In the last post I turned to a 2009 research paper on why British and Dutch politicians chose to go on Have I got News for You and its Dutch adaptation, Dit was het Nieuws. The motives of the politicians who participated in these programmes drew from three distinct but overlapping repertoires: a strategic repertoire, an indulgent repertoire and an anti-elitist repertoire.
This post will look at the second of these repertoires (in relation to dancing publicly) which boils down to “having fun” and ” a nice change from day-to-day politics.”
They see their participation as one of the pleasant by-products of being a well-known politician, but do not expect or need any direct political benefits from it. There are some strategic motives of personal visibility involved here, but these are absent for the well-established politicians.
Previously I suggested that dance can be a requirement of political office. I’d like to continue that theme to look at how dance can be a tool in diplomacy.
We can think of dance diplomacy here in the same way that we think of dinner diplomacy – as a ‘soft’ form of engagement, personal and intimate. Dance and dining are activities that involve contact at an equal level – something that is informal, enjoyable, and can operate outside of all other status.
In my last post I discussed how the body of a speaker conveys their character and is part of the persuasive tools of the politician. But the body of a politician, and in particular the head of state, can also be taken to convey the character of the entire country.
Through Speeching I am interested in thinking about political speeches as if they are dances or performances, but what about when politicians actually dance?
The first and oldest reason is if dancing is an actual requirement of political office; if it is part of a politician’s job. This might seem a little strange but here in the UK, politicians take part in a yearly symbolic and carefully choreographed performance – the State Opening of Parliament which marks the beginning of the parliamentary session.
[Originally published at guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 October 2012, before David Cameron’s speech at the 2012 Conservative Party Conference. Reproduced in time for David Cameron’s speech at the 2013 Conservative Party Spring conference with kind permission of the author.]
From asyndeton to hyperbole, how many of Cameron’s tics will you spot in his speech today? Simon Lancaster sets the tone
I start with asyndeton. Short sentences. Bundled together. In groups of three. Sounds breathless. Urgent. Hyperventilating. No conjunctions. Wonky grammar. Disconnected ideas. Look left. Look right. Look centre. They’re listening. They’re watching. They’re feeling. Then stop. Pause. Breathe.
The Lady’s Not For Walking Like an Egyptian is a performance by Rachel Mars and nat tarrab crossing “all of the words of Margaret Thatcher’s public speeches from the 80s with all of the words of every top ten hit by a female artist from the 1980s” The following article by theatre critic and journalist Matt Trueman was originally published on his website and is reproduced with kind permission.
Warning: Rachel Mars and nat tarrab are infectious. It takes only a few hours of watching the two women at work to fall utterly in love with them as artists. The combination of playful absurdity and questing rigour that motors their process means theirs is a rehearsal room that never stops; one that bubbles with excitement and a relentless, restless energy. There is a constant hum of creation – making, probing, puzzling, laughing – and it all happens at a frenetic pace that scarcely lets up for a minute. It would be exhausting to watch, if watching weren’t such a joy.
There’s talk this week of Home Secretary Theresa May being a future contender for the leader of the Conservative Party. Could she be our second female Prime Minster I wonder?
This brings me (on International Women’s Day) to think about speeches given by women.
Eva Percy, part of the Speeching research group, writes about her recent visit to the House of Commons.
On the evening of the 25th February I had the privilege to enter into Parliament. Within the Parliament buildings there was a sense of authority and importance, a sense of power. The infrastructure oozed history, as it dawned on me that within these buildings history was made. Individuals walked with determination and vigour. As I walked through Westminster Hall, on my way to the House of Commons, I felt awe and amazement wash through me. As I went to collect my ticket for access into the Special Gallery, I felt excitement and curiosity.