Bored of the Dance?

by Stephen Tall on January 24, 2011

I like a challenge. And challenges for me don’t come much bigger than dancing… whether committing the act myself — as an arhythmic member of the English white, male, middle-classes I do my best to evade getting jiggy wiv it on the dance-floor — or feigning enjoyment in the dance acts committed by others.

So I faced my challenge head-on this week, and spent an evening watching the Danish Dance Theatre perform three pieces of contemporary dance, a fusion of modern and traditional.

I’d love to say that, in a Damascean flash, suddenly my eyes were opened, that the beautiful mystery of dance at last stood before me, magically revealed. Sadly, no. The production was, I could tell, top-drawer, visually stunning. The dancers were flawlessly agile, technically brilliant.

Yet the evening left me utterly un-moved. The best of the three dances was ‘Kridt’, set to the music of Peteris Vasks’s suite for strings Musica Adventus:


(Available on YouTube here.)

Given I couldn’t fault the skills of the Company, I tried to work out why it was it didn’t connect with me at any level.

I decided in the end it was the absence of humour. Each of the three dances sought to tell a story, with ‘Kridt’ showing “a man on the verge of death remembering his life, loves and losses, as told by the men and women he has known”.

Yet when I remember my life (this journey, so far), I don’t recall it as an earnest pursuit. There have been highs, there have been lows, pleasure and regret, loss and delight: but all those experiences have been marked by laughter, even if through tears. For dance to reach out and touch me, to reflect accurately the panoply of common shared experience, there has to be joy. But that wasn’t on the Danish Dance Theatre’s menu.

Enough of the negative. Here are three dance-related clips that never fail to inspire some joy in me:

Cirque du Soleil (Alegría)

Ockham’s Razor (Arc)

Diversity