Archive for the 'Short Talks' Category

The Perfect Support Material

I’ve been on a couple of arts council juries in the last year or two, and I thought I’d offer some tips on how to make the best possible support video. (These are my thoughts only and don’t reflect any sort of official anything.)

Your video has to serve two purposes: establish your proficiency and illuminate your proposal.


This one’s easy. From whatever video you have available, take the sixty to ninety seconds that most makes it look like you know what you’re doing as a choreographer. Studio or stage, rehearsal or show, old footage or brand new, relevant to the project or not, none of that really matters. It doesn’t even matter if you feel like you know what you’re doing as a choreographer. Pick the part of your show that made the audience make noise — gasps, chuckles, murmurs of appreciation, howls of outrage. Pick the part of your piece that your dancers curse you for, but secretly love. Show that to the jury first. Stake a claim to being good at the thing you’re asking for money to do.


Dance is a tough thing to write about when you’re writing about an actual performance. It’s even harder when you’re writing about a work that doesn’t exist yet, or trying to articulate a creation process. So write less, and make sure your video illustrates the stuff that’s hardest to write about, whether that’s style, methodology, or something else entirely. If you have a hard-to-explain creation process, show several 20 second clips of a past work at different stages of its development. If you’re looking for funding to run a workshop, show before-and-after footage from a previous workshop, to illustrate the difference you made for the participants. Make use of captions, text, or narration in your video to reinforce your points. As a final test, try cutting out the first 30 seconds of your video: if it still illustrates what you need it to, leave that 30 seconds out. You want to get to the meat as fast as possible.

Good luck!

On Profanity

Profanity only really exists in spoken language, but it’s rare to find someone who uses it well. Most people use it for emphasis. This is incorrect. Your words are their own emphasis. The proper use of profanity in spoken English is for rhythm. For a serious (if somewhat limited) practitioner, we need look no farther than the man himself:

“English, motherfucker, do you speak it?”

Perfect iambic pentameter. That’s how it’s done.