Choreography has discovered a new method. The craft has turned interdisciplinary on the level of production (groovy) and imported a fresh technique from cinema. Or, ehhh actually from Hollywood and there is some mismatch going on cuz choreography has in fact not appropriated a method. It is mixing up method and narrative twist.
Choreography has over the last fifty years developed from a craft – connected to efficiency and the consolidation of form on the basis of a general – to an expertise – which is all about being special and individual in respect of a delimited common territory. Lately we have seen choreography develop into a competence, which perceives choreography as a field of specific capacities disconnected from predetermined expressions. Independent of the approach the three paradigms or modes of production propose some kind of consistency or coherence, and however a choreographer’s work might take different forms it can be identified due it’s consistency. Clearly evolutionary in the modernist sense of the word, recognizable and predictable and hence also subject to “proper” critique, but recently this territory has been contested by an alternative.
The new method inflates all linearity of production as well as any opportunity of critique, and in some way repeats a sort of 19th century artist identity. In artist talk after artist talk, in endless post-performance sessions the method has been given prominence and has suddenly become common sense, used by almost everybody. “The day choreography happened to me”, could be said to be its axiom and this is precisely how it operates. It is as if the choreographer stepped into a choreography – “-Oups…”, or simply found him or her self in choreography with the only possible response being a facial expression mixing curiosity with surprise.
This is where cinema comes in as this choreographic method could be best described through a classical Hollywood narrative. A set up that we know from films like Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” or Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild” in which the mystical woman abducts the boring office clerk for an absolutely wicked adventure. It’s as if choreography today happens to people like an accident or mystical coincidence. The deus ex machina, or divine intervention solving complex plots in Greek theatre, is no longer happening in the end of the show, no no – it’s happening all the time during the process.
The situation is fairly excellent since there is no way that the choreographer can be criticized. “-The reason for the animal part. Oh, you know and then we saw this documentary and we thought that perhaps…” or “-No, that part came in very late, the result of a game we use that I have forgotten the rules for…” or “-The title? Well, that was so funny. I was watching “South Park” – You know South Park – and there was this character that…” I love it. Everything that the choreographer says turns into a charming anecdote. Artist talks are like watching morning television, amazing without ambition.
But I wonder how the contemporary choreographer sleeps at night knowing that he or she didn’t actually make the piece but outsourced it to a company, thoroughly inscribed in capitalism, called “Happy Coincidence” or “Serendipidy”. The present choreographic paradigm, the new style – you know first we had conceptual dance and then dance-dance – will be remembered as Hope for the best dance.
It is perfect, Hope for the best dance is a congenial excuse for having noting to say, an excellent response to neo-liberalism and a brilliant reason to be absolutely fine. Hope for the best dance is the ultimate self-delusion, fooling oneself into the option that the choreographer isn’t responsible for the consequences of his or her activities.
Hope for the best dance is the perfect recipe for all those choreographers that want to think that they are politically engaged but in fact just want to be loved. The magic potion for entire populations of dance makers that have no fuckin idea what they are doing and are happy about it.
So, who’d you want to be, do you hope for the best or do you prepare for the worst.