The Evil Imp

A Bit of A Kicking

The Scottish Government, when it’s not spending huge sums of money on really ugly buildings for itself, can also be found spending huge sums of money (£343,000 to be exact) on really bad dance projects.

‘Off Kilter’ a co-production of works about tartan, haggis and short bread (probably) are being created by Janet Smith from Scottish Dance Theatre, Ashley Page from Scottish Ballet, Mark Morris of Seattle, Washington and some other folks. The pieces will be inflicted on the public at large during Edinburgh’s much maligned and over hyped “Hogmanay” party at 2pm, just as the party is about to not get going followed by a tour to other venues around Scotland.

‘Off Kilter’, according to the Edinburgh Festival Theater (EFT), is a re-imagining of a previous, much smaller idea created by Dance Base the Scottish National Dance Agency three years ago. EFT had very little idea about the exact details of the project however.

The “man” from the government, Michael Russell, had this to say;

“Dance is an intrinsic part of Scotland’s cultural identity. Off Kilter combines traditional Highland, ballet, hip-hop, Indian classical and contemporary dance – creating a spectacular showcase of styles that are alive and kicking in Scotland today.”

First of all Mr Russell, Hip-Hop’s origins lay in New York City in the early 70’s. The Scottish connection is……. none at all and don’t even get us started on the Indian Classical Dance angle and how it fits in to the Scottish cultural landscape.

Secondly, for crying out loud stop talking where people can hear you!

Morag Deyes, the AD of Dance Base, had this by way of follow up;

“Off Kilter is a riotous assembly of the great talent inspired by, and living in Scotland. This great show reflects the energy and originality in music and dance which is experiencing a genuine renaissance right now.”

Yes, Mark Morris, American born in Seattle and resident of New York, has a long history in Scotland. Which means he was in the Edinburgh Festival a few times and happens to be patron of Dance Base. Also, how do you know the show is “great” if it hasn’t been made yet?

£350,000 is more than the entire Scottish Arts Council grant to Scottish Dance Theatre for one year. It is however just one tenth of the money given to Scottish Ballet.

Here’s an idea. How about we spend the money on solidifying and progressing the fortunes of the small group of determined dance makers and dance companies (including SDT) in Scotland who are actually making work all the time, not just for misguided new year parties and box ticking exercises on, what we imagine to be, very long application forms?

We know it’s harder to do because the politicians can’t make press statements about it mainly because they have no idea what the hell they’re talking about most of the time. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we should try though. Right?

£350,000 pays for a lot of choreographers and dancers to make a lot of work, most of which will probably have nothing to do with tartan or heritage or a “Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie”.