Who The Hell Are You?

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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by Michelle Lefevre

Welcome to the new mini-features section on Article19. Mini-Features are just like regular features only the subject matter may be a little less than important or worthy than a main feature. It’s a place for those subjects that don’t really warrant much thought or attention but they need to be written so here they are. We kick off with a brave reader asking us some fairly harsh questions, don’t worry we didn’t hurt the poor soul, just wounded him a little and then set him loose.

Intrepid Reader: So who the hell are you guys then?

Article19: Beg pardon?

IR: I said; who the hell are you?

A19: Article19 is an online contemporary dance magazine featuring………….

IR: Yes, yes, I know all of that, I mean what the hell makes you think you can go around making fun of everything in dance and criticising everybody?

A19: Ok, I see what you’re getting at. Article19 is not like most other dance publications. We’re not just here to tell everybody how wonderful they are or publish unintelligible choreographic theories. We exist to provide a slightly more realistic view of contemporary dance and its’ place in the world. This view is often at odds with the general consensus of many dance makers and dance administrators who seem more than happy to live in a surreal dream world where they think dance is somehow important to the general public.

IR: So if you think dance doesn’t matter then why the magazine then?

A19: It’s not that we don’t think dance is important or can be important to people. It’s just the majority of work we see or are told about is not attaining those lofty heights. We think artists are very important to any society and they should be providing powerful social and political commentary as well as some thought provoking and entertaining work. At present; dance, at least in general terms, fails to do that.

IR: So as far as you are concerned all of dance is rubbish?

A19: Well of course not, otherwise why would we spend our time and our money filming and presenting dance in the way that we do? There’s good dance out there but finding it is getting harder and harder. If you look at Article19 closely you will see that the editorials are outnumbered by features and interviews by a very considerable amount.

IR: Ok, but why the sarcasm and the negative attitude.

A19: We’re good at sarcastic and we don’t see our editorial point of view as negative we see it as being honest and surely honesty is a good thing?

IR: Alright, alright, do you think anybody agrees with you?

A19: We think that most folks in dance agree with what we say, particularly those at the sharp end of the profession. We are also not naïve and we know that a lot of people disagree with us. If they do they are more than welcome to let us know and we will publish anything they have to say.

IR: How can you be critical of the Arts Council and then ask them for money?

A19: Well; It’s not their money as such. ACE’s money is tax payers money, we pay taxes, so it’s our money and since we are UK citizens we are perfectly entitled to make an application just like anybody else is. As for being critical of them; We are protected by the Human Rights act which protects freedom of speech and we feel sure that ACE would quickly agree with us on that one (I’ll bet they do! Ed.)

IR: If you think you’re so clever why don’t you run the dance profession?

A19: I’m sure that would be entertaining, for us at least.

IR: You just avoided the question, come on!!

A19: Fair enough. At present the best we can do is what we do right now. There is no way for anybody to actually influence or lobby the dance funding system to make changes or suggest new ways of thinking. ACE is not accountable to the professions they provide funding too and they are not subject to strict oversight unless something disastrous happens like the debacle with Covent Garden a few years back. As such they are pretty much untouchable unless the DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) suddenly develops a backbone and makes ACE into an accountable organisation with a director instead of a chairman who will get fired or worse for screwing things up.

IR: You keep saying that Article19 is “one of a kind”. What about Dance Theatre Journal, Dancing Times, Londondance.com, Criticaldance, etc, etc.

A19: We are aware of all of those. What we mean is; Article19 is the only website of its' kind that covers dance the way we do it. We are the only dance magazine, online or otherwise, that has an editorial position of any kind and is openly critical of the artistic and administrative shortcomings of dance in general. Article19 is also the only website related to contemporary dance, or any other kind of dance for that matter, that will film dance for editorial purposes and present it to users free of charge. If you put Article19 side by side with any of the publications you have listed above then the differences would be very clear.

IR: Londondance has interviews, and video and lot’s of other stuff.

A19: Yes they do. However Londondance’s content is lacking in both depth and perspective. They have no editorial position on anything, they practice the worst kind of “press release journalism” and the whole site is nothing more than a nodding dog for dance, ACE and the “entrenched” dance monopoly in London.

IR: You see, there you go again!

A19: Such is the beauty of freedom of speech, next question!

IR: If you had your way what would dance be like then?

A19: Dance would be like the film industry or books or, to a lesser degree, television. All of those art forms exhibit variety in what they offer to the audience. If we take film as an example; It may seem as though all that’s on offer is the big Hollywood blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise but if you look deeper you will see a vast range of films from Shrek to 21grams to Garden State to Eternal Sunshine to I Love Huckabees to iRobot and so on. You then have European film and then British cinema which nobody really watches but it keeps the mix interesting. At present dance has no such variety in the work that is seen by the widest audience.

IR: But they have lot’s of money!

A19: Not all films are made for $100 million you know, some are made by intrepid groups with little or no money and sometimes those films are really quite good. Blair Witch cost about $60,000*. The point you are making only makes our point that dance needs more investment.

IR: Presumably you still want to sack all the current choreographers though?

A19: If we get a massive increase in money, more new choreographers and a wider variety of work then they can keep their jobs, but only if we get all of that! Otherwise it’s off to the cereal packet folding factory with the lot of ‘em!

IR: You don’t appear to very positive about all of this!

A19: We take heart in this quote from Bruce F. Kawin who said in How Movies Work

“ Just as the history of literature is, for better or worse, the history of what happened to get published and not the totality of human literary expression, the history of film is the history of produced films. And it is a familiar line in Hollywood that ‘No one ever got fired for saying no – even to Spielbergs E.T’ (1982).”

IR: Do you know who killed Kennedy?

A19: We think it was you!

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