This is an intimidatingly large, shocking pink, hardcover object (with 2 DVDs!), that wielded even with an absence of technique would spell the end of many promising dance careers; dropped from standing, it would cause serious bruising, swearing, and possibly metatarsal fractures. A good contribution to dance, then.
Which I acquired because Dasniya was talking about it, I went into St George’s and got distracted by a YouTube party (“You dancin’?”, “You askin’?”) and collected it last night on my biking way east. I think mostly I bought it because of the section on Anouk van Dyke’s Countertechnique, and the accompanying DVD of this; I mean, let’s be honest here, if contemporary dance in north-central europe in 2010 means Cunningham, Limon and other grandparent-aged ideas about dancing and training, we’re all fucked.
There’s lots of photos of people (students; mostly young women – which also says something about contemporary dance), doing side-tilts, Cunningham curves, side-tilts with leg swings, all of that rather rigid and fossilised conurbation of approaches to dance that … well, thankfully there wasn’t a section on Martha Graham or I’d be using the book to kindle a fire under Uferstudios. Anouk was – in my late-night skimming through – the only person to reference choreographers from the last twenty or so years, which unsurprisingly showed in the pictures of her class, where people looked like they were actually given the privilege of inhabiting their bodies and experiencing dancing, rather than rigor mortis paddle hands, hanging on to the air in desperation. I’m being unduly harsh, yes. Perhaps.
I find the idea that these old techniques are necessary, can teach someone anything about how to dance ‘contemporary dance’, is a symptom of the colonialism in this artform. Even though anecdotes aren’t evidence, there was a dancer in the Guangdong Modern Dance Company who had only done Chinese traditional dance before joining, and he was astounding, and yes, there are always exceptions (I greet your anecdote with inane aphorism), and there’s an obvious point of contention in why I might think this of contemporary dance training techniques, but simultaneously think ballet is all-round useful, and I haven’t even read the book yet. I expect I’ll skim a lot. Anouk interests me at the moment because I don’t know much about her, and I’ve been piecing together ideas of how to train in specific ways in order to move in other specific ways, so perhaps she’ll be useful. Perhaps also I’ll say something different once I begin reading it properly.