Charlotte Constable is a recent Choreography & Dance and Psychology graduate of the University of Winchester. She is currently watching, writing and waiting for her big break in dance criticism.
Wednesday, 17 July, 2013
Saturday, 30 March, 2013
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Avid Article19 followers may have noticed my lack of blogging over the past months, accountable maybe to it being exam season for me and many other students - or maybe due to me just having been rather uninspired. Why? Perhaps because I have not sought out current dance issues as fervently as I did throughout the majority of my degree - and casual exposure to attention-grabbing headlines is rare.
Think about it. Unless we actively select to follow numerous dance blogs and sites, dance-related stories just aren't seen in the media. Of course, today it is easier than ever to keep up to date via the passive reading of dance-related posts from companies on social media feeds and blogs - but an active choice needs to be made by an individual with a special dance interest to receive those updates (a medium perhaps I should take more advantage of). It is an art form which simply doesn't reach that level of exposure that music and movies do.
But it hasn't always been this way. Headlines were made in the high times of ballet stars such as Nureyev and Baryshnikov; then again, probably for standout reasons - Nureyev's defection, Baryshnikov's transition to the silver screen. Big ballet stars of today are unknown by comparison - Carlos Acosta, for example, is barely a household name, let alone a celebrity people are familiar with the personal life of.
But do dancers and choreographers like it that way? It certainly seems an easier way to live. Perhaps it all comes down to facial exposure level. Music videos expose musicians; films expose actors and actresses.
That said, directors, producers and writers are only familiar faces if at a hall-of-fame level, reaching mass global audiences with their movies. Choreographers are masked by their performers, of whom the face is rarely a point of focus within the all-encompassing, corporeal experience of watching dance.
Unless, of course, the camera is involved, manipulating perspective to make the dancer's face the focal point. But even then, contemporary dance for camera just doesn't have that accessible narrative to reach the audience of a cinema scale. (Although arguably, it does not always need to; 2011's homage to Pina Bausch, Pina, was Oscar-nominated and currently holds a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
So the medium of delivery is significant, too. Site-specific dance seems to be increasingly actively encouraged, with street arts festivals like Winchester's Hat Fair (5th-7th July this year - well worth a look) presenting an opportunity to showcase dance in popular public spaces.
It's an intelligent way of attracting attention, particularly to styles of dance rarely witnessed by some audiences before; viewers are suddenly thrust into the exciting experience of sharing space with live performers, the boundaries between performer and watcher blurred. No theatre website browsing, no ticket booking, no payment - an instant show right before their eyes.
But of course, such performances present a number of problems all of their own - how and when to rehearse, health and safety, risk and chance of interruption - not to mention issues of funding.
One thing's for sure - getting contemporary dance to hit the headlines is a challenge. A challenge which, inevitably, raises the sorts of issues of shock discussed in my last article. Well, it's never too late to try. I'm off to start 'liking' more dance pages on Facebook.