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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

On Political Gestures and Social Choreographic Movements

the-standing-man.jpgA version of this conversation first appeared in DYAD (2014) by Alice Tatge and Therese Steele

1) As an ex civil servant turned choreographer with a particular interest in politically driven social movement, we would be interested in you comparing two distinct acts of protest that occurred in Istanbul during the spring/summer 2013. 

For dance to work as a form of street protest it must be widely known or easily learnt, which generally means a folk dance (for example Wazir Attan in Pakistan or Toyi-toyi in South Africa) or something popular on Youtube (Thriller, Gangam Style, Harlem Shake). Protest dances with new choreography are rare (I can only think of One Million Rising’s dance against violence to women) and require a certain luxury of resources.

Continue reading

Embodied metaphor

 

“…valley of segregation…”

“…path of racial justice…”

“…solid rock of brotherhood…”

Metaphor is unquestionably a powerful tool in speeches. These are just three from Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and the visualisation below shows the frequency of metaphor throughout his historic address (with pink bars representing metaphors and visual words).

Continue reading