The News Jan 18 - Jan 22

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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Following a long absence, we have decided to return to our much loved or widely loathed (depending on your point of view) news service where we round up the main stories in the wacky world of the arts for the week. If you would like this to return on a weekly basis then please film yourself dancing in a weird location, post it to Instagram™ and maybe we will watch it and laugh at you. Such behaviour will have no impact on any decision to bring back a weekly news wrap!

Lloyd is Tired

The much loved (seriously? Ed!) AD of DV8 Physical Theatre, Lloyd Newson, has had enough of just about everything and is taking some time off so he can be at one with his thoughts, such as they are. Having exhausted his mental faculties making 'John' and running it for weeks at the National Theatre Mr Newson is walking off into the sunset.

Within what has to be the most pompous and self-congratulatory press release in the history of mankind, the company told the world this much;

"Over his career, Newson has been called 'the iconoclast of the movement world', 'a theatrical genius'; a man who 'reinvents the rules' with each new work. The productions he has created with DV8 have been lauded as 'splendid...uncompromising, cold-eyed, warm-hearted', 'bravely confrontational', and 'powerful and absorbing'.
So, after 30 years of 'living and breathing' DV8, Newson is taking a break; we hope he will return in the future to continue to produce ground breaking work. Until such time the DV8 office will operate on a much smaller scale.
Keep checking this website, as it will be updated again when we have news of Lloyd's future plans."

So DV8 fans, it's time to stare at the company website for the next few years, hate-refreshing the news page in the forlorn hope that your hero will return and save you all from the terror of mediocre dance making that is every other choreographer in the world, apparently.

This behaviour is not unprecedented, Mr Newson has gone on walkabout before, (we think it was 18 months the last time) and he did eventually come back. Presumably DV8 subtracted that time from the 30-year figure given in the press release.

There is a slightly sticky issue of the company being in receipt of more than £400,000 a year from Arts Council England and getting that money is dependent on, you know, making stuff and touring it. Since all of this will cease to happen while OB1 (or Darth Maul? Ed!) is wandering the galaxy in search of The Force™ what is DV8 going to do for all that money? The Big Bad told us that they will be meeting with the company to talk about their funding agreement and how they can capitalise on all the good will Mr Newson has built up in the dance community over the last 30 years. Maybe they could build him a statue, a lot of people like statues, and then people could visit it, and not throw stuff at it.

[ Source DV8 ]

Mats Ek is More Tired Than Lloyd

Mats Ek, who has been wandering the dance world for half a century making work, doing Barry Manilow covers, telling some jokes and tickling lots of ribs* has also had enough of just about everything. He has announced, declared or whatever it is you do when you are a dance maker that doesn't want to make dance work anymore, that he's off to do some gardening. Not only is he leaving the wide world of dance he is taking his ball and not letting anybody else play with it.

To put it another way, Mr Ek won't allow anybody else to perform his work unless he is there to supervise it and make sure it's done properly. Despite his Swedish origins he bowed out in Paris this month because they have better food and the traffic is more bearable at rush hour.* Just like Mr Newson however Mr Ek might return if the time is right or the weather improves or some other unquantifiable thing happens to drag him away from mowing the lawn.

All of this retiring and leaving does beg the question; What happens if you leave and nobody misses you? We, here in TheLab™ also deserve a few kudos points for getting all the way through this segment without making an Ikea joke.

*some, all or none of that is made up!

[ Source: France Music ]

Earthfall Falls

In our third story we can conclude that it has not been a good few months for keeping dance makers in the game and touring their work. This time it's Wales based Earthfall that are biting the dust after 25 years but not because anybody is tired, although you could say that Arts Council Wales was tired of including the company in its portfolio of regularly funded companies.

It would appear that the Welsh funding monolith did not see fit to keep the company ticking over for the foreseeable future;

"After 25 years producing award-winning productions and film, not just in Wales but across the UK and many other countries, Earthfall will not be included in the Arts Council of Wales portfolio of revenue funded organisations from April 2016. In late October we were informed by an independent assessor appointed by ACW, that we were unable to appeal ACW's decision, or their assessment process."

Although the company will still be able to apply for non-regular funding the press release speaks of a substantial "scaling down" process whereby the company will no longer be able to function as normal in making and touring work and providing support services to local dance artists.

So, Arts Council Wales for the win we suppose. Looks like spending all that money on the Millennium Centre in Cardiff has finally paid off as the arts continues to thrive in the land of too many vowels because shutting things down is the sign of a thriving arts community, right?

[ Source: Earthfall ]

Oh Akram!

Akram Khan, one part of Snap, Crackle and Pop, has shown his dance training has not gone to waste because, once again, he has managed to put his foot in his mouth with very little effort. Thank god for those morning stretches.

Often times in journalism it is the simplest question that will bring the mighty down to earth and in this instance it was a journalist from The Stage (stop laughing at the back) that has brought the diminutive dance maker crashing into the earth at warp speed. When asked about the ongoing disgrace of prejudicial commissioning and hiring toward female dance makers, the "little one" was quoted as saying that female dance makers shouldn't be hired for the sake of it (or something) and that Martha Graham and Pina Bausch were non-living proof that men are overlooked too (or something).

The dance media, such as it is, started piling into the debate with Luke Jennings, from the Observer, taking a shot at Mr Khan, in the nicest possible way, and Ismene Brown, from The Spectator, proving that prejudice against women dance makers doesn't exist because she could name female dance makers, or something.

The icing on the cake though was an 'open letter', that was only supplied to The Stage (stop laughing at the back) crafted by a few female dance folk and signed by some 400 others that tore a metaphorical strip from Mr Khan's ass;

"Gender imbalance is deeply embedded in society at large; to suggest that in dance it exists by chance rather than because of sexist infrastructure is disingenuous and misleading. Patterns of discrimination, we well know, occur across all areas of culture and employment. Currently, out of 16 Associate Artists at Sadler's Wells, only four are women; of the 36 companies showing work at British Dance Edition (the industry showcase), only 10 are led by women. Only four women in the entire history of the Academy Awards have been nominated for Best Director. Women account for 8.6% of all executive roles of the largest companies on the London Stock Exchange (as of 2015), and currently only 22 world leaders (out of nearly 200) are women."

Mr Khan's thoughts on all of this are, at the time of writing, unknown but given his staggeringly stupid reference to Martha Graham and Pina Bausch, two dance makers who worked a generation apart, are both deceased and in no way impeded the career development of any male dance maker, perhaps it would be best if he didn't say anything at all.

We should point out that we did ask for a copy of the letter but it was not sent directly to us, only to The Stage, the trade paper that first published Mr Khan's ridiculous comments and then failed to follow up on them, perhaps because they didn't know who Pina Bausch and Martha Graham were? Although they did publish the letter and the names of the signatories in its entirety they embedded the letter as an image file, presumably so it could not be copied, or searched via Google!

This is what happens when your publication is owned and operated by 8 year olds. The purpose of an "open letter" is to have the letter read by as many people as possible, not just the people who can be bothered to log into The Stage. The letter is embedded below via Scribd for your perusal.

[ Source: The Stage (sort of) ]

Have a nice weekend.

Photo by James Marvin Phelps

Open Letter to Akram Khan

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