No to spectacle, no to virtuosity, no to transformations and magic
and make-believe, no to the glamour and transcendency of the star image...?
It's from Yvonne Rainer's 1965 manifesto that formed some of the precepts of the Judson Church movement.
I find myself rapidly and blissfully saying 'YES' to all of the above, but that's not why I posted the quote.
For Rainer at that moment, discovering her beliefs about dance was paradoxically not about saying 'yes' and keeping herself open but about saying 'no'. As counterintuitive as it sounds, I'd like to come to its defense.
It makes no sense to enter into the study or appreciation of dance with a closed mind. But there also comes a time for a dancer or an artist needs to decide what their vision of dance is. And often, that means paring certain things out, or even actively deciding you are against certain things.
What are my NOs?
NO to sensation over content.
NO to dishonest choreography that aims for the comfort zone.
NO to choreography for pointe work by people who don't understand the pointe shoe.
NO to ballet choreography by people who don't like ballet.
NO to dances that ought to be essays.
NO to using ballet as the embodiment of hell rather than heaven.
Yes, there are choreographers on my NO list too (and NO, I'm not mentioning their names.) But there are people's work I've given up trying to like, for the above reasons. It's been tremendously liberating.
So. . .was there ever a time when, in order to grow as a dancer, artist, or audience member, to discover what it is about dance that you loved, you felt you had to "Just say No"?