heartstrings. Each ofJones‘s ‘cast members‘ is a professional dancer whose health. well-being (and even dancing) Croce is free to admire. And Jones has placed these dancers so they stand tall and proud threading the throwaway gestures of the non-dancers on screen through the dynamic pulse and thrust of ‘Bill T Jones‘ style. to create one vibrant. life-affirming portrait of the human will to survive. Hardly victim-art.

‘The only people who could in any way be described as victims are those who flash in and out of view on video. Those whom Croce describes as ‘the prime exhibits of a director/choreographer who has crossed the line between theatre and reality who thinks that victimhood in and of itself is sufficient to the creation of art and spectacle.’

‘Croce’s declaration that real life has no place in theatre is in itself arguable but in this case she has quite simply got her facts wrong once again. True. the people who appear on the screens all have terminal illnesses (is that so terrible anyway?). True. they all talk candidly and openly about their mortality. But as Gretchen Bender. the media artist who produced the images points out. all of them are willing volunteers. and their words have been filmed. edited and meshed in with Jones’s choreography. The Still/Here videos are not simply gritty cuts of reality plonked on stage. They are tightly structured. highly inventive pieces of art.

‘I asked the camera people to try to capture portraits. as people were listening. or doing things. or thinking. I actually took most of my portraits from the more candid moments. and l slowed them down because these moments only lasted three seconds. And I made an effort and it was a very deliberate political choice because I was anticipating this victim thing that I wanted these to be portraits so that any friends or relatives that would see this person would feel that it was a respectful. good representation. They were poetically rendered as beautiful . . . and in actual fact, none ofthem really look ‘sick‘.’

‘Bender describes herself as being ‘amazed’ by Croee’s refusal to see Still/Here. ‘lf she’d actually seen the show.’ she says. ‘She would never have written what she did. She thought she was doing something bold and avant-garde by doing a ‘non-review’, but it didn‘t turn out that way. She denied herself any possible revelation. And also any legitimate criticism she could have levelled will never be known. so basically the exchange between artist and critic is dead.’

Still/Here by Bill T Jones and the Arnie Dance Company is at the Edinburgh Playhouse for the Edinburgh International Festival, Fri 25-Sun 27 August.



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