosts move
with much stronger dynamics making them seem powerful, -whilst the ‘dead’ dance
with elegance making them appear to be fragile. This is assisted by the use of
panpipes being used when the ‘ghosts’ dance. 

 The opening section
of Ghost Dances is performed by the 3 ghosts. It has moments of stillness, elevation,
falling, and turning. Which inspired Christopher Bruce when choreographing this
piece as these movements are a key part of other choreographers’ styles. For
example, Martha Grahams’ contraction and release technique. It begins with the
sound of wind and silence which represents nothingness. It then develops into
South American music when the dancers enter canon and unison movement
phrases.                             The
next sections of the piece are light hearted which is shown by ‘the dead’ characters
and the folk music used. Within these sections there is some contact work and
the use of traditional folk steps. Some motifs are repeated. An example of
this, is the 3 ghosts do a plie motif, which is then later repeated by the
other males. This may represent the males trying to take on the physicality of
the ghosts.                                                                                                       
The final section (Ojo Azules) which is where the ghosts appear from
upstage. They repeat the linked

arm motif seen previously in the piece. This presents the
piece as cyclical, ending in the same way it began.

I have also watched Rambert perform a piece called Goat
which is very contrasting to Ghost Dances. Goat was created as new dance
theatre creation for Ben Duke, whereas Ghost Dances was created to express the
world in a different way and to show controversial topics such as social,
cultural or political issues which Christopher Bruce uses as stimuli for most
of his pieces. The music for Ghost Dances is South American folk songs arranged
by Nicolas Carr. Music is played live similar to the piece Goat. The aural
setting of Goat also had a selection of songs performed by Nina Simone, and a
live onstage band led by jazz singer Nia Lynn, but is also combined with the
use of text by one individual. I believe Goat is contrasting to Ghost Dances
because, although it looks at issues in the world around, it looks at it from a
way of managing them and stopping them affecting you, whereas Ghost Dances
looks at political issues and how they trap those who want to be free.

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