Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Food, Dance and Tradition

A year or so ago, I read the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and was fascinated by our gathered food knowledge. Before science, how could Mexicans have possibly known that corn supplemented the one nutrient that black beans could not give them? Yet, they ate the two together religiously, as if they knew one without the other was useless.

In fact, it's only recently that we've tried to base our food knowledge on science, which seems to be ineffectual. Our obesity rates and trend diets that change every year or two confirms just that.

As usual, I've related this to dance. In my discussions on traditionality, I touch upon the question of dissecting traditionality. Like deconstructing food, does deconstructing the parts that make up bharatanatyam or classical Indian dance, and then putting them together in new and unexpected ways add up to the sum of its parts? I often wonder if this deconstruction - where we analyze the form, decide that we'll keep pieces of it and discard others to our liking - is a bit like separating the black beans from the corn and deciding to throw away the corn. We've just lost something essential to the dance form, the process, the choreography, and we have no way of knowing it's importance for sure.

Essential to what? That's a good question. I suppose if we go to rasa theory (and my own belief) that you won't ever get to experience truth or that "I've-got-chills-but-this-is-more-than-just-that" feeling by choreographing or dancing in this manner.

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