I have a confession to make: I’ve been very distracted these past months. And it’s not just the usual work grind or overloading of reading and researching. In fact none of my excuses can be traced back to academia anymore.
No, I’ve just been distracted by post-graduate life. Not a current or former dance major? Let me explain. I’m in a daze, you see.
I’m a freelance writer but I haven’t properly researched since April. (I’m currently stuck between 200 words and a hard place, eking out a planned dance-related proposal for a conference in NYC that I can’t even afford.) I’m working for a prestigious ballet company (part-time, intern) but I’m not interacting with dance as I ought to.
All of my gained knowledge from learning about dance in all forms and ways during college is slowly molding in my brain, gathering dust. (Though I’m beyond grateful to work and help out here with the Archives!)
I know now more than ever that I belong in academia. Teaching dance majors about the very specifics of dance history and aesthetics while I was an undergrad TA at TXST was the best time of my entire 5 years-plus dance career.
Now that that’s off my chest, looking at dance in 2016: What will change? What can change? What won’t change? What shouldn’t change?
Like politics, change is the hot click-bait phrase we sew into the seeds of the audience, general and dance alike. They think they are “in” on the entire operation of dance from conception to performance, but let’s be honest, you aren’t really “in” unless you work in it and believe in it.
Dance in all its forms is a interlinking universe, vast and expansive and always kept alive by sheer human passion. Dance isn’t kept alive by one single area, not but the solo contributions of choreographers or administrations or photographers or writers or viewers or musicians or performers or production or all else. It’s everything.
We need to remember that change shouldn’t highlight dance to the general public and dance audience as a Buzzfeed post. Keeping change in dance as a necessary, positive (balanced with the negative), and on-going development and a task for everyone involved.
Writers will write (much like I do here). Viewers will watch (yes, they always will). Choreographers and dancers will create (originally or otherwise, at least they can’t stop creating).
We all do what we can for the sake of dance.
As a post-graduate dance major (and prospective graduate student/PhD dance researcher) I want to move into the future not by just looking back. I have to push myself to remain present, active, alert, and bold. Nothing hurts art more than an inactive, passive, and bland participant.
Do I like everything in dance? No, not by a long shot.
Do I have to know about everyone in dance? Not unless I want to ruin the act of surprise.
And what can I do for dance? I will keep finding my way in 2016.
What can dance do for me?
It keeps me alive in the very symbolic sense. Without any dance research in my life, even the little tidbits I do for this blog and try to squeeze into The Nerdist, I wither away and fail to exist in the world I was part of for the majority of my teenage and young adult life. I know I have so many years ahead of me, so many things to learn. But I already have that leg-up, my dance studies BFA.
Oh, that little component that the world violently whispers to my ears some days, “It’s not worth it anymore.” The same one that some people in the dance world are allowed to forgo for “practical experience.” I have that little paper in the name of dance. And I’m proud to own it and want to use it.
I just wish for another paper which will legally allow me to help others get their own little papers to proud be of and use of the good of dance.
Where you start will have impact on where you end up.
Oh, the places you’ll go.
And all that other positive graduation shit…
To end the year, I highlight a photographer who’s work has struck me as the very definition of contemporary ballet.
Portraits aren’t my thing. I hate shooting them and usually roll my eyes at most attempts to capture “raw personalities in dance.” It’s just such a hassle behind the lens, and the end result is usually the same dribble we’ve seen over and over again.
The dramatic, grinning over-splits of those overly-edited photos isn’t what we see on-stage, you know. Some dancers are flamboyant, but most are just doing their best during classes and performances.
But here’s a photographer who seems to have the secret. His work for the Royal Ballet is phenomenal and current. It has the power to change how ballet dancers are photographed and viewed in 2D; from gilded, glittering, smiling, fake dramatic, unapproachable to humanistic and passionate.
This crop of elite ballet dancers are now exposed for the all the right reasons. It’s refreshing in a world of back and forth labeling ballet as “this-or-that and not this-or-that.”
Contemporary ballet is here.
Classical ballet is here, too. Don’t worry, modern dance won’t disappear either.
And here’s perhaps the best kept secret of the dance world; there are hundreds of dance forms moving along this planet with the rest of humankind.
I propose we sew a new word, helping generation audiences-general public and dance audiences-who can truly understand the importance of dance: ALIVE.
Dance is alive.
Learn more about Rick Guest’s portraits of the Royal Ballet here: