The Evil Imp

Place Prize, Oh Good Christ

Once again the ramshackle excuse for choreography on the cheap rolls into view with the re-emergence of the worlds most painfully dull marketing exercise. Like a creature lurking from the murky depths of a poisoned lagoon; it rears its ugly head on a suspecting public for another round of Pop Idol, contemporary dance style.

We can’t blame the choreographers for entering. Who wouldn’t take a shot at winning £25k that you can spend on anything you like but we can take a massive swing at the Place for continuing this pathetic attempt at PR that the arts media laps up for no other reason than they can’t summon up the energy to write about anything else going on in dance and this thing is easy pickings.

John Ashford, for it is he, leads the charge with a statement so ridiculous all you can say is ‘only in contemporary dance’. He says;

““The focus, clarity and determination of all this year’s entrants have been a step forward from the first competition in 2004. The diverse character, background and ideas of the 20 we’ve commissioned reflects the diversity of the entrants, but the difficult selection was made using one simple criterion – we picked the 20 who promised the best choreography. I’m hugely looking forward to seeing what they produce.”

First of all, don’t use the same word twice in the same sentence, it just doesn’t scan well. Secondly; of course the dance makers promised to make the best choreography, their hardly going to step up and say “I’m going to make something that’s a bit shit” are they? Finally, you can’t ‘hugely’ look forward to anything!

The most insidious thing about this ‘project’ however is the sheer, calculated, cynical nature of the whole thing. Basically the Place gets to commission 20 new pieces of work for a paltry £5k a piece and come across as the magnanimous benefactor when it hands over £25k of someone else’s money which does not have to be fed back into the sector of the dance community that really needs it.

It’s a shambolic diversion from actually funding dance properly, which is of course far too difficult a task to take on and the PR lackey’s at Bloomberg should hang their heads in shame and think about using the money to fully fund one of the company’s taking part, because that’s about all it would actually pay for.