Letting go the desire to express
Choreographic primers used to be dull enough reads. Compulsory reading for unimaginatively titled courses, like Dance Composition, they rarely led aspiring choreographers to greatness (although their building-block approach helped many uninspired dancers to scrape through an obligatory course in choreography). There was also a closed-shop devotion to each author, so those who adored Doris Humphrey’s The Art of Making Dances would more than likely be advocates of Humphrey-Limon technique and wouldn’t dream of reading what Erick Hawkins might have to say about the act of choreography.
Jonathan Burrows, who will appear during this year’s Dublin Dance Festival, has written A Choreographer’s Handbook. It’s a much broader text, not just in the aesthetic vision it suggests, but in its range of content that includes observations on funding applications, nudity and set design.
“I decided to try and write A Choreographer’s Handbook to reflect the multiplicity of ways dance artists now work, because there wasn’t such a book written by an artist for younger people coming into the scene,” he says. “It was a risk because I don’t assume I know everything, but I used notes taken from a long series of workshops I’d led with other choreographers and dancers, and I used these to underpin and counteract my own ideas.”