Theory of Dance

[from 2011]

THEORY OF DANCE (in eleven theses)

Nina Power

So Mårten is all like ‘write something for my dance thing’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know anything about dance!’ and he says, ‘yeah I know, write some theory or something!’ and I’m like ‘No! I wanna write about dance! I’m sick of theory!’ So here is my THEORY OF DANCE in eleven theses:

1. Dancers intimidate normal, unhealthy people. Their superior physique and general good health, despite their often casual attitude to smoking and drinking, is infuriating. Non-dance people like to pretend that dance people cannot read books, despite evidence to the contrary, because we have nothing else with which to bolster our sluggish and inwardly weeping egos.

2. Embodiment is a curse and a nightmare, lightened only moments of abandonment, excess and the odd gratuitous sexual event. Dancers move as if this generally recognised truth was somehow unknown to them. I secretly hope all dancers are punished for their lilting, engaging and carefree bodily relation to the world by suffering consistently terrible sex, though I suspect that this is, in reality, unlikely.

3. Philosophers write terribly about dance. Nietzsche tried to make his whole thought emulate dance but was prevented from actually dancing because of his hatred of socialists. Kierkegaard thought that leaping about was pretty cool, but spent his life indoors wondering whether he had flushed the toilet or not. Deleuze was probably an ok dancer, but not as good as Guattari, so never tried for fear of being outshone. Kant was an exception to the rule, but the only person who ever saw him move was Lampe, his thieving butler, and this was only for a few minutes every night before he tied Kant up in bed to stop him masturbating.

4. Nevertheless, Philosophers secretly believe that they are better dancers than everyone else. This is why they will gyrate horrifically on the final evening of any conference or other theory event, imagining themselves somehow able to understand the secrets of the universe via their arse.

5. Good dancers will understand the truths presented in points 1-4 and will move in a way that neither intimidates Philosophers, nor draws attention to their body, nor invokes how many books they have concretely read. They will be simultaneously as abstract and as grubby as money. This is why Philosophers will always approve of dances that look like concepts, and vice versa.

6. Nobody apart from contemporary dancers and performance artists understands the difference between contemporary dance and performance art.

7. Furthermore, nobody understands what “contemporary” means. If you try to dance in a “contemporary” way, your head will explode, and a dozen art galleries will open in impoverished former industrial towns.

8. Proper leftists want to harm anyone who ever quotes Emma Goldman’s petulant, deviationist line “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution”. We prefer the line “If you dance, you cannot be in our revolution. Furthermore, you will be shot.”

9. Naked dancing has been destroyed by the 70s, and our parents.

10. Animals hate all humans, but at no point do they loathe them more than when they dance. This goes double for animals that are actually quite good at dancing, such as bees and bears, who make an effort to sting and eat dancing humans whenever they can, even if they perish in the process.

11. Interpretive dance has only philosophised the world – the point is to destroy it once and for all.