‘So what’s new?’, by Sanjoy Roy

Maybe it’s down to my age. These days, I don’t mind much if a dancework is deemed old-fashioned or outdated. How old is out of fashion? How long is out of date? And if it’s so old it’s historic, then hey – at least it’s not a passing fad. Conversely, I am less impressed by newness in itself. Maybe that’s because I myself am not very new any more. Maybe it’s because newness is something the consumer marketplace so obviously capitalises upon (novelty trumps quality, value or sustainability). But it’s also because newness – like outdatedness – doesn’t seem intrinsically interesting. I’m like: so?

Certamen Coreográfico, like several other festivals that I regularly attend, is a platform dedicated to new work. Everything is new. So isn’t that a problem for me?

In a way. It’s a problem for me when newness becomes the condition for value. So if someone – whether audience or judge – says “well that piece looks really old fashioned” I think: that may well be true, but the interesting questions are what does it do? How does it work? Where is its worth? On the other hand, when they say “hey, that piece looks really new!” I think: that may well be true, but the interesting questions are what does it do? How does it work? Where is its worth?

In other words, I think the value of new work lies with the work, not the newness. I raise the subject here because in my sessions facilitating the Certamen’s Palabras en Movimiento programme, two works in particular were criticised as old-fashioned by some participants: Ricardo Millor and Miguel Ángel Fernández’s Los que pierden las alas and Mário Bermúdez’s Codara. I hope that I steered the participants away from judging the works on that basis, and towards questions that I think are more substantial.

Am I being old-fashioned? Maybe. But that’s not the interesting question.

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