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December 14, 2005

genius, commercialism and a slap


Well this is so incredibly interesting to talk about all of this, even if keeping track of who launched what thread is dizzying, particularly for the 48 year old who spends much of the day looking for his keys while holding them in his hand.

So let’s start with genius or that other career-wrecker, master. Everyone is a master and an idiot. The problem with this medieval sense of pedagogy as process is that it is medieval and we are not. What is wonderful about New York right now (and Andre’s friend who assessed the NY scene had better get out more!!! grrrrrrrrrrrr) is that a large group of young makers are not referring to dance history they are not looking at the hierarchies derived from the idiotic , anachronistic power structures of the ballet world or other institutionalized systems. This has created in New York a situation in which young artists and old share a lot of time and thought outside of the constraints of a traditional old/young dialectic. The brilliant Shtudio shows in Chez Bushwick bring together a group of young and old artists that is unprecedented. Movement Research’s ultra successful Melt Festival brings me and my age group peers into contact with very young makers on a regular basis. This relationship with younger people has infused my work with a layer of information subtly born of their queries. Many young makers don’t know anything about the dance boom of the 80’s and they are not rebelling and it is NOT LIKE JUDSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are creating work responding to the whole culture, not the dance culture–a noble goal for any art form– to point its tools outwards. They are creating systems to perform the work in and to make it in that are cooperative and feasible. Out of this different set of circumstances, the work changes.

In terms of entertainment this question from John is striking. I am certainly biased by a love for contemporary work. But again, the importance of the marginalization issue comes up. I entered this form because what the masses want frightens me to death. I think most , not all, entertainment is asinine and that most of it is based on selling products and on financial privilege. To speak about entertainment in this context is to point to an imbalance. The reason a choreographer like myself would be averse to entertainment in dance is that the general audience is still on the long, slow road of wresting dance from the entertainment sensibility, causing many to judge through that lens.
If I want to use dance steps to talk about a political situation through time and dynamic and the audience seesonly dance steps… or the audience and critics make decisions about the work based on this …then yes, vehemence grows.

I am working in a program for TDF called Open Doors where I take a group of high school students for a year to see dance and then we talk about each show afterwards. Our first outing was to see the satanically mediocre show called "Moving Out" This morally reprehensible work is shaping the view of dance for people in America because of its visibility through commercial avenues. Women are hot whores and men throw them around as they splat there legs open to the teenage musings of Billy Joel.
This is something to fight against. Fortunately without me even opening my opinion loaded mouth, the kids roundly trashed the work as clueless and racist and laughable. Yet it received beaucoup de Tony awards. This is an enormous obstacle for artists who use dance to speak about being on earth in a non-representational way.

Finally a gentle little e-slap to Lane for saying "feathers were ruffled" because this implies ego. I am the bird who wrote that letter to Joan. It is not about pride, it is about the critics role as the translator of new areas forged by artists, and it is about the form not about my work. I love Joan but I needed to speak out about that particular assessment. It is about artists speaking up and saying you have to do better. You cannot use the wrong lens to speak about the work, you have to research and reach way in , way passed the catch-all Judson reference , and others to feel the exponentially multiplying points of view being created by artists who are looking forward-yes right here in New York City, the former dance capitol of the world.

Posted by at December 14, 2005 6:42 AM


I'm glad to see that you and other folks here are enjoying this format for discussion. Kudos to Douglas McLennan for setting it up. May I suggest that this not be a one-time affair? There are but a few of us in the dance blogosphere (as its known) and we've been encouraging more people to join us for this very purpose. To provide an open forum for the entire dance community and to provide an online, interactive, and "discoverable" presence for modern dance. We have also been discussing ways of using blogs to build up the non-dancer dance audience. I have a pretty large list of blogs on the sidebar of my blog http://downtowndancer.com/
If I may direct people to a few in particular:
Tere this seems like a particularly ideal format for you. I hope you'll join us.

Posted by: Rachel Feinerman at December 14, 2005 7:38 PM


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