The Evil Imp

Dance Goes Political

For once the Guardian is doing an actual reporting job with their coverage of dance and the political scene with a piece by John O’Mahony.

Leading off with a look at William Forsythe’s ‘Three Atmospheric Studies’, a piece about the war in Iraq, Mr O’Mahoney takes a look at whether or not dance should be commenting on politics and real world issues or just be content with wafting about and looking pretty. The piece meanders through history a little bit, digs some dirt from the past, and arrives a fairly succinct conclusion.

A decade old conflict between Arlene Croce, a writer for the New Yorker, and Bill T. Jones is dusted off for another couple of rounds between the two. Back in the day, 1994, Bill T’s company created a work called ‘Still/Here’ about terminal illness. Ms Croce refused to go and see the work but reviewed it anyway (or it at least wrote an essay about it) writing that Jones’s ‘victim art’ was beyond criticism simply because of the subject matter. Those were the days!

Ms Croce suitably demonstrates her lack of connection with the modern world by sending her comments via fax! (ask your grandparents what that is!)

As far as we are aware, here in TheLab™, dance has often flirted with social commentary from simple relationship issues to Aids to brutal governments. Christopher Bruce’s ‘Ghost Dances’ from 1981, was all about murder and oppression in South America, albeit in a very genteel way.

Of his own work, William Forsythe says; “The most damning comment on the horror, personal devastation and hypocrisy produced in any art form since the Iraq war began.”

Several dozen books, films, documentaries and a thousand political speeches would almost certainly question the veracity of that statement but let’s just celebrate the fact that dance showed up the the political commentary party at all, albeit a little late in the day.

[ The Guardian Piece ]