Archive | August, 2010

Hope For The Best Dance

24 Aug

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.

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Show No Mercy!

23 Aug

Who’s your target group?

You are a choreographer and you run a business. Correct, your job is to develop and manufacture products that you push on individuals with titles such as programmer or festival director, organizations such as the art council or e.g. the Goethe Institute. Your target group and your client are not identical, on the contrary they are significantly different and don’t know each other.
So what do you do? You continue to push products called dance performances without analyzing who your clients and target groups are – no let’s not talk about “your audience” that is irrelevant. The business strategy utilized by dance and performance is simple: hope for the best.

Your client is not cool; she doesn’t stay up late, has no idea about what a beatmix is, and if he has a FB account she has less than 250 friends, still more than 60. Are you d’accord with this, are you fine knowing that your clients idea about life is approximately as contemporary as your vintage sneakers were last year. Your client has heard about bittorrent but never used it. He still considers that music is something stored on stable media, that mp3 is not authentic, and has all the Patti Smith’s albums on CD (he had all of them LP, but you know… times change). Check it out, that’s the guy that buys your show. Are you happy about the fact that he likes your work? Are you okay with the fact that your work adheres to her taste, or that she thinks that your stuff has potentiality.

Too many of your clients spend time with their grand children. Think about that!

Dance, especially produced by choreographers without health insurance, without exception addresses the same target group. This kind of choreography, created with too small budgets but always state funded, is directed to itself. The target individual is identical to the maker: young, good looking, middle class, fresh and conservative. The target individual dresses badly and considers it uncool to be cool. The target individual considers herself contemporary but doesn’t know the address of Colette. The target person considers himself contemporary but listens to soul.

Dance and choreography, shape up! It’s not a defeat to know your client or detect your target group. But a person who doesn’t is either ignorant or somebody with an unconditional belief in authenticity. Who thinks that art is special. Stop that! You are not your work, and your work is not supposed to consolidate your identity. Dance and performance does not become less superficial because you think it’s deep: it is after all more or less an hour of classical representation accompanied by creative electronic music (help). Dance and choreography will not lose its specificity because it’s glossy, effective, fast, aggressive or fuckin’ nuts. But it will lose its specificity as long as you, and me, continue desperately to try to please programmers, managers, our friends and worst of all the audience, especially when we do it through being alternative, healthy, medium rare, positive, disillusioned, a little bit crazy and always available.

Summarizing the first half of this years shows, season and festival programs brings me to a simple conclusion: dance experiences a deep crisis and this is signified by a continuous mass emigration towards the general. The watchword of dance today is: one size fits all. And worst of all it lacks any kind of attitude.

The reason is obvious: production value, belonging, identity and staying alive are more important than specificity, excess, cocaine and revolt. Of course I’m pathetic, but what’s the alternative? Modesty, Buddhism, demure, enthusiasm, faith? Are those notions that you’d like to signify your practice by? Did you make life difficult for yourself deciding to be a choreographer in order to confirm such an attitude? If you did, I don’t want to be your friend!

Dancers, choreographers and all you others, we have a job to do:

– Stop working for your client, they don’t care – they just want more money.

– Evacuate your audience, and don’t let them in again until they are ready to kill for it.

– Fuck modesty and all other well-meaning aspirations. If you don’t consider your mission an armed struggle, ready to declare war, you are not needed.

– Accept no interviews, agree to no essays published in dance magazines or written by dance scholars. To be published in a dance magazine is a disaster, it means your work is good.

– Spend more time on producing press images, rumors and attitude than rehearsing and processing your next piece. The project is you and your pieces nothing more than an hors d’oevre.

– Stop collaborating, and show too much attitude! Hierarchy is the only way to change the notion of success.

– Sleep around, stop decency now!

– Fuck enthusiasm it’s just another word for priorities, moderate ideas and a balanced psyche. Enthusiasm is another word for shrinking in front of circumstances. Enthusiasm is another word for insecurity.

– Practice being categorical. Be glam.

– Execute your client. Be a fool.

Show No Mercy!

Spangbergianism, a state of mind

22 Aug

Shitgoddamn, a new beginning and seconds start. This is where it takes off, Spangbergianism takes on the blog format and moves into the sphere of superficial messy warfare. What it is all about, it’s as often as possible and as mean as mean can be. A format without mercy and the option for me to leave the business I’ve been in for just a bit too long. Spangbergianism is an attempt to become sovereign, to be expelled, kicked out and that’s of course a pretentious comment, so I will of course not… so tell me what it is about: this is about what’s next, it doesn’t offer content, this is about silver and screen. This about OTT-ness and losing it.

This blog is about a fool, a failure, an eccentricity, a dead-end, a by-product of a history that had more enduring and more valuable prizes to offer. It cannot be recognised by the organization as something meaningful or purposeful. It is a joke, a madman, a fashion victim.

From today on, 22 August, the intention is to pass a blog post on a daily basis, it’s reflecting dance and choreography as spectacle in every possible sense, but it’s not about trend or market. This is about too much too soon.

Bring up the volume, forget Cage

22 Aug

Among current trends in dance one can identify a compulsive attraction to electric guitars. Lately the guitar has made its way back in dance with a vengeance, but of course not understood as a musical instrument or something to which definition is already given. Music is the new cool in dance, and the absolutely most uncool is naked men and DJ’ing. Singing is semi-cool but stay away from exoticism and capitalization on the behalf of somebody that could be called other. Just forget about that department, it will always bring trouble. A better proposal is to throw dollar bills on the audience – coupé décalée style.

To form a band is a very bad idea in 2010. Stop it! You don’t want to be in a band. Get real, it’s just some silly idea of realizing your youth dreams. Look, you are doing business – it might sound pathetic but dance is a business and you have no where else to go. To form a band is as stupid as thinking that Bill Gates created Guitar Hero because he always wanted to be in a band.

If you, when you visited you parents this summer, went downstairs to catch up with your old Stratocaster copy, make sure this was the last time. Do not do that again! Concert… embarrassing in the first place but then where… In the foyer, or festival centre of a dance festival. Seriously. Songs sang with the voice placed between your collarbones. Vulnerability 2010 is not recommended.

Sound is definitely the new cool, but with music come figures and entourage and the first to show up is always John Cage. This summer I have already seen two shows based on the lecture on nothing, and I hear rumors about a handful other pieces. John Cage is not cool and his lectures are modernist mumbo jumbo – R.I.P. don’t resurrect those old monsters, they will at best become zombies, living-dead rejecting contemporary technologies and social networks as inauthentic. As if we want autonomy.

Now, what is the lecture on nothing about? Nobody seems to know, however I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Quentin Tarantino. You know it’s not about nothing or music, it’s not about structures or repetition. It can’t be, if so it’s simply too stupid. The lecture on nothing is obviously a critique of male heterosexual production, delicately resonating with its environment: never up in the face and yet a sort of undercover nail in the eye of male representational frames. The critique is moving around the central note, it refuses to adhere to established tonalities and fiddles with harmonies, but most of all it avoids any kind of production as an ungrounding of the entire system of male heterosexual production. The lecture of nothing undermines an entire system and what amazes me is that the follower of Cage is such a genuine hetero. I like the image of a bunch of young male lets say bassoon players, needless to say very hetero, expressing their admiration for Cage in the local music academy. The bassoon player in conversation with the clarinetist: “-So radical, so subversive…” not realizing that what they support is a gay manifesto. Sweet.

However a new problem arrived, what does it mean when a female choreographer gives the lecture supported by, so to say, a master in her Ipod headphones supporting the text with a fleshy rather eroticized improvisation. Eszter Salamon subordinates herself to the equalized, indifference of John Cage’s voice, liberating herself from representation without nobody realizing. Salamon’s dance is not very exiting, it’s long and the text is so dated, so tiring to have to listen to all those quasi esoteric tropes that ooze of vanity, but this is precisely where Salamon’s piece goes undercover, where it goes tactical and has nothing to do with Cage, but only this lecture can give her permission to unground, decode herself. Salamon gives Cage the possibility to undo herself.

Burrows and Fargion are in their n’th duo using the same lecture. Obsessed with structures the two men fiddle and fiddle and fiddle with the lectures making it even more important, giving it even more significance. Where Salamon dissolves the two boys appropriates and so to say surf the wave of Cage. And by the way, if the interpretation of the lecture proposed is correct, aren’t Burrows and Fargion announcing themselves as a gay couple. Sweet, they are giggling and dancing a bit clumsy. Contained and perfect. Jonathan and Mateo.

Sound is back in business, and perhaps Cage is more than a dead composer. It’s definitely the new cool, but forget Cage and let’s engage in making thing. Nothing is not an option, this year its all about “Too Much Too Soon” – make up and stop being modest.