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Dance has a political message too

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I went for supper with Jon Snow last night (the news anchor rather than the Game Of Thrones character) after the C4 evening news. Alongside his serious political prowess, it turns out he’s quite an arty-farty fellow and a bit of a dance fan, frequenting ballets at Sadler’s Wells and suchlike.

Claiming isolation in Iran as his most interesting reporting experience and Nelson Mandela as his favourite interviewee, I felt I could hardly sit there wittering on about what’s coming up at the Royal Opera House and how interesting the Ballet Boyz are. But he is a generous and erudite man, encouraging of everything artistic as well as political and he’s right of course – everything has its place.

Yesterday evening I watched as Jon interviewed Javier Bardem about his campaign for human rights in western Sahara and Javier made a wonderful statement about being a “political actor”, saying: “Everything is political. If you put fuel in your car, it is a political statement.”

It’s true in all corners of the world – even dance can be political. One of the choreographers we discussed over crispy hens’ eggs, red mullet and green tea noodles was Hofesh Shechter, who has a new piece, Sun, coming soon to Sadler’s Wells. An Israeli dancer, formerly of Batsheva Dance Company, Hofesh made Political Mother and Uprising/In Your Rooms – pieces with images of the military, themes pertaining to boundaries of the state, the struggle from oppression and fragmented grief.

Dance (and the arts in general) in education also came up as creative subjects are at risk of marginalisation now that music, dance, art, drama and design don’t count towards EBacc (the new GCSE performance measure). We are stepping backwards and it is a real shame that politicians in this country won’t do more to fight for a balanced learning for future generations and a healthy creative economy.

What would we be without art? We would lose philosophical values, cultural identity, inspiration, analysis, free representation of ideas and ideals – it’s a different kind of danger than wading into war torn countries and getting the facts from the front line, but it’s a danger nonetheless.

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