1. Meanings of “Action” in Jean-Georges Noverre Jean-Georges Noverre, one of the most prominent figures in Western dance history, is often referred to as a leading exponent of the concept of “ballet d'action”. However, we have first to note that he never employs the expression “ballet d'action” in his work entitled Lettres sur la danse, et sur les ballets. This fact suggests that the concept of “ballet d'action” is not as fixed nor as self-evident in Noverre as we would think today. By carefully reading his Lettres, we come to realize that Noverre seeks to discuss several issues with the expressions “d'action” or “en action”. Therefore, to fully understand Noverre's theory developed in his Lettres, we must clarify what Noverre intends to describe by these expressions. To be more precise, what is in question here is the meanings of the polysemous word “action” in Noverre. 2. “Action” as a principle of composition Today, “ballet d'action” is sometimes translated as “story ballet”. In fact, we can find a more or less corresponding definition of “action” in 18th-century dictionaries, and Noverre himself employs the word “action” with this meaning also. It is especially important to notice that, throughout Lettres, Noverre attaches importance to coherency of “action” by referring to the form “introduction-climax-dénouement”. Here we can observe an echo from his contemporary dramatic theory strongly influenced by the Aristotelian Poetics. Also, we can mention the effect of his rhetoric (use of pictorial metaphor) in his view of “action”. 3. “Action” as a principle of bodily expression However, we have to emphasize that Noverre's “action” has another dimension. According to Noverre, “action, in relation to dancing is the art of transferring out sentiments and passions to the souls of the spectators by means of the true expression of our movements, gestures and features”. Here Noverre is concerned with the art of bodily expression, still employing the word “action”. Undoubtedly, this “action” is correlative to the trend of the age toward reevaluation of bodily expression.
This article presented the historical and sociological aspects of Laban's choreographic idea. Examining Laban's writings in the 1920's, the influence on his movement theory from the contemporary symbology of ancient language in additon to the precedent ballet choreography was discussed. Further analysis revealed the importance of the freemasonic iconology of crystals in the embodiment of his theory in the theater work and mass dance. Finally, referring to the German sociologist Georg Simmel's notion ‘mass ornament, ’ the difference between Laban's representation of mass and that of Nazism was argued.
For the past 25 years my artistic and research interests, as well as my teaching interests, have centered on choreography-the process of creating dances. While much of my time over the years has been occupied working as a choreographer and dancer, I have always been deeply interested in understanding what it means to make a dance, although I did not think of it thus until relatively recently. The movie the Wizard of Oz, an icon of deep cultural meaning to Americans, and I expect maybe to others around the world, ends with Dorothy saying, “There's no place like home.” This is a story about leaving home and coming home.