a manifesto

Interview for Amsterdam Manifesto by dance artists
Also published in Proximity / Australia

Is choreography dance?

No. Choreography’s are cues set in time frames.

Is choreography an art form?

No. Dance is an art form. Choreography is a simple tool being made even simpler by technology and communication in the 21rst century. Choreography is a part of what goes into the effort of showing and doing dance. It is a collaborative part of dance, but it is not dance any more than composition is music. Music is music.

Is dance influenced by choreography?

I am not influenced by the choreography’s but more by the techniques, concepts and artistic visions of choreographers. Cunningham is a mentor for me because he has continued to investigate and collaborate, not because I can recognize his signatures from the past. He continues to promote dancing in spite of the limits of his choreographys. In music composition we are left with music. In dance choreography we are left with dance. If I am left with only the choreography or the composition it is history. A public does not need an education to engage with a dance or music performance if they are left with the dance or the music. They do if they are going to be left with a load of historical references. Dutch funded choreography today is a good example of being left with composition and choreography only. It has a similar effect on me as watching an old sifi film with its huge knobs and blinking lights; the time structures are forced and the technology is dated to the point of the absurd. The artistic aims of both dancers and choreographers seem blurred by a singular value system of the body. As if they have been forced into an aesthetic muse without question. The dancers look as if they have been trained in Cunningham’s technique and/or ballet in kind of ‘hired in’ teacher mimicry. Those who agree with the esthetic muse are happy and funded. Those who question it are marginalized. It does not encourage the dancer to dance. It encourages the dancer to pretend to dance. Pauline Degroot is one of the only choreographers in Holland whom I have shared influences. She has developed a technique that supports her body esthetic and makes structures functional to that aim. She uses methods for choreography that are confusing because it is difficult to know who is in charge. Is it Pauline, the dancers or Buddha? However, she has never lost focus on her artistic aim to communicate a body esthetic that is in great contrast to the ballet or any historical referencing. She is not embarrassed by the paradoxes that her vision contains. She pursues the questions inherit to the paradoxes. In Pauline’s vision of dance, the body is not only an objective to an aesthetic. It is subjective by the laws of nature. Its ‘choreography’ comes with the package. Pauline is a postmodern artist first and a choreographer later. This is what makes her choreography valuable for another generation of dance artists in Holland. Choreography has absolutely nothing to do with dancing without this kind of process. I do not think that her choreography’s alone are what we will value anymore than the modernist works before her. But I do think that her artistic vision and her concepts need to be. By cutting Pauline Degroot out of the Dutch dance funding, we have cut a lineage of dance work for Dutch culture. What we have been left with is an empty tittle on a grant application that allows for anyone who can place a trained ballet dancer into a reasonably neat structure to be called a choreographer.

Are you a choreographer?

No I am not developing a technique and I am not able to follow a singular esthetic muse. Choreography is supportive of my aim but not my objective. I understand perfectly well how technique can be the study of an esthetic by way of the study of the body but in my work, technique is the study of the body with no implied aesthetic. The esthetic is in chance and the cues are in chance. ‘Esthetics is not technique’.

What is your statement for the manifesto?

The lists of artists in the letter I received about this manifesto are not artists who I would consider to be Choreographers. In some cases, I have seen the destruction of choreography in front of my eyes by these artists and enjoyed it very much. So why go to the funders with a manifesto to broaden the funding for choreographers? In the case of Pauline Degroot, it is long over due, but in the case of these artists on the manifesto list or me; I think it quite odd. Why are we using the term ‘choreographers’? Because that is what is on the application forms for dance art funding and we want the money so we can work.

What is your manifesto?

The applications for dance funding needs to be changed. In a project application I am forced to fill the role of choreographer so that everyone will feel insured of a safe journey home. But just because I remember where I live does not mean I will arrive there. If an artist always arrives where they live then they are doing history. The funding panels ask questions that are not relevant to how economics or information is experienced in our lifestyles today. Get the emphasis off the choreography and composition as isolated areas for artists to fill. Get the emphasis on the dance, the music and the live event, the art form.

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