James FinnemoreMoral Support

Published on Thursday, 6 June, 2013 | Comments


James Finnemore is a professional dancer and choreographer currently working with Hofesh Shechter.

Be nice

Wednesday, 6 November, 2013

The Swiss.

Sunday, 14 April, 2013

james wilton dance with their brand new work last man standing

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This blog entry comes from Paris, the Saint-Germain des Prés district to be exact.

I'm up to my eyeballs in quaint cafes and boutiques and with Notre Dame just around the corner it is all a fantastically satisfying cliché. I have been staying here for the past month whilst my partner has been working in an Opera, and for a refreshing four weeks I have barely danced at all. A great holiday, but not great for a dance blog.

Because of this I would perhaps prefer to tell you to go to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop opposite Notre Dame,with its wall to wall books, special editions and friendly atmosphere.

Or that you must go to the palace at Versailles, built by Louis XIV it is probably the most dramatic display of wealth I have ever seen; incredible architecture, huge fountains and acres of beautiful gardens. King Louis XIV may have ignored the poverty of his own people but his interest in dance did help create the company that we know today as the Paris Opera Ballet.

Voila. Amateur travel writing over, I promise.

Instead, I wish to bring up an issue that is not new in the slightest and with that in mind this entry may, I fear, provide little insight or discuss things of little relevance to anyone but myself, so please dear reader, humour me.

Not funded?
 If you are a choreographer working with no funding try, and try harder not to post audition notices. An unpaid opportunity, as is the normal lingo on these things, is not an opportunity. It's unpaid. It can force fresh graduates, for example, to apply for unpaid positions because as we are all aware jobs are hard to come by. I mean no disrespect to these graduates, but these are young dancing bodies that more often that not are merely just that.

In my opinion these young dancers could conceivably do something more productive, like apply for a place in a platform or scratch night. This gives a performance opportunity with a professional atmosphere and more notably allows them to perform under their own name.

Work with your friends. Your peers are more valuable to you as you will know their abilities and they will know yours, it might create an easier working atmosphere.

It's more likely they will bend over backwards to help you ( eg. work for free ) and support you when you might want to self-destruct, offering guidance when a stranger might not feel comfortable to do so. And after all, your friends might be some of the best dancers you know.

I myself feel I am perhaps taking a risk publicising this point of view, and I will re-iterate that this is my personal opinion, and mine alone. Agree, or disagree as you will, but if you have some free time this summer then there is probably the most beautiful city in Europe just across the pond waiting for you.

  • Julia K Gleich

    I think there is indeed a question of personal responsibility and judgement about all of this. Each case will be different. As someone who works to employ dancers and give opportunities to women choreographers, we should all be a bit more realistic. I studied just enough economics to understand the concept of supply and demand. We have too much supply.

  • the idea that there is "too much"supply is simply incorrect. in fact it's not just incorrect it's downright depressing.

    given the massive problems of child inactivity, obesity and a multitude of other health issues in young people (in fact all people) are borderline catastrophic in this country and it costs far more to treat (via the health service) those issues then the somewhat pathetic amounts of money spent on arts provision are thrown into sharp focus.

    that provision is woefully inadequate for a country with a population of over 65 million people. creating, touring and performing are just one aspect of the profession (as we are sure you are aware) but that creative practice informs all the other aspects of arts provision, they are not mutually exclusive.

    our day to day interactions with people in this profession reveals nothing but realism. in fact, it's amazing anything gets achieved at all given the paucity of resources available for the vast majority.

  • oli newman

    so your point is, work for free, but don't work for free for people you don't know. Thereby negating any networking value to working for free, which is the whole point of working for free. Great reasoning skills.

  • We think the point is that working with people you know, absent any funding, can be a more valuable and workable experience than attempting to recruit strangers.

  • oli newman

    yeah, i get that, because i read the original article. my point is, you are wrong.

  • We have seen such arguments before and they are fundamentally flawed. The subsidised arts sector is not the same as the commercial sector (which in and of itself does not treat dancers much better than the subsidised sector), if it were, subsidy would not be required.

    Pay levels for dancers in the subsidised sector are determined by funding. More funding means more money for better pay levels, low funding is caused by the funding policies enacted by ACE.

    Nobody is asking for £10,000 for the performance of a solo (except for Akram Khan maybe), dancers are simply asking for fair pay, which is easily achievable with better policy. At the GFA level the money is there.

    So, you're wrong.

  • oli newman

    the fundamental problem is that nobody gives a **** about contemporary dance, and that is our problem because we are making work that no-one cares about. I'm in this too. i worked for free for years, writing music for choreographers, now i'm making my living writing music. If I'd only worked for people i knew when i was right out of college, i'd never have achieved anything.

  • Again, your reasoning is flawed. If nobody "cares" about contemporary dance then who are the people coming to the performances in this country and all over the world? Who are the people visiting this website, etc, etc.

    Work is work, some people will like it some people will dislike it, that's how it is. You are taking the single position mentioned in this blog post and extrapolating it out across the entire profession and coming to a conclusion based on your own personal experience.

    That's your experience, others will have a very different experience. Also, this post relates directly to dancers working together and the issue of unpaid work being advertised in audition notices, not commissioning work from musicians.

  • oli newman

    no-one's coming to see the work. 90 percent of audiences are dancers. 95 percent of the hits you get are from dancers. Ever walked into the Place theatre and recognised everyone in the audience? Nobody. Cares. About. Our. Artform. Deal with it. and it's because of incredibly weak work, appalling writing about said work, and a whiny attitude from the entire industry which you claim to speak for.
    I'm not speaking just from my own experience, i'm looking at the bigger picture. I was a dancer and choreographer for a decade before i started composing, but thanks for belittling the contribution that we make. i'll rent sadler;s wells, you rent the lillian baylis. i'll do the rite of spring, with no dancers, you do the rite of spring with no music. I'll sell out, you'll get 4 people.

  • who belittled what you do? we don't know what you do, we've never heard of you.

    you have no idea who visits this website and neither do we, you have no idea who is in the audience of a theatre and neither do we. maybe you should visit theatres other than The Place.

    you claim to see the "bigger picture" and, like so many before you, provide no evidence to support your claims.

    give us facts Tonto, put up or shut up.

    so you made work for 10 years and nobody came to see it? perhaps look inward at your own work, maybe it was what you were making. since we never saw it then we have no idea what happened to you but blaming the rest of the world for not caring about what you did is preposterous.

    go ahead, rent Sadler's Wells, we think Stravinsky is a weak draw but knock yourself out and let us know how the box office goes.

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