February 19th, 2013


In which I wank at length about aesthetics

Last night I went to see Ella and Will, which is on as part of the Fringe Festival. It's an adaptation of Alistair Crowley's novel Moonchild, in which a young magically-talented woman attempts to manifest her ideal lover, while her real-life lover attempts to impregnate her with the spirit of the moon. It billed itself as a dance theatre performance, and is choreographed (and everything elsed) by a woman I'd never heard of, who apparently won So You Think You Can Dance a few years ago, and now we aren't being allowed to forget it, or something.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, mostly. I thought it was about half an hour too long and would have benefited from a bit more linear narrative in general, but I quite like confusing presentation, especially when applied to magical fantasy like this. After a while I picked up on what was dreamworld, what was reality and what was ritual space, and there were lots of little moments where I thought "Hey, that's a cool way of portraying that." There were also moments when I thought "OK I get it, get on with it" and there were some .. questionable insertions of random dance that lent nothing to the story and seemed a bit pointless and vague. Overall, I liked it more than I didn't like it. I was surprised to read this scathing review, although one of my companions last night used similar language to describe their lack of enjoyment as well. I disagree, but there you go. My performance background is in theatre and I know nothing about contemporary dance.

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Well, that was long-winded and a bit wanky. I find this happens fairly often, that I like something that others don't, and then because I'm a self-doubter with large gaps in my education I spend ages questioning myself, is there something wrong with me for liking this, am I missing something that's blatantly obvious to everyone else, and am I therefore stupid? But instead of falling down that hole every time, maybe it's more useful to have a look at it from a different angle, one that acknowledges that aesthetics and taste are subjective. Sadly I take a while to go through this mental process so when people are having after-show discussions, I'm all "I can't articulate what I think so I'll just shut up" and end up reading Wikipedia for hours and writing long boring blog posts about it the next day instead.

But it's progress, right? At least I'm not just agreeing with everyone else for fear of looking stupid.. and now I'm kind of over philosophy for the day. Kittens! (I'm the one on the end)

* Oddly enough, she doesn't appear on the Wiki page, but Kant does, and I think he was on about more or less the same thing.