A person moves in joy, speaks with smiles and wonder. A joy shared, a joy watched is a joy more than doubled, it gains more than numbers know. This is Men and Girls Dance by Fevered Sleep at Tate Britain (end 6 Aug). A joyful modern dance reimagined in the Tate Britain galleries.
There is obvious joy and wonder. There is a level of knowingness as well. Newspapers allude to the media and tabloid coverage.
Both girls and the men speak in observation of one another. In observation of us.
A male dancer sits with one of the girls and describes what he can see: the creases on her knuckles, her hair... she describes the same: the uneven hairs on the back of his neck, his heart beat... “I can see her looking at me” he says. Turning to us: “and I can see you looking at me.”
The joy and kindness in the dance, and the observations speak to the play we'd like with our children; fathers with daughters, friends with girls. It pushes back against media hysteria.
But here, I think is where the personal plays in. I do not hold that type of fear. I think we need to play - play in the street - fall down - stand up - dig, throw, eat mud (benefits of mud play). I believe our fear of abduction, our sense of the risk is misplaced against the chances of a car accident, and the more common dangers of life.
The flip side is those who do worry about abuse and neglect of our children. I'm unsure if they will be comforted by the joy here. Perhaps they should be.
The Tate, modern dance are still in the main middle class and elite pursuits though we ever strive for fairness and access.
The type of people who are in the Tate, who go to dance are at very low risk for this type of abuse (NSPCC references pdf). I doubt you can have a life well lived without risk, and this risk is tiny with the typical white family unit, with an available mother (no drugs, no poverty, employed, no mental illness and decent socail support)
Looking at the audience and the average Tate goer on the day, I'm unsure if this is reaching a non-white, non-ABC audience. Perhaps the Lates are better attended. That's a wider question on diversity and the wider reach of Art or not. Then again, we won't have an audience if we don't have a dance at all. This is a tangential thought... back to the work...
This is not to detract from the piece itself. I was worried if a babbling ASD boy would intersect poorly, but he didn't. Although he did provide a running commentary of underground train lines and some movement mimicry.
In the end, I do find the piece a dance of wonder, a dance of joy. A movement relationship spoken in kindness and in fun. Despite the media, despite the risks of today;
men and girls can dance, can be, can look, can see
and we can watch them
and feel their joy.