The question that has often been asked is; "can dance be the main event?" Meaning, is this much maligned art-form capable of catching the public's attention in the same way as feature films and rock concerts and can it do so on a large scale?
Often times the answer is; "no it can't!" Dance performances are often done on a small scale to small audiences for a very limited period of time. It's simply not physically possiible for a small group of dancers to play to huge live audiences. When dance makes it onto television it's usually a one hundred year old ballet created by a dance maker that has long since turned to dust.
Others may cite the success of televised dance "talent" contests which, as far as we are concerned, here in TheLab™, are nothing more than Z-list celebrity audition reels.
So what else is there?
This past Friday the balance shifted slightly with a performance of 'Watch This Space', part of DanceXchange's IDFB festival in Birmingham. The outdoor spectacular put together by Hofesh Shechter and Tamsin Fitzgerald of 2FaCeD Dance Company not only managed to draw huge crowds but did so with well crafted work performed by some of the best dancers in the business.
Watching the general public gather in large numbers on a chilly May evening with the ever present threat of rain to absorb the 30 minute show with its earsplitting, thumping music score, live drummers, contemporary dancers, parkour "building jumpers" and various pyrotechnics was a genuinely inspiring sight!
A sea of cell phones recording video and snapping digital images of the proceedings was a visual cue that the assembled masses were lapping it up, contemporary dance went "Rock Star" even if it was only for a few moments.
Not only did they gather but, judging from their reaction when it was all over, they loved the show into the bargain. All in all, not bad for an evenings work.
There's nothing wrong with small-scale, in fact this business needs it to survive and nurture the new progressives who may just have enough moxie to drag this profession out of the dark ages. However, it's nice to know that when required, the fresh creative blood in the industry actually broke down some real barriers and brought dance to those that may otherwise have walked on by.
Cheap tricks and hapless celebrities were not required, creative skill prevailed and the profession is better for it.