Dance Massive is on in Melbourne right now. I’ve been performing Inert with the wonderful Shannon Bott. In Melbourne the big dance company is Chunky Move and they make some pretty interesting (and quite diverse) work. Their work in Massive is called Mortal Engine and it has had a serious amount of publicity in town (I suspect they didn’t cycle over to their local Pilates studio to drop off some flyers). The main media quote Chunky has been using to promote the work is from the UK’s Metro review of Mortal Engine at Edinburgh Festival 2008:

The effect is terrifying, beautiful, unique and absolutely unforgettable

I have quite a strong memory of Mortal Engine getting luke-warm reviews in the UK in The Guardian, and in The Times. I just can’t figure out why Chunky didn’t run with “dazzling display of high-tech visual effects cannot disguise an emptiness inside”.

Now, this isn’t meant as a Chunky Bash (so easy to knock the people at the top of the pile in any town), and I am as guilty as they are in terms of ‘pulling quotes’ (although I don’t have a publicity department). It does, however, frighten me the degree to which consumer capitalism needs misrepresentation to feed itself. It is nourished by the generation of hype at any cost: in order to get your money our product needs to be thought to be better than yours.

I don’t want to play.


4 Replies to “marketing”

  1. I think both quotes are accurate descriptions of Mortal Engine; it had brief moments of terrifying beauty alongside the emptiness. You have found a weak point in the Dance Massive strategy though… when our audiences are so limited, why squash everything into such a short time-frame and make artists compete against each other? Perhaps fewer works presented in longer seasons with more publicity support would be a better option?

  2. Yes, very tricky. It did seem (though) that audience numbers for most of the Dance Massive events were quite strong. Or have you heard otherwise?I was definitely aware of the absurdity of (for example) little old "Inert" competing with "Mortal Engine", and yet I suspect the people who are interested in seeing it are, for the most part, different from those wanting the visual Chunky blast. The balance between giving a number of companies or choreographers an opportunity to present, versus longer seasons (and fewer works) is rather delicate. Dance Massive was designed (I think) to give international presenters an opportunity to see a lot of work, and therefore these works had to be compressed into a short time frame. Money money money.Lucky "Inert" sold out its 68 performances. I’ve only just completed counting the box office this morning ;-).

  3. eh… money you say.i was pleased to see the dance massive program include people like michaela pegum get a gurnsey. but i would be interested to see how the presenters were pushed towards shows. did they just get free range? or were certain shows suggested above others? was it possible for them to see every work that was presented? were they able to meet with each of the artists. a breakdown of the audience numbers would be fascinating. anyone?i was a little bit annoyed to hear last week that one of the groups were approached to participate after the closing of the deadline for applications. partly annoyed because jacob and i were not selected – despite having had the work we were hoping to show supported in development and showing by artshouse, dancehouse and ausdance victoria. and having already toured it to ny. (plus it was a bloody cheap one to put on). but also annoyed because that’s the kind of in-house networking that can stop artists like michaela from having the chance to show their work.oh course, it may not be true… but the source that told me seemed quite certain about it.

  4. As I understand it, the presenters were ‘scheduled’ to see as many as the performances as was possible. It was very well organised in this respect. Meeting with each of the artists was probably impossible, although there was a ‘lunch’ organised (that Shannon and I were too tired to attend – on our only day off).I don’t know about audience breakdown.Maybe the organisers just thought your work with Jacob was shite??

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