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The Criminality of Dancers

Last week my friend’s outdoor shed got broken into at 430 am. There was nothing of value in it, some sticks for kindling for her fireplace, an old disused manual lawnmower. The night visitor must have been very disappointed indeed. I thought to myself, what if something else, something totally unexpected would have been there… waiting.

Like Martin Luther King sitting on a stool, or Mother Teresa, or…. his Mother?

But it was empty, which is perhaps a more telling metaphor. And yet it begs the question- at what stage does the activity of going into someone’s back garden uninvited in the night with a hatchet and crowbar become acceptable?

We might suppose the individual is poor and desperate – and this is probably true. They thought there must be something of ‘value’ in the locked cupboard that they could sell. Most probably this violation is just another step down the path he started on long before…

I’ve never heard of a dancer committing a crime – of any nature. I can imagine if you were to troll through crime statistics you’d be very unlikely to find any dancers at all.

And yet we are one of the poorest paid of the professions (probably not far off from poets). In the arts world we have the least amount of financial subsidy and yet, ironically, require a tremendous amount of resource. Somehow we manage.

But we don’t commit crimes. As a matter of fact we often seek to prevent them via work done in communities.

Chris McNulty was interviewing me for a follow up piece to ‘Pictures from the Broomielaw’ the other day. He asked if I had one story, one experience from my nearly 500 days of dance that stood out from all the others. And as my head raced through the 100s of encounters and days, weather patterns, and dances I could not choose one. I said, ‘No, not one, they’re like my family. I can’t possibly pick one, they’re all important to me’.

Perhaps therein lies a truth. I haven’t considered crime as a way ‘out of my situation’ because I’m so invested within a community of individuals and consequently are they, in me. This translates into a deeper commitment to my vocation of being an artist. I will do and sacrifice everything for a greater good, but funny enough I am consistently supported when I make that choice. And I don’t want… for anything. And I am happy… for the most part.

For I have meaning in my life, and I can only assume for that boy, it was not the same.

And hence, the shed was empty.

Mayhaps it’s time for us all to fill our sheds with things of genuine value.

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