Artist Tim Etchells photographed by Hugo Gledinning

Tim Etchells photographed by Hugo Glendinning
© Hugo Glendinning

There’s a world of difference between Museum of Dance and a Dancing Museum. From the former we might expect a certain morbid fixing, some kind of preservatorial dissection or animated taxidermy in the direction of a canon. Keeping things alive, by killing them. From the latter, Dancing Museum, we could expect, or hope for, a kind of revolution.

Musée de la danse factors the already present bodies in the space of the museum – calling on them, calling to them. It calls to the relations and dynamics already in the space, amplifying them. It calls to the already present bodies of the visitors and the bodies of the performers, and it calls to the relations between them, performers and performers, performers and visitors, visitors and visitors. The project calls to and amplifies the already present relations between objects and persons, between persons and objects, spaces and persons, persons and spaces. It sees, calls to, and amplifies in different senses, the ways that the museum is already a space of movement and moves, a daily social choreography, an architecture of dance, a field of moves, pauses, interactions, a group exercise in moving and breathing.

Time Etchells Forever Sequence ice letters

Tim Etchells
Forever (Sequence) 2011
Digital C-type print mounted on aluminium
© Tim Etchells 

But it’s much more than this – not just some pure bodies-in-a-space, but rather, this Dancing Museum is one in which at least a little of the force of history, the canon, the artwork, the depth and breadth of what dance (and performance and art) have been, can become active, present and dynamic, entering the fluid and changing time that we inhabit, rippling out into action, discussion, argument, conversation, laughter in the room. In doing this it can make vivid the potential and vitality of the past as prompt, trigger and question to the present. It can throw open the possibility of another relation – something playful. Something disruptive. Something social. Something inventive. Something intimate. Something frank. Something stark. Something harsh. Something ephemeral. Entering Musée de la danse you can shift from sober, not sceptical but certainly reserved, passing in and through so many waves, encounters and conversations. Taking this route you can exit exhausted but buoyed up, aware of the dancing museum not only as an energetic disruption but also as a re-proposition about how the institution of the museum might be re-thought, remade through dance and (more than that even) a kind of proposal-in-action about how we might be in the world together differently, how we might rethink the way we think and act together, in relation to each other, objects, spaces and their potential. Not to museumify dance. But to dance the museum. Not to change dance. But to dance change. A small revolution