Posted: September 5th, 2016 | Author: Ian Abbott | Filed under: Coverage | Tags: Habibat Ajayi, Ingrid MacKinnon, Shanelle Clemenson, Sheila Attah, The Head Wrap Diaries, Uchenna Dance, Vicki Igbokwe | Comments Off on Herstory, Hairstory, History: A portrait of Uchenna Dance
Herstory Hairstory History: A Portrait of Uchenna Dance
Vicki Igbokwe, Habibat Ajayi and Shanelle Clemenson of Uchenna Dance (photo: Ian Abbott)
What I offer here is an outsider’s inside perspective; as Uchenna Dance (UD) prepare to premiere The Head Wrap Diaries on September 19 at The Place, here is a series of observations on the company from within the dance studio peppered with reflections on the wider context of the history and debate around black female hair.
Led by Vicki Igbokwe, UD has three clear values that drive the company and its work: empowerment, education and entertainment. The intention behind The Head Wrap Diaries is to tell the stories of three female characters who explore community, heritage, womanhood and friendship. The temperature, tone and mood of the studio is inclusive, generous and nurturing, feelings Igbokwe has spent time honing since she realised as a dancer that her best work would come when she was being fed as an individual and not having a choreographer “put the fear of god into you; rather than doing my best work, I was just thinking don’t fuck up.” With Ingrid MacKinnon as rehearsal director and a cast of Shanelle Clemenson, Sheila Attah and Habibat Ajayi as performers/creative collaborators, Igbokwe has brought four women who are not only fine individual dancers, but are also her ‘hair crushes’. Each has a depth and connection to dance and hair as well as a clear idea of self and each is engaged in a wider conversation. This provocative debate hinges on whether those who decide to wear their hair straightened are less ‘Black’ or ‘proud’ of their heritage than those who decide to wear their hair naturally.
Attah offers an elegant opening frame: “It’s like our hair stands up towards the sun rather than falling. Black women should judge beauty and be judged by our own goalposts rather than by others’ prescribed ideals. I’ve graduated in life to my sistalocks (a fine type of dreadlocks) and they represent a cumulation of my experience.” She has also created Hair The Beat with her sistas, Jodie-Simone and Denise, to challenge the feminist beauty ideals that are perpetuated by the western media. There’s a real street savvy and popping snap to Attah’s physicality (she’s danced with Birdgang in the past) mixed with articulate passion and an awareness of the politics of black female hair.
Natural afro-textured hair was transformed in the 1960s from an expression of style to a political statement. Prior to this, the idealised black person (especially women) had many Eurocentric features, including hairstyles. Black activists in the USA infused straightened hair with political significance: some came to associate the straightening of one’s hair in an attempt to simulate ‘whiteness’, whether chemically or with the use of heat, with an act of self-hatred and a sign of internalised oppression imposed by white mainstream culture.
Each of the dancers has their own hair story to tell. “I’ve had two sets of dreads in my life and when I had my first set I was asked if I would cut them off as it was making it difficult to fit the hairpiece I was supposed to be wearing,” relates McKinnon. Her role is a crucial one in the company. She is the sifter, the detail merchant, the one who shines the grand images that emerge from Igbokwe’s mind to reveal their lustre; often making quiet but incisive interjections when a dancer is feeling stuck on a particular task. Together they try to unlock personal histories to connect the dancers to their own lived experience which will result in a deeper emotional connection to their choreographic material.
Igbokwe conceived The Head Wrap Diaries in 2014 as a response to her own personal hair journey and a desire to celebrate women and hair. It is currently being refined, shown and will add to a live debate that is currently taking place via news outlets and social media. A number of South African teenage girls at Pretoria Girls High School have been told this week that their natural hair is ‘untidy’ and ‘unkempt’ prompting major international outcry and online campaigns (visit #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh to follow the discussion) forcing the school in question to suspend the code of conduct clause that deals with hairstyles. It has even reached government level with the Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthetwha, offering this response: “Schools should not be used as a platform to discourage students from embracing their African Identity.” I would love to see the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, make it to The Head Wrap Diaries and engage with not only the performance but the pre-show multi-sensory installation in the bar that Igbokwe has curated in collaboration with students from Central St Martins.
Ajayi, who grew up in a Muslim country, wore a hijab for the first years of her life and it was her mother who took more pride in her hair than she did. Having relaxed her hair until she was 25, once at university she began spending £130 of her student loan every fortnight on her hair; her mother would have to pre-load a cash card to make sure she had enough for her education. Ajayi struggled with confidence in her technical ability as she embarked on a performing arts degree at university rather than at a conservatoire. Igbokwe and MacKinnon provide consistent reassurance: “You have technique for days,” they told her, and it shows. She has a natural facility (she danced for Clod Ensemble recently) and a performance magnetism that emanates when she’s comfortable with the material and how she presents it.
There is a rich history of black female hair over the last two centuries that has rarely been recorded from a black female perspective; historically, sub-Saharan Africans (as in every culture) developed hairstyles that defined status in regards to age, wealth, social rank, marital status, fertility, adulthood, and death. The social implications of hair grooming were a significant part of life and dense, thick, clean, and neatly groomed hair was something sought after by slave traders. Helen Bradley Griebel has written a comprehensive history, The African American Woman’s Headwrap: Unwinding the Symbols, which traces the potency and symbolism of a piece of cloth that has had many names over the years: head rag, head tie, head handkerchief, turban and head wrap. I read the essay before I stepped into the studio with Uchenna as I hadn’t had a personal connection with head wraps before; after reading it I had a clearer understanding of the social, political and historical power behind this crucial piece of clothing which is so central to The Head Wrap Diaries.
Clemenson also has a rich hairstory to tell: “My mum had a friend who would do my canerows, so as a teenager growing up in the 90s I had the right hook up and all my friends were asking where I got it from; I also went through my emo phase and died it black and purple too.” However something changed when she went to the USA in 2008. “I was with a friend and had phoned my mum to say that I was going to have a short cut (I didn’t tell her when) and she said I shouldn’t. My friend said I might as well do it, you’re here and back home in the UK other voices would try and dissuade me from doing it. 31st May 2008. I’ve been short ever since and I feel it is me.” Clemenson has a formidable technique in waacking and voguing; in some of the hip hop choreography set by Igbokwe, Clemenson adds lashings of personal style, performance swag and attitude; if you look up the word fierce in the dictionary don’t be surprised to find a picture of her.
In many traditional cultures communal grooming was a social event when a woman could socialize and strengthen bonds with other women and their families. UD provides a similar social fabric that supports each of the women in the creative team; they’ve been together for a while having all played a part in the last UD production Our Mighty Groove (also touring this Autumn). The inclusivity practiced by UD extends to welcoming MacKinnon’s 7-month-old son who joined us in the studio each day. He has a particular penchant for the melodic and lyrical flow of several Brandy tracks and his presence adds a positive familial energy as the dancers lavish him with attention throughout breaks and lunch times.
During the first period of R&D for The Head Wrap Diaries last summer, UD shared about 20 minutes of material with an audience. Afterwards Igbokwe was asked a question: ‘How can I relate to the work if I do not have black female hair?’ I wondered if anyone would complain to James Wilton they couldn’t relate to the work of Herman Melville, sailors and a giant whale, or to Alexander Whitley about the difficulty of relating to a series of dancing lasers and motion-responsive technology without the relevant experience. There is something much more than the question of black female hair in UD’s work: The Head Wrap Diaries is a set of interwoven stories — sometimes humorous and light, at other times serious — that ask us to consider ourselves, our hair and our own communities. There is plenty of cold, esoteric and indulgent contemporary dance and theatre being produced in the UK but from what I’ve seen in the studio, UD is delivering in spades on their values; hair and community will resonate with many different people and will attract a wider audience to performance who will not only see themselves in the stories but, as anyone who has experienced the indignity of outrageous school hairstyles or home-cut fringes, may want to actively share parts of their own journey too.
Posted: September 13th, 2014 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Coverage | Tags: Becky Edmunds, Deborah Hay, Gillian Lynne, Sir Ken Robinson, TED Talks | Comments Off on Dance and mathematics
Deborah Hay at Independent Dance and Sir Ken Robinson at TED
Another fortuitous confluence of ideas: driving home one morning last week I heard part of an interview with Sir Ken Robinson. I was captivated by his articulate and confident championing of creativity in education and, as an example, of dance as a subject with equal importance to mathematics. ‘We are not brains on a stick,’ he pointed out with characteristic wit. ‘We are embodied…Our physical condition, how we relate to ourselves physically, is of fundamental importance in our sense of self.’ Robinson was once on the board of the Royal Ballet, but he is not promoting his special interest nor is he being merely controversial. He is making the point that any educational syllabus suffocates creativity because of the way it promotes certain subjects over others. In a TED talk in 2006 he said, ‘There isn’t an educational system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics…As children grown up we start to educate them progressively from the waist up, and then we focus on their heads…’ He cites the example of Gillian Lynne who was not happy at regular school until her mother was encouraged to take her to dance school where she discovered people like her who couldn’t sit still, who had to move to think.
Robinson’s talk has been viewed over 28 million times unsurprisingly, but I began to wonder how Robinson’s vision for dance could be embodied in a syllabus without getting stymied by the insistence of this style over that, or this school of technique over another.
At the end of the week I attended a showing, through the initiative of Independent Dance, of Becky Edmunds’ documentary Turn Your Fucking Head at Siobhan Davies Studio. Edmunds’ film documents the final Solo Performance Commissioning Solo taught by Deborah Hay to a group of twenty dancers at the Findhorn Community Foundation in which Hay’s frequent incitement to ‘turn your fucking head’ is her more mischievous version of ‘think outside the box’. Hay was present and following the film gave a talk on the process of her research. Hay does not associate herself with any style; she comes from the American dance revolution that bubbled to the surface at Judson Church in New York in the 60s and she subsequently worked with Merce Cunningham and John Cage, both of whom influenced her thought processes. By the end of the talk, which spanned the last ten years of her research diary suffused with a lifetime experience, I felt confident Hay’s approach is what Robinson may have had in mind when suggesting dance could be taught at the same level as mathematics. One caveat: at the beginning Hay discloses with a wry smile that her research is ‘impossible’. She doesn’t teach, she questions. ‘Questions are made to expand the way we perceive; they are not questions to be answered.’ The material for her syllabus consists of the number of cells in the body. In the 1970s it was thought there were five million cells, which was more manageable than the zillion or so now, but dance, in Hay’s universe, is the interaction of these cells with time and space. ‘I replace movement with my understanding of time and space.’ What our mind (wherever it is) can bring to this interaction is responsible for the individuality of our responses. If there is a pitfall in Hay’s approach, it is that students may feel drawn to imitate the kind of dance Hay herself embodied, as if the form belongs to the process. This would be anathema to Hay; turn your fucking head, after all, is a militant call to focus on our own bodies, not someone else’s. ‘Focusing on my own body is dance; focusing is bound by time and space. Noticing is not.’ She talks with self-deprecating humour, not suggesting for a moment that she has any answers at all, but what she wants to instill is the freedom of the body to express itself in movement without worrying about getting it wrong. ‘Dance is how I learn without thinking.’
Sign me up.
Posted: October 8th, 2013 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Coverage | Tags: Andrea Gallo Rosso, Beth Powlesland, Carole Blade, Chapter, Dance Roads Open Process, Emmanuel Grivet, Jasper van Luijk, Jefta Tanate, Jo Fong, Laura Lee Greenhalg, Luca Cacitti, Manolo Perazzi, Pauline Buenerd, Sarah Bronsard, Teilo Troncy | Comments Off on Dance Roads Open Process
Sarah Bronsard in 4 kilos
Dance Roads is a European Network, working in partnership with Montreal-based organisation Tangente, dedicated to supporting innovative choreographers and providing them with an opportunity to emerge on to the international stage.
It was a privilege to be able to observe the process of creation at Dance Roads Open Process (DROP) at Chapter in Cardiff for the two weeks from September 16.
The process of creation starts with the human being at the heart of the idea who then searches for some kind of form to mould the idea on to a body or bodies. The life of the dancers in the work — which is part of their interpretation — then transforms the idea further, so by the time the public sees it, a dance work has undergone the successive overlays of creator, performer, and other artistic collaborators (like composer, costume, set and lighting designers) to form a complex interplay of human communication. In addition, as you will see in these five works, the subject matter is very personal, so that the link between our own life and that of the work is barely distinct from the relationship between two people. I have found at Dance Roads that getting to know each choreographer has led me to an appreciation of their respective works, an appreciation that resides as much on the personal level as on formal aesthetics or philosophical research; the gift of dance is the opening up of our lives to receive it.
One might object that we don’t always have the option of this level of knowledge before we see a work; that a dance performance should stand on its own feet. In its final form, I would agree. But I would suggest that this personal element is an integral part of the process of creation and must be taken into account in any appreciation of the final work. It also has an impact on how we might communicate the nature of dance performances — especially contemporary dance — to the public. Program notes and post-show talks thus take on particular significance.
I would also like to talk about respect. Consider this answer from the choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton on being asked to define choreography:
Choreography is my whole being, my whole life, my reason for living. I pour into it all my love, my frustrations and sometimes autobiographical details. To me in many ways it has more reality than the life that I live. I couldn’t conceive of existing unless I could do choreography.
If a choreographer invests this much of his or her life into a work, the work deserves our attention and respect whether we like it or not. Mutual respect is at the heart of our humanity. Throughout this two-week residency, I have been able to observe and learn about the lives of the choreographers and dancers in the process of creation: their way of working, the organization of their work, the fragility with which an idea is grown from a seed and its manifestation in form and rhythm. We have a lot to learn from all five of these choreographers and I am grateful to them for opening up their lives and the inspiration they have provided as a result.
In Sarah Bronsard’s case, she had performed a work called 4 Kilos in her native Montreal; her subject was the life of the cicada, its evolution from a long period of gestation to its brief, sonorous outing in the sunshine before dying. She became pregnant soon after the performance and gave birth to Adrien who is now 4 months old and is here with her. The work she is creating for Dance Roads is a sequel to 4 Kilos not in its formal structure or thought (though related) but in the light of her subsequent pathway of motherhood. The starting point of Jo Fong’s work is an exploration of the dichotomy between the performers and the audience that derives from a mind that is constantly questioning the status quo. Her earliest work was made on such a small scale that only one person could see it at a time, and there is still that intimacy in the way she works. Watching her in class each morning with Emmanuel Grivet has been another illuminating insight into her singular way of working. She is her work, and Laura Lee Greenhalg and Beth Powlesland are not only responsive to her way of working but represent different characteristics of Jo: her comical sense of the absurd and a dream-like sense of beauty.
Perhaps one can read too much into the life of a choreographer but I could not help make a connection between the serious accident that Andrea Gallo Rosso suffered as a teenager when a car hit him with the compassion that he exudes in his work and in his working process with Manolo Perazzi. Having had to challenge the frailty of his body and to stimulate its capacity to heal, he works with great patience and respect for the body and the person. He also brings into the studio five years of research in bio-medical physics: he experiments with movement until he gets the result he wants. He is also unique in the group as he is both choreographer and performer. But more than that, he filters what for me is quintessentially Italian — commedia del’arte, Vittorio de Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves, photographs by Richard Avedon of the street performer Zazi and I Pagliacci — into a living, contemporary form. Jasper van Luijk was an accomplished ballroom dancer who subsequently studied philosophy at university and was quickly drawn in to contemporary dance. All these elements are present in his work: his sense of the flow of movement, the philosophical exploration of withdrawal, death and mourning, and the formal use of the well-trained and responsive bodies of Jefta Tanate and Luca Cacitti to shape one movement into another. I am constantly amazed at how quickly he seizes on a solution to a choreographic problem; he knows what he wants, and I am confident he will continue to find it. Teilo Troncy studied theatre in Bordeaux before moving to Holland to train in dance. His approach to choreography is quite different from van Luijk’s; through his own developing state of curiosity, he is like a coach or a guide researching the inner states that he wants to manifest on stage, a delicate and fragile task, both for himself and his muse, Pauline Buenerd, in which he perseveres with the utmost sincerity. I found a book in Cardiff, a translation of Jean-Louis Barrault’s Réflexions sur le Théâtre and in it I came across Barrault’s definition of subjective mime, which could very well refer to Troncy’s work: ‘the study of the states of the soul translated into bodily expression. The metaphysical attitude of man in space.’
Each of these choreographers was chosen independently from five different countries, but the happy confluence of their creative approaches in Dance Roads is matched by their singular integrity.
This is also the first year that a mentor has been invited to help in the creative process and Emmanuel Grivet seems to have just the right approach to accomplish this. His work in improvisational movement has a universality that allows all the dancers to participate in morning class without contradicting any of their own individual technique. In particular his concept of centre leads in practice to a freedom of movement that enhances not only body but mind. In his mentorship of each creation he brings that freedom into the theatre so that his intervention is not invasive of any work already done, encourages a free development and yet advances the work. In short Grivet has provided the kind of supportive environment in which each of these choreographers can develop their work. Open Process describes it well even if the acronym DROP has connotations that move in the wrong direction to the creative flow.
The Dance Roads tour will take place in May 2014. For dates, please see the Dance Roads website.
Posted: August 24th, 2012 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Coverage | Tags: Alastair Macaulay, Alexander Bland, Anna Halprin, Glen Tetley, Mutations | Comments Off on Nudity in dance: 40 years on
Benjamin Asriel, left, and Burr Johnson in “Fort Blossom revisited.” (photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times)
After reading Alastair Macaulay’s New York Times article Nakedness in Dance, Taken to Extremes, I came across a review of Glen Tetley’s Mutations written in 1970 by Alexander Bland, that husband and wife team of Nigel Gosling and Maude Lloyd who wrote about dance like proud and devoted parents, never sparing in praise but never letting any perceived impropriety or imperfection pass unnoticed. The review comes from a collection called Observer of the Dance 1958-1982, published by Dance Books (www.dancebooks.com). This was the final, fruitful period in Gosling’s life when he was both art and dance critic for The Observer.
Gosling must have liked dogs, as elsewhere in the book he compares the academic critic to a good retriever with the qualities of perseverance, concentration, patience and reliability, whereas the journalist critic is ‘like a hunting dog, alert, active, wide-ranging, with a good nose and a strong voice; he may follow some false scents, but he should keep our interest riveted on the chase…’
Which brings me back to the two articles. Both answer Macaulay’s opening question, ‘How do you react to the look of the naked body on stage?’ and go on to discuss the nature and merits of the work under review. That Macaulay’s subject attracted more attention than his regular reviews is notable, though he is writing about dance in New York, where Anna Halprin’s 1965 Parades and Changes was banned for twenty years for its nudity. One aspect of his article is that acceptance of nudity on the stage has moved to a concentration on genitalia, the ‘dark patch’ that Bland wrote about 42 years ago. It seems a slow progress indeed, especially compared to the development of nudity in the European theatre. What Bland came across in Mutations was for him a revelation, something to be celebrated, whereas Macaulay’s celebration is more tentative, as if revealing a secret.
However, my purpose is not to attempt an in-depth analysis of the approach of two critics to nudity in dance, but simply to offer a preamble to Alexander Bland’s delightful review that I reprint here in full with the permission of the publisher, David Leonard.
Mutations, Nederlands Dans Theater, Sadler’s Wells
Let’s face it fully and frontally, we are in the autumn of modesty. Fig leaves flutter down all around, scattered by the wind of change. Thirty years ago Ninette de Valois was showing the formidable founder of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis, the backcloth for a new ballet. It was promptly censored on the grounds that the stomach of a female statue depicted on it was too large. ‘But it’s no bigger than my own,’ protested de Valois untruthfully. ‘Ah, my dear, but you have had an operation,’ replied Miss Baylis.
What would she have said last week? In her own theatre, in Mutations, a new ballet by Glen Tetley (with films by Hans van Manen), four young men and one young girl of the Netherlands Dans Theater dance naked for minutes in full spotlight, not to mention long film sequences in which one of the performers appeared enormously magnified and slow-motioned as if to prove that he was every inch a genitalman.
It has been widely reported that the effect was perfectly unremarkable and indeed irrelevant. Certainly dancers’ slim bodies suggest Bosch’s ‘Terrestrial Paradise’ rather than a Rubens orgy. But I must make an embarrassing confession. In the nudity field I am an outsider, a freak, perhaps even a ghoul which haunts the law courts where learned men fulminate on sex and censorship. Not only am I likely to be depraved; I probably am depraved already, for I find the spectacle of beautiful naked bodies exciting. Their introduction in this ballet induced a glow of added interest which it was painfully easy to analyse.
I comforted myself afterwards by reflecting that respectable authorities in other fields have admitted similar sensations. Lord Clark has even written that all good nude painting and sculpture is sexually stimulating. Sex assumes many disguises. On the stage we readily admit arousal by crafty costumes, lighting or posture, and I tried hard to think that the lack of all disguise was no more sinful than they. Exactly what is contributed – or lost – by the final fall of brassiere or jock-strap varies a great deal. Apart from the fact that some naked people look more naked than others, nudity can obviously be employed either innocently (as it was here) or for hard-core sensuality. The simple shock of seeing it on the stage at all comes largely from the surprise of finding it out of normal context. In my sheltered life it is still usually confined to bath or bed, but the probable spread of its use in the theatre will soon, alas, deaden its impact. What will be left will be more visual than psychological. From the formal point of view the costumed figure presents an image with a single focal-point – the head. By adding a dark patch in the centre of the image a second visual accent is introduced, and this is something choreographers will have to take into account.
These minor questions apart, nudity is used in this ballet as a stimulating but serious ingredient which completely justifies itself artistically. The scene is a kind of arena (by Nadine Baylis) into which white-clad figures gradually fight their way. Once arrived, the mood changes. A nude figure appears dancing on film, and this is followed by a nice trio for girls, a typical Tetley wrestling match, and some all-in applications of red paint suggesting violence. A couple dance, clad and unclad on screen and stage, to gently variegated electronic sounds by Stockhausen; more join in and the film triplicates, until some mysterious figures in transparent suits sweep the action off stage, leaving the couple – naked and strangely vulnerable – alone as the lights fade.
It is not perhaps the most completely successful ballet in the repertoire – the start is slow and the films not very imaginative – but it is sincere, shapely, rich in those plastic movements in which Tetley excels and works up to a fine climax. It was never trivial or titillating and was extremely well danced by the finely trained and good-looking company. 8.11.70
Posted: April 8th, 2012 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Coverage | Tags: Louise Levine, Luke Jennings | Comments Off on On dance coverage
Reading the Sunday Telegraph Seven magazine today for coverage of the arts, where there is a lovely picture of Susan Sarandon on the cover. “Will she ever act her age?” Should any of us act our age? What on earth does it mean? Inside there is an article on the vanishing garden, a report on Daniel Everett’s fascinating work on language based on his experience with the Piraha tribe in the Amazon, a lengthy criticism of Damien Hirst’s retrospective at Tate Modern by Andrew Graham-Dixon, five pages of book reviews, and four single pages of criticism, one each on Theatre, Opera, Film and finally Dance. This last, by Louise Levene, is called Failure to Fly. Could this be a metaphor for the state of dance coverage?
With all due respect, who really cares if critics like a show or not if they do not take us beyond the gate of their own judgment and out into the field of well written appreciation? I am a fan of the restaurant reviews (not so much the general rants) of Giles Coren, who makes no bones about what he likes and what he doesn’t, but he says so in the context of the provenance and preparation of food in general, which he clearly loves. So even a bad review is uplifting to read, and a good one is a treat. A review that points only at the state of the reviewer is a downer. One egregious example in the dance sphere is Luke Jennings’ review of Dave St-Pierre at Sadler’s Wells*. After his fit of pique at the opening salvo of naked men cavorting among the audience, he should never have attempted a review, because all that came out was his tantrum.
After managing tours for a company of 14 dancers where one of the nagging concerns at each venue was if there would be enough people in the audience, I attended my first literary festival two years ago and was amazed to find a theatre sold out to listen to an author being interviewed on stage. Well, it was Melvyn Bragg, but subsequent literary festivals attest to the same attraction beyond the book between authors and readers. It is incredibly stimulating. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a discussion about dance at these festivals to raise the level of appreciation? Dame Monica Mason at Hay next year? Yes please.
In listening to BBC Radio 3, it occurs to me that it is not only a great champion of classical music, composers and musicians but also an enormous and effective marketing machine for the dissemination of classical music concerts throughout the country. More discussion about dance on the radio would be welcome, but dance performance belongs clearly with TV. But where is the coverage? I’m afraid So You Think You Can Dance does not do it. That belongs more to a cultural coliseum where the thumbs up or down of judges elevate or humiliate a given dance gladiator. I may be wrong, but I don’t think this is generating new audiences for ballet or contemporary dance. The broadcast to art house cinemas of live performances of dance, however, is a promising step in the right direction.
But there is always the writing about dance that can help raise the profile of the art in the national press and thus in the mind of the general public. There are some great examples in the past and in the present. Failure to fly in this field is not an option if dance is to re-forge its place beside the other arts.
* Soon after writing this Luke reminded me of something I had forgotten: that we had known each other when he was in the year above me at the Rambert School. We have since met and talked, though not yet about this.