London is saturated with ‘new work’ that has either been transported to the capital from international grounds or grown on British soil. This year I have seen contemporary dance that has either been downright strange, or has been recycled material and ideas used by every Tom, Dick and Harry-contemporary-dance-artist. It brings me to question the state of contemporary dance and whether it is all becoming a bit self-indulgent, feeding into the ever-growing narcissistic culture that is fuelled by the need to portray a superficial image. The craving to contest that you are leading the best possible life and when translated into performance art this becomes:
‘Look how deep I can send my mind into my soul and create something that is so out there, undefinable and unquestionable because ultimately you have no idea what I am going on about – even I do not have a clue what I am doing but I will pretend like I am’
In this instance we have art that is yet again inaccessible to most and perhaps attracts middle to upper class audiences who just want to throw money at the arts because they want to fill their free time with ‘cultural activities’ – which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, what has happened to dance that engages with current political trends and tests to rectify and give new perspectives of inequalities? Perhaps in an age of apathy there is an anxiety to actually question current trends in a fear to upset certain groups/people, which results in an unclean image and judging by my current Instagram feed is something nobody wants. Also, it may be the case that if we were to create art that may piss someone off it would be that rich other who so happens to be funding our art.
A vicious cycle.
I would like to create a political piece and be successful for highlighting and commenting on current inequalities, but then I would be under fire as yet another male choreographer dominating a field that is argued to have a lack of prominent female choreographers. A topic of its own that needs to be addressed, and can actually be looked at within the wider political scope of gender inequalities in the workplace. Oh look, the perfect idea for a political piece. Shall I say political again?
So I guess right now it is hard to please everybody, so people are trying to please everybody:
- That funding provider who pays for the production.
- That group of young people who have a lack of access to the arts so an artist/company works with them, but are still at a disadvantage because of the state of the economy and how wealth and good education is distributed, AND need to be used to fit specific criteria to gain that funding for the production.
- The dancer on the dole who is looking for work and when he/she/they find work it is poorly paid but they take it anyway to appear to not be doing anything and as ‘successful’ to their thousands of Facebook friends.
I often wonder how dance will be studied in many generations time. Will this era simply be looked at as a time when commercial growth and self-image was more important than art itself? I guess that is art in itself? An art of self. Self-art. #selfie
I guess I should say thank you for listening to my own narcissistic ranting, that I’m sure many will disagree with and deem hypocritical, although, I am positive that many will agree with the fundamentals of this post.
An explanation of the featured image used:
The idea that sitting behind a computer screen you are able to get on your high horse about various issues and clippity clop your way through them.