A dancer’s worth

Je vous présente un texte de David Pressault, nouvel auteur en résidence sur ce blogue. David a lu le débat qui s’est tenu sur Facebook (Jamie Wright) au sujet du faible taux de participation des danseurs à l’AGA du RQD  et a eu envie de contribuer au débat. Je l’ai encouragé à le faire ici. Son texte est en anglais, d’abord parce qu’il est plus à l’aise de s’exprimer par écrit dans cette langue, mais aussi parce qu’il lui tient à coeur d’inclure dans la discussion nos nombreux collègues anglophones.

The issue here is complicated and to go deeply into it is like seeing what lies under the tip of the iceberg. Actually, I believe that the dancer’s low attendance in public and political spheres points to a symptomatic situation of a much bigger issue and this issue is a concern to both the dancers themselves but also the whole dance community. Nevertheless, one question remains: Why don’t dancers feel that attending the RQD AGA is important.

Indirectly, I thought about this question when I wrote my Masters thesis. One of my conclusions is that there are many factors in the training and the professional milieu of a dancer that contributes in giving them the tools to be open and available to the “other” but very little in terms of empowering them. For example, too little in our dance culture/milieu recognises the dancer’s contribution and the importance of what they do. This along with many other elements in their training and professional lives aggravates a sense that they have no power, no real “weight in the balance”, as Catherine’s blog so aptly addresses.

The culture of dance remains one where we train individuals (dancers) to be “instruments”, to be malleable to a choreographer’s vision, to be extremely sensitive, to the “other”. So much so, that at some point we have to ask ourselves “when does the dancer cultivate a healthy sense of his/her own worth”. In a culture, where most dancers live on desperate conditions where they can’t make ends meet with their dancing, are often struggling with their injured bodies and to top it off they get very little recognition for their long training and hard work and worst, aren’t even mentioned on photos and articles sometimes. Again we have to ask ourselves where do they stand in terms of their own sense of empowerment.

This feeling of having a healthy sense of one’s own power also gives an individual a sense that their voice matters which is not the way we train dancers. We train dancers to be instruments for someone else. The reason why most dancers don’t feel that the RQD’s AGA matters points right back to their own sense of power and the importance of their own individual voice. At the same time as this reflects an inner psychological state within many dancers we also have to ask ourselves if collectively and unconsciously as a milieu we feed this notion that dancers aren’t really important.

One way to address this issue is to individually, as dancers, choreographers, artistic directors, agents at the CALQ, company administrators or teachers, ask ourselves if in our own conception of dance, we haven’t unconsciously given too little value to the profession of the dancer. When collectively we will give the role of the dancer its rightful due, we won’t forget to mention their names ever again like we never forget to mention the names of choreographers. But as long as the imbalance between these and many other roles are kept, the message that we are sending dancers is the same as the one they often received in their training which is “in the big scheme of things, you don’t really matter”. When you don’t really matter what is the point of going to the RQD’s AGA?

Une réflexion sur “A dancer’s worth

  1. Jamie Wright dit :

    Thank you, David, for putting into words in the public domain an issue which remains largely in the dark. How to shift the balance in order to give room to the dancer’s sense of empowerment in the studio is an ongoing process and takes the involvement of all players. Talking about it openly is the first step.

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