Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'
Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.
June 2nd, 2016watch now
Welcome dear readers to our end of year review as we start the new year with a brand new layout and lots of new content to come. Was it a good year? Was it a bad year? Does anybody really care? We expect not but we’ll plough ahead in any case and see what was what.
It all started with DanceEast continuing on their pre-determined path of self destruction by hosting yet another of their ludicrously expensive “Rural Retreat” in January whereby a load of poor, neglected ballet directors get together and figure out new and imaginative ways to either waste a lot of money or stage ballets only the over 65’s want to watch. Not that we have anything against the over 65’s but we feel they deserve better. Dance East will compound their folly with another retreat, this time in Switzerland in January this year.
The National Dance Awards were, well, awarded and the results were predictable and uninspiring, so we shall say no more.
ACE ran for cover when the Freedom of Information Act came into force and pleaded with Article19 to lay off making request for information because they couldn’t cope. For the record they received 13 requests from us and some of those were not fully completed. What did the deluge of paperwork we received reveal? Mostly the complete lack of depth in terms of the paperwork kept by ACE on most of their major clients. Were we surprised? Not even a little bit.
In The Beginning
The first few months saw Article19 and ACE have a number of run-ins over the Freedom of Information Act, Capture dance films and funding applications. The Capture debacle was all about Capture 3, ACE’s rather tepid attempt to venture into dance film making. After Jordan Kinsella eviscerated the Capture 2 series in our first ever review ACE in London got a bit precious and refused point-blank to give us a copy of the third series of films for review. Numerous excuses followed and eventually we just gave up, the situation becoming more ridiculous by the minute.
To her credit, Rachel Davies, the director of Gold, supplied us with a copy of her film from the series and we ran a short feature on the piece. It’s a shame ACE doesn’t have the same character as some of the artists it provides funding to.
2005 saw ACE turn down a funding application to help us support what we do here. A little puzzled about this we asked them to go on-camera and explain themselves but they declined. Eventually Andrew Dixon consented to an interview and revealed some interesting facts about the funding monolith. The main thing, as far as this interview as concerned, being that ACE does not fund websites or pay the salary of the editors who run those websites. Except for Londondance.com which is different! Except it isn’t really. ACE could provide no explanation for the contradiction.
The start of the year brought us the premier of one of the best new pieces of dance in the shape of Perfect from Motionhouse Dance Theatre. The sand and swings epic is still touring and will be for several months. Check our video section for a seven minute slice of the action.
This year also saw us introducing video interviews and widescreen material for the first time. Charlotte Vincent stepped up to the plate and went in front of the lens to talk to us about Punchdrunk, her current work at the time, among other things. Helen Parlor, of Motionhouse fame, also jumped onboard for a video interview later in the year when we featured some new work she had been making during downtime from the big M. A bright new star in the choreographic stakes, but we shall have to coax her back from Norway, where she will be working, after she leaves Motionhouse in February if we ever want to see her again!
Outstanding Performer Award: Helen Parlor, Motionhouse Dance Theatre. After recovering from a serious illness Helen returned to Motionhouse and dances better than ever. As well as making her own work she is moving to Norway for a while to work with a company there after leaving Motionhouse in February.
The Article19 Breakthrough Artist Award: Sally Hossack, superb writing, superb voice, superb playing, coming soon to an Article19 website near you.
The GOP Deny It Till They Forget About It Award:Akram Khan Company for holding an audition in Brussels and having the bare face cheek to say it would be cheaper for British dancers to travel there than to London then getting all huffy when we wrote a news story about it.
The George W. Bush, No Idea is too Stupid to Repeat Award: The Place for re-running the Place Prize, perhaps the most pointless exercise in promoting dance since, well......... since they did it the last time.
The Daily Sport Worst Headline in History Award: The Daily Telegraph for "The Pointe of Good Posture", geddit? No, neither did we.
The Peter Stringfellow No Style No Content Award: Channel4/ACE for Dance4 Film, watching the test card, if it still existed, would be massively more entertaining.
The Pooh Bear, Activity of Very Little Brain Award: Parkour, like break-dancing it's probably a lot more fun to do than watch, allegedly, and stop calling it a philosophy otherwise we might have to slap you in the kipper!
Londondance.com Outstanding Web Site Design Award: CriticalDance.com, for using a base install of PHPBB and sticking the worst logo design in the history of pixel pushing on top of it.
The Al Keefer, You Need To Prove Science Award: Londondance.com for the most poorly executed survey ever conducted.
Long Tall Sally
Sally Hossack, a new member of The Lab, came onboard for some filming and her first adventure was to bag us a video interview with none other than Siobhan Davies and a feature on her works ‘White Man Sleeps and ‘Birdsong’.
Dance fared poorly on national television with the multiple debacles of Strictly Dance Fever, the more up-market celebrity version and the dire Dance Film Academy that sank without trace on BBC4. Despite the national broadcaster’s protestations to the contrary the show was a massive flop, turning in less that 100,000 viewers.
The dance dept. of ACE in London slipped further into Spoilt Brat™ territory when we accidentally found out that they would no longer accept phone calls from us. Any enquiries that we had were to be sent via email to an individual who shall remain nameless that never bothered to reply most of the time.
Another dance related prima donna that climbed out of his pram to complain was Farooq Choudry of Akram Khan Dance Company. Mr Choudry took exception to Article19 writing a news story about the company running an audition for dancers in Brussels and no-where else. The company stated that it was in fact cheaper for dancers from the UK to travel to the European mainland than to London. When we pointed out this was not the case there were some tears before bedtime. You can read all about it in the Editor’s Letters section.
More good work came from the bright stars of BareBones Company from Birmingham with their specially created children's show. It features an audience participation version of the Firebird by William Tucket and a superbly athletic piece from Enrique Cabrera all of which was brilliantly performed by the dancers. The company are a shining example of how good a company can be even with limited funding. Give them more money, nuff said.
We were saddened to hear in the Lab that former BareBones dancer Jacob Dorff-Petersen had died during the summer at far too young an age as a result of a long battle with cancer. Jacob features in a performance of ‘To The Bone’ from December of 2004 in the video section with Vicki Manderson. BareBones return this year with an all male company.
Dancing in the City
Dance City finally managed to get its new building opened in Newcastle upon Tyne and very impressive it was indeed. A bit did fall off in the first few days and the motion sensitive lights were a bit temperamental but we are happy to report that the errant piece of metal has since been re-attached and the last time we looked the lights were coming on as they should. With nice big studios and a performance space it should be a rather splendid venue to make your new work. Just make sure you ask for a manual to work the stereo systems because they give a whole new meaning to the word ‘baffling’.
Computer software giant Quark made the headlines in September when they accidentally on purpose (allegedly) copied their new logo from the existing one of the Scottish Arts Council. A blatant act of plagiarism first reported by this very tome. Quark blustered, SAC did nothing and there were no fisticuffs on the lawn after tea. It all ended with a dull thud.
In terms of publishing we ended the year by declaring there should be a Dancer’s Bill of Rights to protect those that are most important to the profession. To-date no company or agency has said they will adopt the protections we put forward but that was to be expected. We ended our video coverage for the year almost as it had begun with a video interview with Charlotte Vincent and her new work “Broken Chords”. Vincent Dance Theatre’s latest piece is every bit as entertaining as their last one, could ‘Entertaining’ be the new mantra for contemporary dance? We can but hope.
The BBC mercifully quashed any hope that Dance Film Academy would ever return and Channel4 put out their dance film show in the middle of the night on December 29th. It’s almost as if they were ashamed of it or something. The Place decided against common sense and will bring back The Place Prize this year.
The year was devoid of any substantial shift in policy relating to dance and some policy related decision making was exposed as being long on intention and short on results, more of which to follow in another editorial.
Dancers and dance companies are no further forward, in terms of how they are treated, than they were at this time last year. Pay is still too low, health care is still non existent and job security is a still a joke. Money is still being thrown away on projects with little or no imagination as those with the creative edge to make some truly stunning work either fight for pennies or get overlooked altogether.
Will this ever change? Let’s see what this year brings.