Great article by Jennifer Homans about absence of emotion in dance

The Crisis in Contemporary Ballet

How emotion left dance

It is a striking fact that intimacy and emotion are so hard to find in ballet today. This was not always so, even in the twentieth century, when choreographers from Nijinsky to Cunningham and Balanchine were intensely preoccupied with form and abstraction–with taking the body apart, sending it off balance, turning it askew. They made human physics and architecture–the mechanics of how we move–the subject of dance. This might have been a dry formal exercise, but it wasn’t, because the best of them were also emotionally and intellectually fearless, and they made dances about feelings and things in life and our society that mattered–not just to them, but to us all. Love, loss, eroticism, anger, betrayal, chance, fate, daring: these were the kinds of words their dances and dancers brought to mind.

The curious thing about dance now, and ballet in particular, is that it has taken the form but left the feeling. Artists today seem more attached to form than perhaps ever before – wedded to concept, abstraction, gymnastic moves and external appearance. There has been some dissent, to be sure; but mostly what we have seen is a strange reverence for pure physical form, and a deeper bow to detachment than the moderns or postmoderns themselves dared–or wished–to make. Is this a slow trailing off and misconceived tribute to the twentieth century, or is it the beginning of a new way of thinking?

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Footnote Dance (NZ) under the spotlight

Footnote Dance
NOW 2016

Choreographers: Julia Harvie (Christchurch), Sarah Knox (Auckland), Lucy Marinkovich (Wellington) and Jessie McCall (Auckland)

at Te Whaea Theatre, 11 Hutchison St, Newtown, Auckland
From 20 Apr 2016 to 21 Apr 2016

WARNING: THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG READ BECAUSE I’M ALL FIRED UP

I’m in a quandary. I volunteered to review the Footnote show and so I must go ahead with it. However, this is not going to be easy. Something has to change. I am going to attempt a different kind of response from normal. I refuse to comment on any of the individual works or the choreographers involved. Nor am I going to mention the dancers. Instead, I wish to review Footnote.

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More on bullying in the arts…

In addition to the article in this blog (September 9, 2015) about bullying in dance, this turned up in the UK’s Guardian website that reveals bullying in the performing arts is much greater than has generally been thought. In fact, the article suggests that it is higher than in the military and health services. Here is the article:

Bullying in the arts: let’s raise the curtain on theatreland’s thugs

by Lyn Gardner

A study suggests that bullying is more common in the arts than in the army. It’s time to speak out.

For many people working in theatre, bullying is a fact of life. The whispers about it are constant. One theatre chief is famous for the strops taken out on staff. People working in jobs seen (wrongly) as less “creative”, such as press or marketing, are frequently victims of this high-handed behaviour; but it can happen to anyone from stage hands to actors. Do the victims complain? Often not.

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Jonathan Burrows’ keynote address for the Postdance Conference to Stockholm – Oct 14 2015

This talk by British choreographer Jonathan Burrows is worth re-posting here. It reflects on the journey and nature of dance and on its ongoing struggle to define and capture itself both historically and in the moment. 


Jonathan Burrows’ keynote address for the Postdance Conference in Stockholm

CURATED BY ANDRÉ LEPECKI FOR MDT AND CULLBERG BALLET, STOCKHOLM, OCTOBER 14TH 2015

Good morning and welcome.

Andre Lepecki suggested to me that this Postdance Conference
was an opportunity to find time and space
(and he underlined time and space)
to reflect on the developments and forces that have shaped choreographic imagination
from the 1960s up to today,
and when I saw the underlining of time and space
I felt the terrible weight of the choreographic
and the task ahead of us.

How do we talk about this recent history of dance?
How might we recognise the present?
Or imagine what might happen next?
What do you want to hear?
What could I possibly say?

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No bullying in dance, please!

by Chris Jannides 

It goes without saying: the workplace for a dancer must be safe. We know this well when it comes to physical safety, but don’t think it matters when it comes to psychological wellbeing and care.

As dancers we often think that the tougher we are treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. However, the borderline here can slip too quickly into aggression, psychological or emotional abuse and bullying. What is bullying? The Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) website simply explains: ‘Bullying is ongoing unreasonable behaviour which is often intended to humiliate or undermine…’

But this is tricky territory. As bullyonline.org points out: ‘Bullying happens under the noses of those who should care enough to stop it but who don’t, either because they simply cannot believe it could happen, or because they fear the consequences (for them) of doing something about it.’ (http://bullyonline.org). So let’s look at what can or should be done about psychological, physical and sexual harassment or intimidation in our dance workplaces and environments.

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