So I have ideas about ballet and dance that conflict with everyone, yes nearly everyone. I change my own mind periodically. This makes it difficult to put ideas out there that are going to trigger flashes of disagreement that might lead to anger. Have you ever noticed how many of us walk around on eggshells in the dance world – especially the ballet world? We have these terrible clashes of ideology and fact, myths that are perpetuated as causal links (when they only sometimes are correlative). It’s shocking to me when for example, someone who thinks that Sissonne means scissors isn’t curious to discover that it doesn’t. It’s the name of some guy who probably liked to jump around from two feet to one…a lot. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sissonne But point this out to someone who is convinced otherwise and they may attack. I remember one teacher telling me that the book from which I was quoting couldn’t be trusted because it contained Cecchetti terminology (and RAD and Vaganova…) but never mind. The Cecchetti was enough to erase any attempt to open up discussion and I was left dancing around the truth. Never mind that there is already a scissor step, pas de ciseaux. This ad hominem (actually ad librum) argument/fallacy is repeated all the time. And is related to the idea that ballet was right at a certain moment in time (argumentum ad antiquitatem), as though there is a ballet god that will rain lightening down upon any who don’t know the truth… (oops, that’s another, Argumentum ad verecundiam or ad baculum). (Logical fallacy info below.)
And so I hesitate to put my thoughts out into the world for fear that I will create enemies, that someone will discover my secrets and out me for disagreeing with them. In the studio there is a context for my ideas and my teaching. I try to be transparent about the sources of my ideas and create a unifying philosophy for education and creativity. Within the studio I can only hope that we understand our specific mission. This is why I think students need different teachers for short periods of time – in order to absorb a philosophy, a point of view. To get a complete picture of your teacher’s theories so you can make educated decisions as you move forward. But I digress….
So in the interest of education, of risk-taking and of progress, I am going to do my best to avoid pulling my punches. Dance people can be incredibly cruel (as Sam from Burn Notice said it, “a bunch of bitchy little girls”). I want to get out of this pattern and move onto a dance world where we can be honest and where women can be valued for their ideas and can challenge the norm. I have frequently fallen into the trap of wanting to please, be agreeable, don’t rock the boat, be liked. Some have called me subversive (but in a quiet way). I think I am done being quiet.
Some logic links and other stuff:
- Whyte, Jamie (2003) Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking, Corvo Books
- Baggini, Julian (2006) The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher, Plume