Jiri Kylian’s Controversial “Stamping Ground” and the Aboriginal dances which influenced him. Was it an original work, or was it a direct imitation of Aboriginal dance?

A note on Jiri Kylian: In 1980 Jiri Kylian went to Australia to film Tribal Dancers gathering on Groote  Island. I have seen this film but do not have access to it, so I have attempted to piece together some genuine Aboriginal dancing. What came from Kylian’s experience was ‘Stamping Ground’. It was controversial. Was it an original work, or was it a direct imitation of Aboriginal dance? Could he own these dances? Was it disrespectful?

The Aborigenes had no written language. Today their language has been transliterated in the English alaphabet. The dances have specific meanings and involve embodying ancestors. Dances are sacred. Therefore, in showing what I could harvest on film, I beg the indulgence of the Elders and wish no disrespect to your ancestors. Rather I feel wonder and amazement in your evocations of the Dream Time.

Stomping movements seem particularly adaptable to dry, hard earth and a way to move through sand.

Next is the second part of Jiri Kylian’s ‘Stamping Dance’.

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