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14.30  Heritagization of the Leisure Activity Dance: Does it Matter?

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13:30, Tuesday 7 Jun 2016 (30 minutes)

This paper will explore the continuity and the changes of the lived experience of traditional and social dancing in a rural community in Norway. Previous research in the field of ethnochoreology in Europe analyzed traditional dancing either as a process of revival, where dance is regarded, for example, as a leisure activity or as a safeguarding project, or as a form of socialization and, therefore, an integral part of the community. In my research, I have found that these spheres in fact co-exist and mutually influence each other, producing tensions and negotiations, both of which have positive impact on contemporary dancing situations. I will share insights from these processes, bringing fieldwork material from participant observation, qualitative and elicitation interviews, and filmed dancing; material generated as a part of my forthcoming doctorate dissertation, “The transmission of Pols in past and present. Investigating dance as Intangible Cultural Heritage.” 

 “Pols” is a regional participatory couple dance that still exists as a social dance within the community, alongside the popular nineteenth-century European round dance forms such as the waltz or polka and the twentieth-century highly popular swing. Pols is considered today to be a part of a community's heritage. Its heritagization within and outside the community has led to increased awareness and safeguarding attempts as well as formal teaching as an entry gate to social dance parties. The revival groups have used their local community name as marker connected to the dance, and this has caused some confusion over ownership amongst adjacent communities in the region of Trøndelag. There is a tendency for fewer public parties, with decreased attendance as well as less dancing. There is also less formal teaching activity across all dance forms. This is problematic for different stakeholders, but many inhabitants are most concerned about how to maintain a vibrant community in the future. Will the dancing activities still be the leisure activity where they can “interact” as members of a community? One solution has been to establish small annual festivals and events, and some people have dared to establish various cultural industries. These efforts have led to optimism by giving new frames to old activities. The dancing parties with couple dancing have continued also within these new frames. Paradoxically, Pols is absent from these parties, but maybe it is more important to uphold the notion of being a dancing community rather than maintain one kind of dance? Dancing as leisure activity is, therefore, still part of social life and recognized as the community’s tradition. As for the dancing of Pols, it continues in the sphere of heritage formation.

Siri Mæland


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