Monday and tuesday was a change from the usual, the timetable was put on hold for a trip to London for a Steve Reich evening with Rosas dance company, at Sadler's Wells.
The trip was pretty exhausting I must say, with five hours on the coach about two hours to see something of London (which ain't much..we opted for expensive cake eating..) the two hour and a half hour non intervalled performance, a quick catch up with my old NSCD foundation friends who are now in the third year at Laban, a quick nightcap, and early start, another five hours on a coach and to finish it (us?) off a two and a half hour choreography class.
Did I enjoy it? As a travel experience hell no. I hate coaches and I constantly get frustrated that every time I go to London I never have any time to get to see things. As a dance performance, well, this is where the fun starts.
The year is quite definitely, and strongly, divided on the topic.
This, of course, is no problem, my mother once sent me a birthday card with the quote from George S. Patton 'If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn't thinking', and my father often told me the world would be boring if we were all the same, and I quite agree.
But as dancers, and potentially, the future British dance scene, we must must have an open mind, a willingness to see and the ability to articulate and justify your reasons for liking/not liking a piece of work.
When I refer to an 'open mind' this is not saying that you must like everything. But for me, and open mind acknowledges that things can exist outside personal taste. Because a piece of work doesn't fit with a personal opinion of what is engaging the piece should not be dismissed as rubbish.
There are many people who thought the piece was incredibly boring, it wasn't 'entertaining' and the dancers had 'no technique'.
Lets start with the boring. Fine, maybe it bored you. Why? Explain. Don't just throw out the word boring. Thats easy. And maybe things are boring when you close yourself off. When I went to watch Trisha Brown my friend told me that if she is finding it difficult to engage with work she tries to see things differently, for example all the movement as lines, or just watch the hands, then it becomes interesting somehow.
Now, this concept of 'entertaining'. The obvious answer to the comment 'it wasn't entertaining' is 'does it have to be?' Personally, I imagine that it would be very difficult to find a contemporary dance company with the mission statement 'We aim to entertain'. If you like dance that entertains thats fine. But don't disappoint yourself by expecting something that probably won't be there. (Quite a few people who were disappointed with the lack of entertainment did acknowledge the Reich evening as a good example of art).
Finally, this thing about lack of technique. Thats the statement I found most most difficult to comprehend. We are training in contemporary dancers. We know how f.....g hard it is. There is NO way those dancers didn't have technique. Because if they didn't they simply wouldn't have been able to move in the way that they did.
I get the feeling that people are confusing what they expect technique to look like with actual technique. The Rosa dancers didn't look like 'typical' dancers and I think this confused some people. 'oh they don't look like a dancer. That must mean they have no technique'. I find this disrespectful to the dancers as it totally disregards all the work they have done to enable them to move with a speed and fluidity that was quite amazing at times.
I will hold my hands up and say personally the piece wasn't the most amazing experience for me. Yes. My mind drifted. (shock horror! Does that mean it was boring?) I didn't like all the dancers. (One actually irritated me a great deal). I didn't actually become properly engaged until the second to last piece (which must have been after about two hours. The 'main' female dancer was completely committed). But, to be honest the quality of the piece is not what concerns me with this discussion any more. Its how we are discussing.
My personal opinion is just that a little more thought is needed sometimes. About what people are trying to say, and how they say it.