- Performing arts
The performing arts are those forms of
artwhich differ from the plastic artsinsofar as the former uses the artist's own body, faceand presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metalor paintwhich can be molded or transformed to create some physical art object. The term "performing arts" first appeared in the English language in the year 1711.
Types of performing arts
The Performing arts include the
dance, music, opera, theater, and circus arts.
Artists who participate in these arts in front of an audience are called performers, including
actors, comedians, dancers, musicians, and singers. Performing arts are also supported by workers in related fields, such as songwritingand stagecraft.
Performers often adapt their appearance, such as with
costumes and stage makeup, etc.
There is also a specialized form of
fine artin which the artists "perform" their work live to an audience. This is called Performance art. Most performance art also involves some form of plastic art, perhaps in the creation of props. Dance was often referred to as a "plastic art" during the Modern danceera.
Music as an academic discipline mainly focuses on two career paths, music
performance(focused on the orchestraand the concert hall) and music education(training music teachers). Students learn to play instruments, but also study music theory, musicology, history of musicand composition. In the arts tradition, music is also used to broaden skills of non-musicians by teaching skills such as concentration and listening.
Theatre or theater (Greek "theatron", "θέατρον") is the branch of the performing arts concerned with
actingout storiesin front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle — indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style of plays, theatre takes such forms as Musicals, opera, ballet, Illusion, mime, classical Indian dance, kabuki, mummers' plays, Improvisational theatre, stand-up comedy, pantomimeand Non-conventional or Arthousetheatre.
"Dance" is also used to describe methods of
non-verbal communication(see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance, mating dance), motion in inanimate objects ("the leavesdanced in the wind"), and certain musical forms or genres. Choreographyis the art of making dances, and the person who does this is called a choreographer.
Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural,
aesthetic artisticand moralconstraints and range from functional movement (such as Folk dance) to codified, virtuosotechniques such as ballet. In sports, gymnastics, figure skatingand synchronized swimmingare "dance" disciplines while Martial arts'kata' are often compared to dances.
History of Western performing arts
Starting in the 6th century BC, the Classical period of performing art began in
Greece, ushered in by the tragic poets such as Sophocles. These poets wrote plays which, in some cases, incorporated dance (see Euripides). The Hellenistic period began the widespread use of comedy.
However, by the 6th century AD, Western performing arts had been largely ended, as the
Dark Agesbegan. Between the 9th century and 14th century, performing art in the West was limited to religious historical enactments and morality plays, organized by the Church in celebration of holy days and other important events.
In the 15th century performing arts, along with the arts in general, saw a revival as the Renaissance began in
Italyand spread throughout Europeplays, some of which incorporated dance were performed and Domenico da Piacenzawas credited with the first use of the term "ballo" (in "De Arte Saltandi et Choreas Ducendi") instead of "danza" (dance) for his "baletti" or "balli" which later came to be known as Ballets. The first Ballet "per se" is considered to be Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx's Ballet Comique de la Reine(1581).
By the mid-16th century
commedia dell'artebecame popular in Europe, introducing the use of improvisation. This period also introduced the Elizabethan masque, featuring music, dance and elaborate costumes as well as professional theatrical companies in England. William Shakespeare's plays in the late 16th century developed from this new class of professional performance.
In 1597, the first
opera, Dafnewas performed and throughout the 17th century, opera would rapidly become the entertainment of choice for the aristocracyin most of Europe, and eventually for large numbers of people living in cities and towns throughout Europe.
The introduction of the
proscenium archin Italy during the 17th century established the traditional theater form that persists to this day. Meanwhile, in England, the Puritansforbid acting, bringing a halt to performing arts which lasted until 1660. After this period, women began to appear in both French and English plays. The French introduced a formal dance instruction in the late 17th century.
It is also during this time that the first plays were performed in the
During the 18th century the introduction of the popular opera buffa brought opera to the masses as an accessible form of performance. Mozart's "
The Marriage of Figaro" and " Don Giovanni" are landmarks of the late 18th century opera.
At the turn of the 19th century Beethoven and the
Romantic movementushered in a new era that lead first to the spectacles of grand operaand then to the great musical dramas of Giuseppe Verdiand the Gesamtkunstwerk(total work of art) of the operas of Richard Wagnerleading directly to the music of the 20th century.
The 19th century was a period of growth for the performing arts for all social classes, the technical introduction of gaslight to theaters in the
United States, burlesque(a British import that became popular in the U.S.), minstrel dancing, and variety theater. In ballet, women make great progress in the previously male-dominated art. Modern dancebegan in the late 19th century and early 20th century in response to the restrictions of traditional ballet. Konstantin Stanislavski's "System" revolutionized acting in the early 20th century, and continues to have a major influence on actors of stage and screen to the current day. Both impressionismand modern realismwere introduced to the stage during this period.
With the invention of the motion picture in the late 19th century by
Thomas Edison, and the growth of the motion picture industryin Hollywoodin the early 20th century, film became a dominant performance medium throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Darktown Folliesand the later cultural growth of the Harlem Renaissancespanned the 1910s to the early 1940s. Rhythm and blues, a cultural phenomenon of black America became a distinctive genera in the early 20th century.
In the 1930s
Jean Rosenthalintroduced what would be come modern stage lighting, changing the nature of the stage as the Broadway musicalbecame a phenomenon in the United States. George Gershwinand Rodgers & Hammersteinradically re-shaped the medium as the Great depressionended and World War IIerupted.
Post-World War II performing arts were highlighted by the resurgence of both ballet and opera in Europe and the United States.
Alvin Ailey's revolutionary American Dance Theaterwas created in the 1950s, signaling the radical changes that were to come to performing arts in the 1950s and 1960s as new cultural themes bombarded the public consciousness in the United States and abroad. Postmodernismin performing arts dominated the 1960s to large extent. Rock and rollevolved from rhythm and bluesduring the 1950s, and became the staple musical form of popular entertainment.
In 1968, "Hair" introduced the
History of Eastern performing arts
The earliest recorded theatrical event dates back to 2000 BC with the
passion playsof Ancient Egypt. This story of the god Osiriswas performed annually at festivals throughout the civilization, marking the known beginning of a long relationship between theatre and religion.
The most popular forms of
theaterin the medieval Islamic world were puppettheatre (which included hand puppets, shadow plays and marionetteproductions) and live passion plays known as "ta'ziya", where actors re-enact episodes from Muslim history. In particular, Shia Islamic plays revolved around the " shaheed" (martyrdom) of Ali's sons Hasan ibn Aliand Husayn ibn Ali. Live secular plays were known as "akhraja", recorded in medieval "adab" literature, though they were less common than puppetry and "ta'ziya" theater. [citation|last=Moreh|first=Shmuel|contribution=Live Theater in Medieval Islam|title=Studies in Islamic History and Civilization|editor-last=David Ayalon|editor-first=Moshe Sharon|publisher= Brill Publishers|year=1986|isbn=965264014X|pages=565-601]
Folk theatre and dramatics can be traced to the religious ritualism of the Vedic peoples in the
2nd millenium BC. This folk theatre of the misty past was mixed with dance, food, ritualism, plus a depiction of events from daily life. It was the last element which made it the origin of the classical theatre of later times. Many historians, notably D. D. Kosambi, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Adya Rangacharaya, etc. have referred to the prevalence of ritualism amongst Indo-Aryan tribes in which some members of the tribe acted as if they were wild animals and some others were the hunters. Those who acted as mammals like goats, buffaloes, reindeer, monkeys, etc. were chased by those playing the role of hunters. Bharata Muni(fl. 5th–2nd century BC) was an ancient Indian writer best known for writing the " Natya Shastra of Bharata", a theoretical treatise on Indian performing arts, including theatre, dance, acting, and music, which has been compared to Aristotle's "Poetics". Bharata is often known as the father of Indian theatrical arts. His "Natya Shastra" seems to be the first attempt to develop the technique or rather art, of drama in a systematic manner. The Natya Shastra tells us not only what is to be portrayed in a drama, but how the portrayal is to be done. Drama, as Bharata Muni says, is the imitation of men and their doings ("loka-vritti"). As men and their doings have to be respected on the stage, so drama in Sanskrit is also known by the term roopaka which means portrayal.
Ramayana" and " Mahabharata" can be considered the first recognized plays that originated in India. These epics provided the inspiration to the earliest Indian dramatists and they do it even today. Indian dramatists such as Bhasain the second century BC wrote plays that were heavily inspired by the "Ramayana" and "Mahabharata". Kālidāsain the first century BC, is arguably considered to be ancient India's greatest dramatist. Three famous romantic plays written by Kālidāsa are the " Mālavikāgnimitram" ("Mālavikā and Agnimitra"), " Vikramuurvashiiya" ("Pertaining to Vikrama and Urvashi"), and "Abhijñānaśākuntala" ("The Recognition of Shakuntala"). The last was inspired by a story in the "Mahabharata" and is the most famous. It was the first to be translated into English and German. In comparison to Bhasa, who drew heavily from the epics, Kālidāsa can be considered an original playwright.
The next great Indian dramatist was
Bhavabhuti(c. 7th century). He is said to have written the following three plays: "Malati-Madhava", "Mahaviracharita" and "Uttar Ramacharita". Among these three, the last two cover between them, the entire epic of "Ramayana". The powerful Indian emperor Harsha(606-648) is credited with having written three plays: the comedy " Ratnavali", " Priyadarsika", and the Buddhistdrama " Nagananda". Many other dramatists followed during the Middle Ages.
There are references to theatrical entertainments in China as early as 1500 BC during the
Shang Dynasty; they often involved music, clowning and acrobatic displays.
The Tang Dynasty is sometimes known as 'The Age of 1000 Entertainments'. During this era, Emperor Xuanzong formed an acting school known as the Children of the
Pear Gardento produce a form of drama that was primarily musical.
During the Han Dynasty, shadow puppetry first emerged as a recognized form of theatre in China. There were two distinct forms of shadow puppetry, Cantonese southern and Pekingese northern. The two styles were differentiated by the method of making the puppets and the positioning of the rods on the puppets, as opposed to the type of play performed by the puppets. Both styles generally performed plays depicting great adventure and fantasy, rarely was this very stylized form of theatre used for political propaganda. Cantonese shadow puppets were the larger of the two. They were built using thick leather which created more substantial shadows. Symbolic color was also very prevalent; a black face represented honesty, a red one bravery. The rods used to control Cantonese puppets were attached perpendicular to the puppets’ heads. Thus, they were not seen by the audience when the shadow was created. Pekingese puppets were more delicate and smaller. They were created out of thin, translucent leather usually taken from the belly of a donkey. They were painted with vibrant paints, thus they cast a very colorful shadow. The thin rods which controlled their movements were attached to a leather collar at the neck of the puppet. The rods ran parallel to the bodies of the puppet then turned at a ninety degree angle to connect to the neck. While these rods were visible when the shadow was cast, they laid outside the shadow of the puppet; thus they did not interfere with the appearance of the figure. The rods attached at the necks to facilitate the use of multiple heads with one body. When the heads were not being used, they were stored in a muslin book or fabric lined box. The heads were always removed at night. This was in keeping with the old superstition that if left intact, the puppets would come to life at night. Some puppeteers went so far as to store the heads in one book and the bodies in another, to further reduce the possibility of reanimating puppets. Shadow puppetry is said to have reached its highest point of artistic development in the eleventh century before becoming a tool of the government.
Sung Dynasty, there were many popular plays involving acrobatics and music. These developed in the Yuan Dynastyinto a more sophisticated form with a four or five act structure.
Yuan drama spread across China and diversified into numerous regional forms, the best known of which is Beijing Opera, which is still popular today.
Southeast Asiawas mostly influenced by Indian theatre.
Thailand, it has been a tradition from the Middle Ages to stage plays based on plots drawn from Indian epics. In particular, the theatrical version of Thailand's national epic " Ramakien", a version of the Indian " Ramayana", remains popular in Thailand even today.
Cambodia, at the ancient capital Angkor Wat, stories from the Indian epics "Ramayana" and " Mahabharata" have been carved on the walls of temples and palaces. Similar reliefs are found at Borobudurin Indonesia.
During the 14th century, there were small companies of actors in Japan who performed short, sometimes vulgar comedies. A director of one of these companies, Kan'ami (1333-1384), had a son,
Zeami Motokiyo(1363-1443) who was considered one of the finest child actors in Japan. When Kan'ami's company performed for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu(1358-1408), the Shogun of Japan, he implored Zeami to have a court education for his arts. After Zeami succeeded his father, he continued to perform and adapt his style into what is today Noh. A mixture of pantomimeand vocal acrobatics, this style has fascinated the Japanese for hundreds of years.
Japan, after a long period of civil wars and political disarray, was unified and at peace primarily due to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1600-1668). However, alarmed at increasing Christian growth, he cut off contact from Japan to Europe and China and outlawed Christianity. When peace did come, a flourish of cultural influence and growing merchant class demanded its own entertainment. The first form of theatre to flourish was Ningyō jōruri (commonly referred to as
Bunraku). The founder of and main contributor to Ningyō jōruri, Chikamatsu Monzaemon(1653-1725), turned his form of theatre into a true art form. Ningyō jōruri is a highly stylized form of theatre using puppets, today about 1/3d the size of a human. The men who control the puppets train their entire lives to become master puppeteers, when they can then operate the puppet's head and right arm and choose to show their faces during the performance. The other puppeteers, controlling the less important limbs of the puppet, cover themselves and their faces in a black suit, to imply their invisibility. The dialogue is handled by a single person, who uses varied tones of voice and speaking manners to simulate different characters. Chikamatsu wrote thousands of plays during his lifetime, most of which are still used today.
Kabuki began shortly after Bunraku, legend has it by an actress named Okuni, who lived around the end of the sixteenth century. Most of Kabuki's material came from Nõ and Bunraku, and its erratic dance-type movements are also an effect of Bunraku. However, Kabuki is less formal and more distant than Nõ, yet very popular among the Japanese public. Actors are trained in many varied things including dancing, singing, pantomime, and even acrobatics. Kabuki was first performed by young girls, then by young boys, and by the end of the sixteenth century, Kabuki companies consisted of all men. The men who portrayed women on stage were specifically trained to elicit the essence of a woman in their subtle movements and gestures.
List of basic performing arts topics
The Apogee Foundation
Blossom Theatre, West Bengal, India
Performing arts presenters
Performing arts education
United States copyright law in the performing arts
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