English Country Dancing

gvshp_englishcountrydance.png__598x399_q85_crop_upscale (2).pngToday I finally attended an English Country Dance at Cecil Sharp House. The two hours were really fun and accessible and friendly (it was the end of term Christmas special which may have helped too). People were really welcoming and it seemed pretty easy to pick up the basic steps (I think my dance training made this less scary) with a caller and obliging partners, although I imagine there are many refinements that take much longer to learn. I enjoyed the democracy of it – anyone can dance (I joined on the last day of term) or come along and play an instrument and choreographies are held and shared by the whole group. There seemed to be a charming process of asking people to partner so we switched around frequently. The group was generally older than me (mostly in their 60s I would guess) although there were about ten or so people in their 30s so it was pretty mixed by most standards.

There was also a dance called Byron’s Mallet which I though was amusing.

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Dance-making as politics-making

pol1 (1).jpgForeward

In this post I follow a convention of including  – wherever possible – images of key people cited as a reminder that although ideas are memetic and not particular to people, if we are to recognise acts of authorship it is useful to highlight that they are particular people with bodies. (Conventional citation hides gender even) bodies that provide the foundation for their thought. I think it’s important to somehow root their ideas in their bodies or at least try to make clear that these ideas aren’t abstract things floating around a library but were born of particular bodies.

The embarrassing fact is, as you will see, that the citations are almost entirely white men. Whose fault is this – the library’s? the academy’s? the discipline’s? mine? Well I am part of all of these (except the library) to varying degrees so it is my responsibility. This is not uncommon (the norm I think) but is still something to take responsibility for. I highly recommend reading Sarah Ahmed’s post about white men (for her current book she has a policy of not citing any white men). 

So making visible this unsurprising bias is a small first step but the real business is to read more widely, something that probably requires the kind of firm policy that Ahmed is employing since every bookshelf is a sausagefest. So I wonder whether I should post this at all. I think there is something in it but it is undermined by an increasing sense of blinkered parochialism.

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Community Dance and Politics

23BEL-articleLarge (1).jpgIn what ways does community dance practice and rhetoric link to politics?

Community dance is defined by its emphasis on process (rather than product) and benefits of the process on individuals and communities. These benefits coincide with national priorities of government and this explains the traditional support given to community dance by national government in the UK until recently.

However a less traditional understanding of community dance that runs into social choreography points to a different form of Political currency.

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Violence, Repetition and fascism

political-mother-hands-up (1).jpgHere’s some writing by Sarah Rubridge from 1989 about the implications of violent repetitious choreography. I think it’s still relevant 25 years on. The images were selected by me.

“The vocabulary employed by many artists  [whose work address political issues] is based on the conventions of physical theatre which has its own political agenda. The movement is often violent and frequently self-abusive, their actions genuinely risky and replete with repressed (and expressed) anger.

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Losing touch with care

1415988380740_Image_galleryImage_No_Merchandising_Editoria.JPGIt’s not really news to point out that award winning TV show The Big Bang Theory is a load of sexist shit. I have to admit however that I do sometimes watch it.

Since it started in 2007, a running joke has been that one of the main characters Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) has a really needy/ controlling mother, that we never see her just hear her (Carol Ann Susi) shouting from elsewhere in their shared house.

There’s a good tradition of unseen sit com characters but I think the joke here works because (we are told) that Mrs Wolowitz is immensely overweight and hirsute – a ‘horror’ hard to cast and only enhanced by leaving it in our imagination.

Mrs Wolowitz also sometimes needs to be cared for by her son and I suspect this is another image that mainstream TV wants to hide from us. I think we don’t like generally to see people that are overweight or sick.

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