Sunday, 7 July 2013

Contemporary Dance - Pet Hates

Boston Ballet's Whitney Jensen, Jeffrey Cirio and Bo Busby in Plan to B
Photo: Gene Schiavone
For critic Donald Hutera, it's flexed feet onstage that make him cringe. Here is a list of my pet hates in contemporary dance:

1. Knee pads and socks
I understand that dancers need to protect their knees, but I think knee pads are hideously unattractive and should be kept hidden under trousers. Similarly, socks should be used but not seen. If the costume is a skirt or dress, I suggest going for bare legs with bare feet or ballet shoes..
2. Non-music 
If it's electronic, with no tune and no variation, it's not music. Though anything is better than silence. Does it make the choreography more profound when all you can hear is the dancers breathing? Not to me.
3. No wings
I guess I'm old fashioned and like a bit of mystery onstage. I want dancers to appear from the wings, and when I can see them standing waiting at the side, the surprise for me is spoilt.
4. Aimless walking/running
In ballet, dancers often run across the stage to greet another character, or round to the stage's back corner to give themselves space for diagonal travelling step. But why do contemporary choreographers seem to love aimless running and walking, and the even worse 'cousin' movement, running backwards? Perhaps it's a clever statement on the aimlessness of life that I don't understand.
5. Sudden inexplicable falling over
Why? I have no idea.
6. Magical force in the hand
This is a hard one to describe, but see my live mime demonstration and you will know exactly what I'm talking about. It's when dancers seem to be holding a magical force in their hand that causes all kinds of crazy, contorted responses in the body. As if Flubber has borrowed Harry Potter's invisibility cloak and decided to give contemporary dance a go.

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