Dance essays - The Language of Dance

I just thought I'd share with you a few words from a magazine I got by being a member of The Foundation for Community Dance. You may think it odd that I would ever join any organisation that had the word 'community' in its name, and indeed you would be right. I joined because I was told that I could get cheap public liability insurance that way. I could never read the magazine, though I made a few attempts. For a while I kept copies in the loo, but I found that I preferred staring at the walls to reading them. In fact, I have never once made it all the way through any article in the magazine, and soon you shall know why.

Rather than numb your senses with a whole article, I shall just give you the headline and its flanking paragraphs that are presumably intended to grab the reader's attention and get him to read the whole thing. The headline was in large type, and the paragraphs above and below are like extended headlines, and were written in fairly large type, so the format you see below is pretty close to the original.

Scilla Dyke MBE introduces two seminal perspectives – two living histories – inhabitants of dance – that serve to illustrate the extraordinary journey of our lineage from the Royal Ballet to current day art form. Both stories are testament to what Sue Hoyle describes as the 'adaptive capacity' that we in dance possess… our physical and intellectual agility, our ability to effect change, to envision and lead 'beyond' underpinned by resilience, reinvention and an absolute belief in the influence of dance.


Sue Hoyle, Deputy Director of The Clore Leadership Programme, Patron of The Foundation for Community Dance and Lead Advisor for Dance for Arts Council England offers a rare insight into the underlying principles that permeate dance and cultural leadership.

I assure you, I have not changed the names. I have neither the imagination nor the brazen cheek to invent 'Scilla Dyke'. I hope that there is somewhere in the world of dance art administration a 'Charybdis Gaye'.

So, would anyone reading this page like to try and tell me what the article was about? That the whole magazine is written in this language I think explains why I have never read it. The punctuation is baffling, as are terms such as inhabitants of dance. What the hell is one of those? A dancer? Presumably not, judging by the context, but who knows?

I grew up with English as my native language, and I'm quite happy with it, but the writer(s) of this magazine seem to be trying to use a different language entirely. Unimpressed with mere little words that carry mundane meaning, they instead aspire to a higher form of language that offers the writer an opportunity to fill pages with long words that either mean nothing at all, or else mean something tremendously specific but which only very clever people can understand.

Whenever I read this sort of vague pretentious language, I form the impression that it is used to hide the fact that the writer has nothing to say. It serves another function, of course: it may convince stupid people that the writer is terribly clever. That this seems to work is depressing. Sometimes it seems that there are more arts administration people writing about the importance of dance than there are dancers. It's dance for Pete's sake – you know: leaping about and stuff. It's a lark. Give it a go.

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