Christmas. A time to drag the family to the annual panto, or not-so-festive-disguised-as-festive-by-adding-snow-at-the-end play at your local theatre. Maybe even the Royal Ballet's latest offering (will it be Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or The Nutcracker this year?) Because it's Christmas, and we go and see things.
(I just checked. It's The Nutcracker. Although they are showing Balanchine's Jewels, which is quite different and exciting).
So all of this desire to meet the festive demand to see a show left me wondering... why not contemporary dance? Why is there nothing going on in that department? Wait a second - have I ever even witnessed a Christmassy contemporary offering?
I racked my brains and thought back to bgroup's The Lessening of Difference, which I experienced (I say 'experienced' because at one point I was climbed on by a performer) back in 2011. It was a love story of sorts, but only really a festive one because of the wintry setting evoked through David Charles Manners' words, and a snowball fight at the end. I think I remember knitted jumpers and hats.
Oh, I am sure over the course of contemporary dance's history there have been festive dances. There must have been. I suppose Fokine's Petrushka is a ballet on the cusp of contemporary style, and it had its fair share of Christmas, with its opening fair scene and - that old chestnut - its closing snowfall. But something tells me Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham weren't exactly keen to put their performers in elf shoes and Christmas jumpers, linking arms and skipping around to The Little Drummer Boy. Then again, why should such stereotypes be the be-all-and-end-all of Christmas themes? I'll get to that.
So I begin having a browse through some of my favourite companies' websites. Nothing, nothing. Oh, but this is interesting - Stopgap were recently offering what sounds like some festive-themed performances. One, from their local youth companies, was entitled Northern Lights; another from their emerging company, Sg2, was called Wish Upon a Star. I also discover that a company I have, until now, never heard of - London-based Springs Dance Company - has performed Journey of the Magi, a festive work involving theatre and poetry and all sorts. Now those are performances I would have loved to have witnessed.
But what about the big names? Hofesh Schecter, Wayne McGregor, Shobana Jeyasingh, etc? Perhaps they have been too busy with other projects - Sun, Atomos, and Strange Blooms, respectively. Perhaps a Christmas-themed dance is just too costly an investment - so season-specific, so fleeting, so... family-friendly. Too merry maybe.
On the flip side, doesn't a festive dance seem... kind of genius? It would be a way to open up contemporary dance to huge audiences. People see something advertised as vaguely Christmassy, and they want to go. Something not panto, not ballet - surely there is a gap in the market for that. For audiences to be moved in a different way.
Christmas offers plenty of scope for this. There is the bittersweet union of biting cold wind and bobble hats. Of materialistic desires and the joy of giving. Of work deadlines and the need to keep loved ones happy. With Christmas comes a flurry of oxymorons which would make for some very interesting choreography indeed.
And then there is all the money to be made from the community project build-up. 'Come along, get involved in this slightly festive workshop. And erm, also come to the show.' Or, better yet, get community dancers involved in the show. Families even. Yes, real families dancing real contemporary dance together, in the same vein as this year's Dad Dancing project (a fabulously original concept I thought: see dad-dancing.org/wordpress/about-dad-dancing/). After all, bringing the family together is what Christmas is all about, isn't it?
I think I might be onto something here.