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Title: An exploration of the work of David Bintley, a very 'English' choreographer, with particular reference to his use of English Morris dance in Still Life at the Penguin Café and the process of translating 'genuine' English Morris dance to a theatrical environment
Author: Wallis, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 910X
Awarding Body: Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance/City, University of London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
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The study explores the work of the English choreographer and Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, David Bintley. Particular reference is made to Bintley’s ballet Still Life at the Penguin Café (1988) and the extent to which he has drawn from English Cotswold Morris dance in the Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk Flea section of the ballet. The comparison between Bintley’s selection of movements and their traditional Morris dance counterparts is based on findings from extensive fieldwork conducted with Morris dance teams and in particular the Ravensbourne Morris Men of Keston in Kent, as well as a study of Bintley’s creative practice. The research draws from ethnographic modes of study including participant observation, embodiment and notions of reflexivity. Following an analysis of the results from the creation and performance of a more authentically ‘Morris’ version of Bintley’s dance for eight female dancers, entitled Still Life at the Folk Café, the study offers a series of recommendations for the translation of English Morris into a theatrical setting. The thesis is divided into six chapters. The first explores the methods involved in the development of the analytical model for the study, including those of the Hungarian scholars György Martin and Erno Pesovár during their folk dance research in the Upper-Tisza region of Hungry, and the categorisation of the various aspects of Morris dance using Morris dancer Lionel Bacon's motif catalogue, A handbook of Morris dances. It also reviews the work of folk dance theorists such as John Forrest and Chris Bearman. The second chapter discusses the concept of Englishness to define the importance of the English ballet tradition as advocated from 1926 by the founder of the Royal Ballet, Dame Ninette De Valois. It looks at Bintley's influences, ideological inheritance, creative process and place as a protector of the English ballet tradition. Chapter three focuses on the fieldwork conducted with the Ravensbourne Morris Men, and compares Bintley’s movements in Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk Flea dance with their counterparts from the Cotswold Morris tradition. Chapter four details the practice based element of the research and analyses the findings from a series of Morris dance workshops in which the eight female dancers representing the field of professional dance were introduced to the Morris dance form. It also investigates the results from the creation and performance of Still Life at the Folk Café. Chapter five discusses the benefits of conducting a workshop with the Ravensbourne Morris dance team and some of the dancers involved in the performance process. Finally chapter six explores the conclusions drawn from the research and explains how choreographers or dancers wishing to work with Morris dance should immerse themselves in the source language of its practitioners, and draw from aspects of the tradition in rehearsals and performances in order to extend their choreological and physical vocabulary and attain the stylistic and social qualities associated with the dance form. These aspects include working with live musical accompaniment, using the performance space informally to maintain close interaction with the audience and challenging the dancer’s personal response to their own movement style.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GT Manners and customs ; GV Recreation Leisure ; NX Arts in general