CriticalDance Forum

Discussion about "Dancers against war"
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Feb 11, 2003 2:57 am ]
Post subject:  Discussion about "Dancers against war"

I-H posted these comments in the "Dancers against war" topic and the Moderators have decided to move it here as this is where we discuss Board policy matters. I have reopened the "Dancers against War" topic, but please discuss here the Board issues raised, rather than there.

I- H wrote:

Put simply, CriticalDance is not the place to debate the pros and cons of political or military action, despite the acknowledged importance of this issue for all of us. The Moderators have decided to edit this topic to bring it in back in line with this policy statement and we will take action quickly if we believe that the discussions move again into areas that are not appropriate for CriticalDance.
But if the dance event itself was a comment on the deployment of troops in Iraq then surely it is the proper place to discuss such issues. Art is political Librarian whether you wish to accept that or not. And criticism is by its very nature an attempt to dissect the value and effectiveness of the art in question how well it has achieved it's goals.

Perhaps the reason for the low-profile of performance arts within the world arena or rather the reason for its lack of credibility are views such as yours which seek to disenfranchise arts from their social context.


Sorry I-H, but that's not the way we see it. CriticalDance is a dance website and we discuss dance and matters relating to dance. Political matters can arise directly from the themes that dance works address, from aspects such as gender issues that are implied in the works and from matters such as arts funding. However, we took a decision some time ago that CriticalDance was not the place to discuss the underlying political issues, separately from the dance context.

Thus, at the time of the last US election, we discussed the arts funding policies of the two parties, but we did not discuss other policy issues or the contested result. Similarly, we discuss the works of Christopher Bruce based on oppression in South America, but we do not discuss the situation in those countries in detail.

There are various reasons for this policy:

- Dance is the common interest that has brought us together. Early on we discussed having a non-dance topic and decided against it as our resources are limited and we have chosen to focus on the under-resourced world of dance. In short, we do not have the manpower to monitor discussions of opera, politics or other worthwhile themes.

- The major papers and a multiplicity of other sites have forums to discuss political themes. We would not be adding value by duplicating these other arenas.

- There are sharp differences of views between us here on a range of political matters, but we choose to "leave these at the door" so that we can work together on behalf of dance. Pragmatically, discussions on these issues could run out of control very quickly and our courtesy rule come under great pressure that we do not have the resource to meet.

Turning to the "Dancers against war" topic, the Moderators see no problem with reporting on the event and discussing the merits or otherwise of the performances and, if people wish, whether the dance work was effective in changing hearts and minds. However, the pros and cons of a possible war against Iraq are a different matter and we will keep discussions within the guidelines described above. In line with this we made changes and deletions to effect this policy. Librarian carried out the exercise agreed by the Moderators.

There will be grey areas where we have to make a judgement, but as with other Board matters, those will be decisions for the Moderators.

On the separate question of whether the arts should address social themes, another topic has been started, "Dance, - Art or Propaganda ?" and I look forward to a range of views on this topic.

<small>[ 11 February 2003, 04:04 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sat Apr 05, 2003 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion about "Dancers against war"

Thank you, Stuart, for clarifying the finer points of the effort to steer CD away from political controversy with the goal of keeping us rolling along with what we're agreed we're here to do. The problems that come up will likely not take the form of pro- or anti-war comments that are disconnected from reviews or opinions about dance. We don't seem to run into too much of that. My guess is that the sticky wickets will more likely show up as assumptions underlying opinions about dance. Under these guidelines, pro-military, close-ranks-while-"our"- nation-is-under-attack values are validated and unquestioned as underlying assumptions, but values and assumptions that go along the lines of the-war-is-going-to-wreck-lives ("ours" and others)and-companies ("ours" and others)--art ("ours" and others)-as-we-know-them, run the risk of being subject to special scrutiny. That's how I see it possibly shaking out after this airing of views and codification of what's never before required codification.

I fervently hope to be proven wrong.

<small>[ 05 April 2003, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Apr 05, 2003 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion about "Dancers against war"

Toba, if anything, I think the reverse has been more true. The rude posts that had to be deleted attacked this forum and the dance community for being anti-war.

This is exactly why the timeout period was enforced: some people come into it with minds already set no matter which way it turns out, determined to judge others unfairly. While other posters prejudged the forum as anti-war, you seem to have suspiciously prejudged this forum as pro-closed ranks. This proves that in this case the agenda and biases are so strong that perspectives are colored leading to unfair presumptions.

How can it be possible for this forum to retain its function when we have people coming in with guns blazing unfairly and without basis prejudging this forum to be unpatriotic on the one side and blindly pro-war on the other?

Therefore, to help us all, we need to stay away from wider issues and give each other the benefit of the doubt and respect the views of others.

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sat Apr 05, 2003 3:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion about "Dancers against war"

I admit that I am at a disadvantage for not having had access to the posts that were edited--not knowing their contents, biases, nor the nature of the comportment online of those who posted them. My main point is that I think there was a tendency to take a hammer to a flea at the first sign of friction. Or, if you'll allow a change of metaphor, I experienced the mods as being a bit um, trigger happy. Now that I look at what folks are posting, I think that the space has opened up a bit, perhaps in part as a consequence of this exchange and everyone reevaluating their stance(s) and am more than satisfied that we are coming down on the side of free speech and having confidence in one another's online integrity.

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Apr 05, 2003 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion about "Dancers against war"

Now that I look at what folks are posting, I think that the space has opened up a bit, perhaps in part as a consequence of this exchange and everyone reevaluating their stance(s) and am more than satisfied that we are coming down on the side of free speech and having confidence in one another's online integrity.
Perhaps. However, the original title was "Dancers Against War." The openness to discussion was always there -- it was temporarily derailed by sniping lurkers which in turn sparked counterattacks, both of which had to be edited and/or deleted. Hopefully, we're back on course now.

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