Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dance barriers

A debate has been going on in dance circles about the quality of British dance works, with John Ashford, who was director of The Place, saying they were not very exciting in an issue of Time Out a few months ago.

Luke Jennings from the Observer gets involved this week, when he reviews a double bill by Hagit Yakira and Sara Dowling from Laban Theatre (Laban is a famous contemporary dance school)

'The problem with this kind of work is not, as Ashford claims, that it's timorous. It's that a substantial cohort of theory-laden choreographers have lost sight of the fact that they work in the theatre, for the benefit of a paying audience. The hour-long Yakira/Dowling programme is notionally open to the public (who, after all, have bankrolled the whole thing), with tickets priced at £12. But there's no local advertising, and the fact that the blurb-sheet doesn't even bother to credit the dancers - I recognised the ever-excellent Elisabetta d'Aloia, but no one else - tells us that non-Laban outsiders are not expected to attend.

These invisible barriers - and you often get the same insiders-only vibe at the Place - are bad for dance. They indicate an indifference to public opinion which, as the economic purse-strings tighten, the art form can ill afford. The choreographers who will survive are those whose work speaks to those outside the bubble, not just those who know the secret handshake.'

Full review here.