Sunday, December 16, 2012

On The British Approach To Excellence

My wee boy's very dance oriented, and addicted to 'Strictly Come Dancing', which of course means I get to be addicted to it as well (and my money's on Kimberley Walsh and Pasha Kovalev to win it: she is a very talented dancer, and his choreography for their Charleston last night was perfect, so cleverly co-ordinated to the music that it looked beautifully simple, meaning that what it really was was beautifully comprehensible).

Darcey Bussell is one of the judges this year. Ms. Bussell is a former principal dancer of the Royal Ballet, and you would therefore think that she knows as much about dancing as just about anyone else alive. Taking that line of thinking one step further, you might also think that people watching a dance contest would want to hear what she has to say about the quality of the dances being performed. 

However, some elements in the studio audience have booed her for making what they presumably perceive to have been negative or derogatory comments about contestants' performances, when her observations have been positive advice given positively regarding possible improvements in technique. 

As well as being crassly ill-mannered and boorish, this jeering of such a distinguished dancer for daring to dispense advice on dancing is really very depressing, if only because it makes me envisage stern paternal lectures having to be delivered in the years ahead on the necessity of listening to experts. Dancing is not an imprecise science: it has defined rules which have to be followed in order for it to be done well. The whole rationale of 'Strictly Come Dancing' is that celebrities engage in a dancing competition. In order for them to be able to dance as well as they can, they require to be given advice, and nobody is more qualified to give it than Ms. Bussell. Why then should she be booed for doing so? What insolent presumption do those jeering her feel they are indulging, when in expelling wind from their lungs in that manner they are denigrating the years of training and discipline which Ms. Bussell has dedicated not merely to the art but also to the craft of dancing? 

It doesn't speak well of the British approach to excellence, that's for sure. We can all have favourite contestants, for sure, but they might not be the best dancers. The name of the game is for the best dancer to win. The whole show is an exercise in fostering excellence. Who, then, can attend an event designed to foster excellence, presumably in the hope of seeing excellent performances, and then deride a judge with a formidably excellent record when she tries to foster excellence? I can't understand the thought processes at work in some of these people. They should dance the show in front of cardboard cut-outs. Maybe an animatronic audience would be better. Somebody call Peter Jackson, he might have a few spare clockwork orcs just lying around. They'd be just as lively an audience, and probably better behaved.

There are times in life when everyone expects excellence, such as when we're going to the theatre, or about to go undergo brain surgery. There are some people, like Ms. Bussell, who live and breathe excellence as a way of life from the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they go to bed. Yet if we expect excellence at opposite poles in our lives, from matters so grave they are quite literally life and death down to the footling pursuit of our own entertainment, why don't we expect excellence in every aspect of our lives? Why don't we deliver excellence ourselves in everything we do? Is the vast area between these two aforementioned poles just one great grey glob of mediocrity?

The studio audience of 'Strictly Come Dancing' are only there to sit on their backsides and watch a dance contest. It's a pity that some of them can only manage to be mediocre even at that.



Blogger James Higham said...

The British approach is now to mediocrity and "pretend" excellence. I heard an example in industry on the weekend. Same thing, same attitude.

17 December, 2012 05:52  
Blogger Mark In Mayenne said...

Well put.

17 December, 2012 11:03  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks, gents.

17 December, 2012 22:32  

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