Resolution Revolution

panta rei dans lullaby

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, 2016

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Right off the bat the headline is beyond cheesy but let's just live with it and move on shall we? Currently, in the murk and grime that is London, the Resolution festival is plodding its way through innumerable performances from many a new dance maker.

The format of Resolution hasn't changed since the festivals inception during the reign of Ashford of Johns in 1786. It's just triple bill after triple bill, ad-infinitum.

Here in TheLab™ we thought the tired format could do with an overhaul, so let's take a look at what we came up with.

Wedge Issues

The central problems with Resolution are; A) too many shows, so much so that The Place actually brags about how many show there are and B) the emphasis on the companies participation is too heavily weighted toward the performance of a piece of work.

Any artistic director or dance maker with a brain knows that the end performance is about 5% of the battle at best. The show lasts for about 30 minutes, the creative period to make that show lasts for weeks if not months.

Most Resolution participants struggle with no funding, no rehearsal space and no time to actually make their work fit for presentation to a paying audience.

So here's what we need to do. Restrict Resolution to 30 participating dance companies, provide £300,000 in funding for those 30 participants, persuade the National Dance Network to get their ducks in a row to provide rehearsal space and tech support (lighting design, et-al) and that's it.

The whole festival is done in 10 days because you keep the triple bill format.

The Progressive Festival

Creating a new format for Resolution would provide numerous advantages over the current all or nothing "benefits" allegedly provided by performing on a stage in London alongside several dozen other new dance companies.

As mentioned, the creative/rehearsal stage is almost certainly more important for new dance makers.

Choreography is a craft that needs, above all else, time to be learned and honed to a fine point. You need the time in the studio to create your movement, experiment with ideas, make mistakes, throw it all away and start again.

Providing funding of £10,000 per-participant will give them the luxury of the time they need to work with their dancers (who will be getting paid).

For their part the dance makers will have to keep their production to between 1 and 4 dancers but that shouldn't be a problem. This is about learning a craft after all, not an excercise in drafting patterns for the corps de ballet.

Many of the fledgling dance works on show at festivals like Resolution also suffer from chronic under-rehearsal and the lack of rehearsal direction.

Years ago on Article19 we suggested that all National Dance Agencies should have an in-house rehearsal director to provide support and guidance to dance makers on the work they are making.

Many established choreographers don't rehearse their own work and they don't rehearse their own work for a reason. They are just too close to it to see potential problems.

The outside eye brings in invaluable experience at cleaning up movement, editing out the unnecessary fluff from a piece and generally making the thing both leaner and meaner.

This type of production support should be integral to the "New Resolution" because it's a big part of teaching dance makers to be "good" dance makers.

The Money Question

Believe it or not coming up with £300,000 per year to pay for this idea is almost certainly the easiest part. For every good project funded by Arts Council England they fund several idiotic projects like the Ballet Boyz vanity documentary that we have already ripped to shreds in this very publication.

The £7Million of funding given to Rambert to pay for their new building in London would fund this project for a staggering 20 years.

ACE has the money, they just don't use it very well. There is also no reason why the arts funders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could not contribute to the annual running cost of the project.

Additionally, after the Olympics packs it bags in the summer there will be considerably more money available to ACE via the National Lottery, according to ACE that is, so paying for this should be easy.

Making the Cut

If you are going to pick and choose who gets £10,000 in funding then you will need people to do the picking and the choosing. We hesitate to nominate the National Dance Network for this task but they do have the benefit of being located in various parts of the country.

Bringing in the AD's of established companies would be a good way of balancing out the inherent administrative crazy though. It would also be a good idea to bring the bigger dance schools into this. NSCD, Laban, etc could all provide invaluable support and guidance.

Spreading the application process across the country would also be a good way of ensuring that the "New Resolution" does not become London centric.

Being accepted or not is also not too hard on the applicants. Since the project is annual. Fail the first time? Then you just try again the following year. If you are accepted you can be barred from applying again for a year or two just to keep things fair.

"New Resolution" should be about providing opportunities. Not selecting people because you think they are the next Wayne McGregor, because one Wayne McGregor is enough after all.

The mantra for "New Resolution" should be; "You Can't Learn If You Never Get To Try".

The All New Resolution

Shifting the focus from the performance to the creative side of dance making will be an invaluable learning experience for any new dance maker.

Providing proper rehearsal and creative support, through the National Dance Network and established companies, would be hugely more significant than the plethora of meaningless "associate artist" schemes currently running throughout dance right now.

Those new to the game need meaningful support so they can figure out if being a choreographer is something they actually want to do and to figure out if being a choreographer is something they are actually good at.

Not everybody is going to make it of course, but that should be based on talent and skill, not on having friends in the right places.

You don't guarantee better work at Resolution doing it this way but you do guarantee that the work will be better crafted, better rehearsed and better presented year on year and the really good stuff won't get lost in the noise of several weeks worth of triple bills.

Resolution is a starting point and what better way to make that start than by ensuring the participants have every possible chance of getting it right?

  • Jen

    I like the article and think it brings up some relevant points. Resolution can bring an opportunity to share your work but always at a cost (as mentioned in the article) and although it can be good for exposure, it can also mean bad exposure if you, the artists involved or that particular piece if its not ready or developed to satisfaction. Eager to take up the opportunity, artists regularly "pay" (in many forms) which can actually cause more harm than good for new choreographers who don't really have the experience or support to develop work. It can be a both a harsh learning experience, though often a valuable one and regardless, Resolution as it stands now is what it is. I personally think the proposed idea by Article 19 is a good one and although it may sound quite critical, there is some reality in what is being said.... in my humble opinion.

  • Tonyslingerton

    My comments are not about the financial support of artists, and yes i think its a great things to give choreographers money and support to make their work as they would like. But then how can you make the decision as to who is worthy of that support. What is an artist who has no support whatsoever, has a brilliant idea, has choreographic skill, has the passion for it; but because of some judging system that limits the amount of people who can be involved with the festival, misses the opportunity to perform work they wanted to. On another point, i am in slight agreement that choreography isn't totally about the performance of work, however performance opportunities are surely a great way for choreographers can learn how their work translates to an audience, rather than stewing in a small studio space somewhere, questioning every single idea they have without having the opportunity to see how that single idea may project in a work.

  • DM

    Tony, your objection makes no sense at all. As it's already been said, there is already a selection process. Article19's suggestion is to actually broaden the panel and make the process fairer. Some of the decisions on which pieces get in for Resolution are somewhat arbitrary or have more to do with how many solos/duets/group pieces there are, how many experimental/fusion/whatever, there's always your token Rambert dancer or two etc etc. Talk to people that have been involved in the process in the past. That's because it's all focused on the triple bill performance format.

    Perhaps if The Place don't see the light, someone else should try and get this project off the ground. Who's up for calling ACE?!

  • That selection process happens anyway, not everybody who applies to Resolution gets in and some people do it more than once. Our way slims it down and spreads out the opportunities over a longer period of time. At present the balance is too far in favour of the show and too many participants lack any kind of support at all, no matter how good their ideas might be.

  • Tonyslingerton

    As far as I am concerned, 'Resolution' is a platform to give people the opportunity to perform works that they have put their own time, money and effort into.

    If you want to patronize, ridicule and insult those choreographers works, then i suppose you are entitled to your own opinion, but your poisonous - and frankly bitchy - wording that you seem to use, almost constantly, on your articles only support the downward spiral of support for young emerging artists.

    This website, I believe, is extremely well known and respected by a large majority of dancers in this country, and it is one of the few sources to read reviews of work, see footage of work and to learn from the experiences of other artists (via the blogs and interviews); however, it would seem that the people in the 'Lab' or however you wish to 'style' it, only wish to offer negative correspondence of the dance world as it stands.

    Yes, I understand it is a difficult state out there, the dance scene at the moment, and some work that is made is a little lacking in what I personally would prefer to see in work, but I would never allow myself to degrade and attack their passion, their own personal creations and one of the few opportunities that there are out there to perform work (if you are completely unknown), and I would never believe that my own personal opinions and taste is the 'ultimate' and only acceptable one.

    The only thing that I can personally feel from reading the articles on the site are that they are simply bitter.

  • hannahbuckley

    I'm not sure if you read the 'Resolution Revolution' correctly, but Article19 are suggesting ways to make it better for dancers/choreographers, pointing out that it would more sensible if there were less dancers, but that these dancers got paid and supported. We need more articles like this one.

    This article is not a personal attack on the dancers and choreographers - it is questioning a system that actually doesn't benefit many people. It also does not 'patronize, ridicule and insult those choreographers works'. The only reference it makes to choreographers works is 'Many of the fledgling dance works on show at festivals like Resolution also suffer from chronic under-rehearsal and the lack of rehearsal direction.' I would hardly call that bitchy.

    You open your comment by saying 'As far as I am concerned, 'Resolution' is a platform to give people the opportunity to perform works that they have put their own time, money and effort into.' And that would be fine. If we were talking about someone's hobby, or an amateur group, but please remember that Resolution is for emerging choreographers, people who are trying to forge a career as professional artists. Therefore Article19 is perfectly right, and admirable, for questioning the way that Resolution is run, and for suggesting alternatives. (May I also point out Article19 never claim that their view is the only acceptable one). I just hope that someone has the sense to use The Lab's ideas to improve the format of Resolution, and give young dancers and choreographers the creative and financial support they deserve.

  • Right, so you think that giving dance makers funding, meaningful production support and a better chance of presenting their work as they intended it to begin with is a bad idea. Not only is it a bad idea but Article19 is being mean spirited for pointing it out in the first place?

    In your estimation quantity is far better than quality?

    You start badly by stating that Resolution, as it is right now, is a platform to "perform works". This piece is arguing the point that the performance should not be the focus of Resolution. It is arguing that the creative process is a far more instructive learning experience than a 20 minute turn at ThePlace.

    Our idea actually makes Resolution better. Instead of throwing out 78 shows in one year they can put out 60 in the space of 12 months with £600,000 investment in dance, more people get paid and more dance makers get to learn a whole lot more about their process and whether or not choreography is for them.

    Before you wrote the above did you stop to think what happens to the vast majority of Resolution participants after they are done?

    Here in "TheLab™" we'll burn in hell before we stop writing pieces like this because ideas my friend and free expression are what makes the world turn. Holding on to entrenched positions "just because" serves nobody.

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