FRONT PAGE / POSTS
Utopia in Movement? Or Dystopia?
by Louise Jolly| Brighton, UK
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
tags: art & design, consumer culture, culture, europe, making sense
In 2010, dance achieved unprecedented status as a cultural signifier in the UK. TV ballroom dance show Strictly Come Dancing continued to transfix viewers, StreetDance 3D came out in cinemas, while US musical-based show Glee also won millions of fans.
This new status was fully consecrated when dance was chosen as the theme of retailer Marks and Spencer’s Christmas ad — the launch of which is a major cultural landmark in the British festive calendar.
This is no longer a self-conscious postmodern idea of subjectivity as performance. Instead, it’s a utopian fantasy of unity, dance providing images of togetherness that bypass the constantly misfiring agon of language.
London choreographer Yael Loewenstein says that “mass dance scenes in advertising often offer up the dream that we're on the brink of a massive paradigm shift — something positive, something powerful, something we do together, with this phase being our warm-up!”
Nonetheless, the M&S ad offers a vision of togetherness that’s as tightly choreographed as a drill, ending with the menacing line ‘Don’t put a foot wrong this Christmas’.
Suddenly the performance looks more like a military parade, showing that glitzy dance forms may be more than escapist fun for countries at war. Is it possible that the precision of the military drill is encoded into the very homogeneity of the chorus line?