I find that the musicality of any choreography (and it doesn't matter if there's any actual dancing involved), is far more revealing in regards to the intentions behind the work, than any other aspect. Whatever is actually taking place on stage, as well as what's written in the program and the choreographer's intention note, are almost a kind of distraction from what is really happening.  

Choreography is a musical event, wether the maker is aware of that or not, and it can be accurately red through listening and looking at its musical properties alone. 

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The most effective way I've found to motivate and engage the dancers I work with, has to do with being able to accurately identify the moment when they become familiar and comfortable with a certain way of working and thinking, and shift away from it. But you can't just shift for shift sake, it has to be a genuine evolution of what they know so far. 

Dancers authentically challenged and intrigued by what they're working on, will give it their hearts and souls. 

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I feel that my first duety as choreographer, is to be able to gain the dancers' trust. To manage to genuinely convince them to follow me, rather than force them to do so out of a certain power position I'm at. 

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Dancers will always create better material for each other, than they would for themselves.  

It's an interesting phenomena to observe and contemplate upon when thinking about creative models and their efficiency.  

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I try to create choreographic systems, that will host anyone who steps inside of then, with the same indiscriminative ease in which sports game do. You don't need to be a professional NBA player to fully engage and enjoy a game of basketball. Any group of kids or retiered elders can just as well play the game, enjoy it, fully engage with and benefit from it. The sets of rules which make up most sport game, are not related to the technical level of the people playing them. They create an objective, neutral system. I find this to be a valuable angle under which to examine my own choreographic 'games'. They should be able to host anyone who wants to play them, in a natural and effective manner. 

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The central, yet rather transparent, concept behind repertoire companies, is the notion that dancers don't have an opinion or a say about who they're going to work with. That they have no artistic vision regarding the work they're part of. A sort of faceless army of highly trained bodies, held down at some sort of infantile mindset, in service of whomever someone else will chose for them as choreographer. 

When stepping outside of the context of preservation of old works, and into contemporary creation, this reality is hightly present and impacts the work being made. In a way, the fact these companies hold a large chunk of ressources, both in budgets allocated to dance and through the large number of dancers trapped in these institutions, is weighing on the ability of the art form to evolve and develop. 

The entire classical ballet, néoclassicisme, and modern dance repertoires and traditions, need no more than a dozen companies around the world to be effectively preserved and performed. There simply isn't so much extraordinary and important repertoire works to start with, and there aren't as many rep companies at the level to actually perform these works properly. The result is hundred of mediocre companies performing old mediocre works. There's no way this can benefit the art form as a whole. 

One of the reasons contemporary dance is so margenelized, and offeres so little artistic value in relations to the potential it holds, is to a large extant due to the stagnation caused by the stifling effect repertoire companies have on all aspects of the dance world. They suck up the majority of financial ressources allocated to dance, they numb and dumb the dance audience by only giving them what they already know, they hire and promote anachronistic dance makers that will not disrup their 19th century mentality, and they hold back talented dancers, keeping them hostage through fix salaries and other such benefits.

in the past 20 years, I've worked with over 30 rep companies around the world, I've yet to see one where the dancers were happy, charged, challenged, empowered, artistically nourished and truely respected. What I see time and again, is young people on the verge of constant physical collapse, injured, mentally drained, uninterested and uninspiried by most of the work the do, abused, disempowered, controled, emotionally manipulated, bored, separated and tirned against each other, and hurt in so many other ways they're not even aware of. 

it brakes my heart. 

 

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If the work fucuses on, or stops at the level of the movement material, it misses entirely all the questions arising from the choreographic tool, the investigation of what choreographic thinking might be, what can it serve for, and what does it looks like 

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Effective creativity happens when you find yourself on shaky grounds, yet have enough knoladge and insight into the thing you're doing to allow you to navigate it clearly.  

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The art of choreographing to me, is mostly about indendifing precisely the phases of the process, in which your presence is needed, and those in which it will get in the way of, disturb, distract, disempower, control, limit, hold back and confuse the dancers. 

the more I work, the more the time I feel my active presence (which is very different from my presence as an external observer) within the process is absolutely necesary, gets shorter. It has to do with understanding what effective choreographic action is, the clarity and efficiency of the interventions and guidance taking place, and the constant drive to maximize dancers' choreographic involvement and responsibility towards the process as a whole. 

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Working with ballet masters, rehearsal directors etc, basically means you do not trust your dancers, you did not manage to create a system which empowers them to be autonomose and fully responsible for the work they do, and that you are absent as a choreographer. 

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It seems to be a fact that most art critics, as well as art scholars and theoreticians, are failed artists. One doesn't choose to be an artist. You are one, or you're not. It's an evidence. You can be a true artist and still not manange to make art for whatever reason, and you can make art and have a sucsseful career, even if you're not one. But the difference between an artist and one that isn't, is strikingly obvious.  

The fact most people who speak about art, think about it, write, curate, critic, teach and so on, are in most cases those who wished, failed, or didn't dare to make art themselves, has a deep impact on any artistic field, as they usually hold consequent power and influence in relations to the art field they are referring to and working within. But there's no denying, that in most cases (with rare exptions) they derail the art forms they refer to in different ways. They hold back, confuse, distract, blur, create false hierarchies, interfere, block, slow down, side track and in general, hurt the positive and natural evolution of the art form they hold so dear.

in an ideal setup, there would simply be artists, and audiences. The notion that art needs external mediators, is a false one I believe. The damages these mediators produce, trough acumelating power positions, ressources, influence and a general 'say' In relations to art and artists, are evident when looking at most artistic fields. The accepted notion that artists are these talented, yet capricious infantile beings that need to be guided, managed, channeled, translated, controlled, curated, explained and organized by 'adult' figures, is preposterous.

It is interesting to note, that the more an art form is happening within a direct dialog with it's audience (music, film etc), the less it's dependent on public ressources (dance being almost entirely dependent on them..) and the less it is bound to the setup of gate keepers (as is still the case in the visual arts), the samler the impact of that parasite like dynimic is apparent, and the more it is vibrent, produces a wider range of artistic propositions, and in general seems to be evolving in a more natural way while managing to offer real contemporary quality works.

 

http://www.vulture.com/2017/04/jerry-saltz-my-life-as-a-failed-artist.html

 

 

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if it's not fun to dance, it's bad choreography. On the other hand, It can be fun to dance, yet still be bad.  

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The level of visibility of any individual dancer while on stage, is directly linked to the amount of data he or she are processing and managing in real time. 

Group unisons are a good example for that. 

When the technical aspects of achieving and maintaining a unison are external (counts, a fixed relation to the music etc), the result is a disappearance of individual presence into an anonymous mass of people. 

When unisons are managed without these external crutches, and are left to be negotiated and managed in real time by the dancers, the result will usually be much more accurate, and at the same time, the individual presence of each dancer will shine intensely. 

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Choreographing is an ongoing juggling act between dancers and choreographer, of both trust and responsibility. 

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Everything I know, I learned it through choreographing.

everything I learned about people, groups, relationships, systems, responsibility, trust, processes, art, politics, myself and the act itself of learning, I learned through the choreographic process.

It's my teacher, mentor, guide and coach. 

 

photo by Julia Gat

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A choreographic system which does not harness the entire choreographic capacity of the dancers involved, is working at 5% of its overall creative potential. The processing power of a system is directly linked to its ability to combine that of all its participants. 

In most cases, the current state of affairs is that dancers are educated and tamed not to tap into their choreographic potentials, as they are mostly expected to follow input given by the choreographer (which basically means the work will necessarily be about her/him, which is the single most boring creative strategy I find). This being the norm, has so many negative implications on the current choreographic landscape, and only a dramatic shift in the existing education methods of young dancers, alongside a redefinition of what is a choreographer's role, might allow for a much needed change. 

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Reading dance critics sometimes feels like listening to a child holding a toy car in his hand, while explaining to an old mechanic, who spent a life time taking apart engins and putting them back together, how cars function. It's hilarious and ridiculous at the same time (without the sweetness of course...)   

There is no other art form happening withing the context of such poor readership, which is to a large extent the reason for the ongoing marginalization of choreography as an art form. 

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I think of choreography as a sort of natural phenomena. Something to look at and contemplate upon, like one would any other manifestation of naturally assembled elements. In that sense, a choreography has the same properties and may provide the same experience one  would have when looking at the ocean, the sky, a crowded street, a flock of birds, a mountain or a group of children playing.

Bounding choreography to specific themes, narratives or messages, reduces it into something that smells like preaching or propaganda in the best case, or gossip when at its worse. And in both cases, it is unavoidably deeply manipulative. The thing I find most appealing about all natural phenomenas, is that there isn't the slightest shade of manipulation about them. The option doesn't even exist. 

The récurent need of both makers and audiences to handicap the choreographic medium in such ways, has more to do with fear than anything else I feel. It's a way to find reassurance by avoiding completely the act of unbiased, open observation. I think that choreography should deal with how things are made, rather than how they look or what is the story they tell, which is always bound to be a superficial discussion about appearances, rather than an examination of the THING itself.

The damages this approach to dance making produces to everyone involved, choreographers, dancers, audiences and the art form in general, are innumerable I find.

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Choreography is a sort of group consciousness. Very different from the individual one, yet very transformative in the way it affects and Informs it. 

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