The Evil Imp

Choreographer A vs Choreographer B

We’re not sure when it started, maybe it’s always been like this and we just didn’t notice, but everything in the world, including the arts and especially dance, is subject to being graded on a curve.

Concentrate, because things are about to get weird.

Choreographer A is better than Choreographer B because Choreographer A is making work that is being performed at Venue A but choreographer B can only get into Venue C while Venue B is reserved only for Choreographer C because that choreographer has a good relationship with Venue Manager A.

Venue Manager A doesn’t like Choreographer B anyway because Choreographer B is female and to add insult to injury Dance Critic C has never reviewed Choreographer B so who the hell cares about Choreographer B?

Choreographer C also has a leg up (pun very much intended) because Dance Critic A really likes Choreographer C but not so much with Choreographer A because Choreographer A does too much of Technique D and not enough of Technique A because most of their dancers were trained at Dance School C.

Dancer A, who works for choreographer C, is better than Dancer B because, as mentioned, they trained at Dance School D, the school that Dancer B attended for 3 years didn’t have enough classes in Technique X and spends far too much time on Technique A and Creative Process C for those dancers to be of any value to Choreographer A or C but Choreographer B engages in Creative Method F so Dancer B might be able to get a job with them but Established Dancer G will ultimately dismiss Dancer B and Choreographer B because they used to work with Choreographer A and performed in Venue C and Choreographer A won Dance Award B which is better than Dance Award A which doesn’t make any sense but what are you gonna do?

Descent into Madness

If you think the above is ridiculous they you are absolutely right but this is what’s going on in the wide world of dance right now.

Choreographers, dancers and entire creative philosophies are being dismissed because somebody somewhere is drawing lots of venn diagrams (metaphorically or otherwise) and if the right elements don’t intersect then you can bugger off out the door because you’re not welcome, you’re just not good enough and “they” have the diagrams to prove it!

Sometimes the prejudice is subtle. Dance critics and snooty admins describe certain dance makers as “leading”, “respected”, “award winning” or some other random collection of adjectives plucked out of the clear blue sky just because.

The idea is to instil the notion their chosen ones are better than everybody else for no other reason than they have been labelled as such by the self-appointed gate keepers of the wide world of dance. Importance is unquantifiable, “they” know it’s unquantifiable but that won’t stop “them” writing a lot of books using as many words as possible to make you think “it” is quantifiable.

More often than not though the prejudice is more blatant and damaging. Ask any dance maker about the herculean task of getting promoters or theatre folk in general just to watch their work if they don’t fit into a clearly definable category and you will have some idea of the nonsense that is this business we call show!

Choreographers X, Y and Z have completely dismissed hundreds of students from dance schools C, D and E because those students allegedly lack the mythical Ingredient X and the only thing that’s puzzling about that entire situation is the fact that the three of them are not being hauled into a courtroom in Brussels for blatant discriminatory hiring practices.

We generalise, but you get point. You do get the point…. right?

Creative Class

This nonsense is made all the more frustrating, if not infuriating, because the arts are supposed to be about, wait for it, creative ideas. Almost everything that takes place in the arts is a crap shoot. It has always been that way and always will be that way. Venue Manager A is not an administrative genius because they programme Work C alongside Work D in the same season and manage to sell tickets to both. Venue Manager A’s venue is in London, a city of millions of people only a short tube ride away, and only a colossal idiot, like Venue Manager B, would be able to screw that up.

There’s an old saying “the history of great literature is not the history of books that were published”. Well, that might be an old saying or we might have just made it up but either way it’s still true.

The point is that neither you, us or anybody else gets to decide what is relevant, important, deserving or anything else. If a dance student wants the learn their craft by doing release technique combined with insanity workouts and 20 hours of contact improvisation every week that is their choice. If that path works for them who is anybody to question it?

If a dance maker wants to ply his or her trade by performing exclusively in the dining rooms of right wing conservative head bangers just to piss them off that there is their decision to make. You don’t have to like it but you don’t get to grade it with stars if you’re a critic and you don’t get to ignore it if you’re a promoter or theatre hack because, let’s face it, it’s your job to get of your backside and see work all the while maintaining an open mind. Not the pretence of an open mind, an actual open mind.

We exaggerate for dramatic effect of course because we’re all about the drama here in TheLab™, but the overarching point stands. Not everything has to be better than the other thing, not everything can be put on a chart, graded, quantified and extrapolated out into a meaningless statistic.

Choreographers A, B and C and Dancers A, B and C are not better than one another, they’re just different. Deal with it!

Top Image – Dancers from JV2, the post graduate company of Jasmin Vardimon Company, undergo rehearsals, for up and coming performances, at the company’s studio space in Ashford, Kent. Dancer: Rachel Morgan photo by Article19