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An interview with Marten Spangberg, held at the "Choreography As Expanded Practice" conference in Barcelona.
You pointed out at some time that you started out as a dance critic. Would you please elaborate on that? I was trained as a musician, and somehow I started writing about opera in a nonprofit magazine. This magazine was forced to have something about dance, because of some art council that they got money from, and since I was the youngest in the editorial board, they told me that if I write about this dance stuff, I could also write about this Italian avant-garde opera. Quite quickly I realized that it's much more exiting to write about dance then opera. What was interesting is that when I wrote about dance, I didn't need to write about the history of the choreography, I didn't have to write about the history of the piece, I didn't have to write about the history of the interpretation, so writing about dance was not so much about interpretation of established capacities, but was very much about inventing ways of seeing. Writing about dance was more of an exploration, learning something about the world. What happened was that the abstractness of dance was excellent from the writer perspective. I took on a mission for myself, not to use metaphors that we know, but to use metaphors that expand: the audience, or the reader, had to become activated, not only consume imagery, but also activate himself in image production. So first of all it was articulation, enabling producing a language about dance. And then it was also about coming home after a performance that wasn't even bad, and knowing that there has to be a text in the morning, but not knowing how to do this. I couldn't give up, I couldn't say: "it's not my cup of tea" - that kind of review is too short and I had to put something out. To force articulation is interesting, I think, and I was forcefully articulating also what I am not interested in. I set up situations that force you to not maintain yourself as yourself, to not be able to produce belonging. That was quite extraordinary, and I had to do it 4-5 times a week. When I was writing I was quiet often accused by dancers and choreographers, coming to me and saying: "Marten, you really don't like dance!". However, I think being a critic is not about being a dance lover; it's much more about loving it so much that you can also say "no". a dance critic, like a teacher or a school director, is an ambassador for dance, and if that means being endless benevolent than that's a bad idea. The dance critic has also a responsibility to say: "you know what, you are a nice guy, but this piece is not very good. And I have to let you know about it". So the ambassador for dance is somebody who has a long term perspective. There was this great dance critic in Sweden, somewhere in the late eighties, who wrote extremely good reviews - both in the sense of good texts but also – and that was the problem – he only wrote good reviews. In 50 or so many
because then I am always begging for it… To be self announced "underdogs" is a very comfortable position. and I was very close to a professor of physiotherapy. it's all about Camouflage… I think that it's important in times of neo-liberalism. in order to produce confrontation. everybody else is going to be super happy.how can we give ourselves the confidence to not identify with our subordinate position? It's so easy to identify with the minoritarian practice of dance and choreography. the same critic every time – in the sense of format. so their personality as a critic doesn't stand between the reader and the work.on the contrary. So a lot of the work of the physiotherapist is to give the patient confidence to give up the identitary capacity. Being a critic is also to have a responsibility to the community to change it into whatever. The work of the critic. The statement that you made of the dance critic's responsibility takes us to the etymology of supervision or control that the word 'critic' has in Hebrew. the critic is sort of organizing cultivation. no . it’s a matter of becoming intimate with the practice. testing how we can feel about something. how we can understand something. I think critic is not about making law. to produce turmoil. with too littleness. and in whatever position you are in the practice of art making. For others. to work for its' changing. In the 90` I worked a lot in an institution for rehabilitation medicine. Critic is not about the execution of law but it's about the testing of laws.years someone will come and study the dance in the eighties in Sweden and think dance in Sweden must have been amazing. for some critics. and sort of filling these provisional spaces with articulation and terminologies. When it comes to dance. the job of the critic is to write the same review every time. How does the dance critic decide what's good or bad? Who sets up the criteria? A critic who knows what good judgment is should stop. but for what they want you to do. There is a moment when it's too nice to identify with scarcity.as long as we do this. it's about writing as subjective as possible. . Was this approach accepted by the editorial? When you get some money from the art council you don't get it for what you want to do. Fuck that. this is not about representing what was there in a kind of transparent or objective manner. cultivating. It's the same thing with our work . being in friction with practice as a way of organizing. One thing that is problematic with physiotherapy is that the patient identifies with his or her symptom: it feels good to identify with the pain. to produce difficulty. because it also makes it possible for me to say: "can you take the groceries for me?" or "I can't go hiking in the mountains because of my elbow". And still your job is to do what you want to do. It's a kind of gardening. and listening to where it is. So it's all about undercover business. is very much about staking out territories. especially after 1960`s . there are basically two modalities.
so when we come into the studio we are not using theory to judge or to justify. to have an opinion? I am more interested in writing with my pants down. but it sort of sticks on us. So often I have heard people say that my education is so biased. since they are all different he couldn't choose only one of them. I am not attracted to the idea of passing knowledge. when the student understands he puts it in a luggage compartment and forgets. I live in fear of neutrality. turn it around and say: in choreography. Now. so political. so and so because he is so fucking prominent. so that when the programmer comes he will need to take all the students. and the first section of the dance library shouldn't be dance composition (that we will read anyway) . I understand" .Complaint is also a way of saying: "it wasn't me. Moreover. Let's say when I go to driving school. Here. we should do this in the studio. again. if all the students come out with the same knowledge it will be a very boring thing. he could only choose by their looks or rich family or whatever. Think of this image of the students open the studio door. of this notion that as a critic you are not suppose to have an opinion – and isn't that the critic's job. but we have to do it ourselves. it's a matter of making each student explore or invent their own specificity or their own being-special. and then they go in and start to do phrase work… The question is how we can make theory be in everything. but we shouldn't do it in a lecture space. Then. The important thing is to infect the student with thought. and I am not going to cover it up.that's a bad moment. I want to pay as little as possible to get my license as fast as possible. sitting in an embracing dance circle. don't blame me. take off their bag of theory and leave it outside. because obviously also the dance will be the same. What the student needs to do is not to say: "ahh. but since they are all the same. we shouldn't approach the dance student or ourselves as if we should also be philosophers. if the programmer for the venue of contemporary dance comes to choose the best student. I am interested in passing this (specific) knowledge or more so. it's not fair for the students. it's my opinion. It is important to have theory classes and have somebody to talk with us about Walter Benjamin or whatever.what the library should have is all the other books. so I ask them to show me how to do it and imitate . It's the same thing when it comes to education. I can really see the connection between your approach as a dance critic and your educational manifesto. if everybody has the same driving license traffic security will be better. Education has to make it difficult for the one evaluating. but we should put a lot of books in our studios. I am interested in certain modes of us producing heterogeneous landscapes of knowledge. we were the underdogs. Another aspect of dance education is that as dance people we don't have enough discourse. When it comes to choreography or artistic education. . so we don't have a stake here". We shouldn't invite professor Mr. so it's clear that it is an opinion. We shouldn't have a library in our school.
co. I do the work because of myself. If I start to negotiate my audience.il/ . I am passionately involved in dance. not in my dance. dance as a modality of moving towards somebody. I see so many choreographers and artists who work for their own expression. I have my specific perspective in this production or in this particular dance. not for my sake.Where does your own work as an artist come in? The question that shows up is: "it's your work. but in Dance. which is a blurry object in itself. But even though I don't care about my audience. full stop. By expression I mean dance as an expression. because of what I am interested in. then it would become a service. but for whom is it? And in what ways is it for whom?" But of course I don't give a fuck about my audience. and it's important that the artistic production has some sort of autonomy. it doesn't mean that my work is necessarily personal from beginning to end. but is also always there for The Expression. © Ran Brown http://maakaf. My work is highly individual. but it's still there for the expression – I am working for Dance. or bringing something forth.